Chairman Ben Bernanke says the government could do more to stop foreclosures and help homeowners. The Fed also finds Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac policies an obstacle.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Jan 6, 2012 11:59AM

Another voice has joined those of the real-estate agents and homebuilders in complaining that tight credit is hindering the housing market's recovery.


In a 26-page white paper on the housing crisis presented to Congress this week, the board of governors of the Federal Reserve listed tightened mortgage standards as one factor holding back the housing recovery.


"Obstacles limiting access to mortgage credit even among creditworthy borrowers contribute to weakness in housing demand, and barriers to refinancing blunt the transmission of monetary policy to the household sector," Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke wrote in a letter to the heads of the Senate and House Committees on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs.  "Further attention to easing some of these obstacles could contribute to the gradual recovery in housing markets and thus help speed the overall economic recovery."


Pilot short-sale program in Florida is aimed at underwater homeowners who could face foreclosure. Other lenders also are offering certain homeowners money to move.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Jan 5, 2012 12:42PM

Bank of America is trying a new approach with underwater homeowners in Florida: It is offering them money to dispose of their homes in a short sale.


It offered payments ranging from $5,000 to $20,000 to homeowners who agreed to sell, and got positive responses from about 15% of the 20,000 customers to whom it offered the deal.


The program was aimed at homeowners who cannot afford their mortgages, so not all qualified. The amount of the incentive program was based on the size of the mortgage, as well as other factors, according to an article in The Tampa (Fla.) Bay Times.


Elin Nordegren plans to build a new home on the Florida oceanfront site. Meanwhile, demolition plans in Malibu have drawn opposition from celebrity neighbors.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Jan 5, 2012 10:40AM

© 2012 Microsoft Corporation/2010 Pictometry International CorpThe rich are different.


What looks like a mansion to us is just too, too small, and rather than add a new wing, they often just tear down the whole thing and start over.


The latest celebrity to knock down a house is Elin Nordegren, the ex-wife of golfer Tiger Woods, who recently demolished her 17,000-square-foot oceanfront mansion near Palm Beach, Fla., so she can build a new home on the site. She paid $12.2 million for the eight-bedroom home in a gated community in February.

Tags: celebrity

New book titled 'Unreal Estate' looks at 16 lavish homes in four of the city's wealthiest enclaves and shares the history of the people who lived in them.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Jan 4, 2012 2:20PM

© Random House We all love to ogle the real estate of the rich and famous. When that real estate is in Southern California, it is often at its most ostentatious.


Author Michael Gross has taken real-estate porn one step further, mixing it with juicy stories of gangsters, industrialists, movie stars and others in his new book "Unreal Estate: Money, Ambition and the Lust for Land in Los Angeles."


The book looks at 16 homes and their owners and inhabitants in the wealthy enclaves of Beverly Hills, Holmby Hills, Beverly Park and Bel-Air, an area known as the "Platinum Triangle." The history of that prized real estate is also a piece of the history of the city.

Tags: celebrity

Idaho couple and their conservative allies argue that they should be able to challenge the agency's contention they need a permit to fill wetlands.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Jan 4, 2012 12:39PM

© Jessica Robinson/Northwest News NetworkNext week, the U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear a case that pits a homeowner who wants to build near a lake against the Environmental Protection Agency's efforts to enforce the Clean Water Act.


Mike and Chantell Sackett want to build a home on their lot of just more than half an acre in Priest Lake, Idaho. The EPA says that their building site contains wetlands and that they need a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers.


"There's no common sense, and the EPA, they've gone rogue," Chantell Sackett told The Associated Press. "They do whatever they want. They bend the rules and they make your life hell."


Salvaged roofs become siding and windows become awnings in the hands of 'green' architects, who have also used car parts on other projects.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Jan 3, 2012 1:58PM

Architects Cate Leger and Karl Wanaselja believe in green design and finding new uses for old materials.


So when they built their own house in Berkeley, Calif., they came up with an innovative reuse idea: The siding of the upper story of their home is made from 100 salvaged car roofs. The awnings are made of Dodge Caravan windows.


With values close to what they were in 1989, after calculating inflation, should a home ever again be seen as an investment?

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Jan 3, 2012 12:24PM

© Robert Llewellyn/CorbisNow that the holidays are over, it's time for us to dissipate the holiday glow generated by that little bit of positive housing market data at the end of 2011.

Sure, pending home sales are up, but consider this: Home prices are now at 2001 levels.


Taking into account inflation, prices not only are at 2001 levels but close to 1989 levels, says David Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at S&P Indices, analyzing the latest S&P/Case-Shiller data.


Sale contracts increased in November, and lenders are accepting more short sales. Meanwhile, prices slipped between September and October. Will this bode well for buyers in 2012?

By Tony at MSN Real Estate Dec 29, 2011 12:25PM

In the waning days of a roller-coaster year for real estate, we received some positive news about the housing market.

The National Association of Realtors announced today that its Pending Home Sales Index rose 7.3% in November from October and 5.9% from November 2010. The index, which tracks homes under contract but not sales themselves, has not been this high since April 2010.


Earlier this month, the NAR said existing-home sales in November increased 4% in October and 12.2% from November 2010. Of those, 29% were distressed sales, down from 33% in November 2010.


Despite that slip, homeowner-assistance group Hope Now says 26,000 more short sales occurred this year than in 2010, MSNBC reported. Could all of this mean that the housing freeze is thawing a bit?



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