Tighter lending standards have made it difficult for some homeowners to take advantage of low interest rates.
The push to create more environmentally friendly homes apparently hasn't made it to all facets of the housing market.
Sure, there are rebates for Energy Star appliances and other eco-friendly products, including the proposed Homestar program, which could give consumers up to $3,000 for making energy-efficient improvements to their home.
But meanwhile, seriously eco-conscious people such as Jon and Laura Hagar, who took recycling to a new level by building their 2,700-square-foot home with 17,000 tires and then some, can't refinance because their home simply isn't comparable to any other homes sold recently in Colorado. From The Wall Street Journal:
"We lovingly call it the trash house," Laura Hagar says. The Hagars covered up all that trash with concrete, clay and stucco and installed south-facing windows to capture light, heat and views of the snowy slopes.
Nurture your own dreams of living a double life by buying a piece of the TV show's history for $459,500.
And for those who remember the home, I'd like to say you'll be happy to hear that it's for sale for $459,500, but chances are you're a little more creeped out about the idea of living in Laura Palmer's house.
Unfortunately, the Dutch Colonial isn't in the town of Twin Peaks, since the town doesn't actually exist, although it's location of Monroe, Wash., isn't far from the nearby cities of Snoqualmie and North Bend, where the series was primarily filmed.
The Redfin listing even takes some pride in the home's fame:
This is truly a remarkable historical estate chosen to air as Laura Palmer's home on "Twin Peaks."
But not everybody remembers it is so lovingly.
The spring rush is upon us, just in time for buyers to lock in interest rates before they're expected to rise.
Go ahead and blame the late winter storms if you've let the April 30 deadline for the homebuyer tax credit sneak up on you.
Back in November when the tax credit was extended just before it was set to expire, buyers-to-be were probably eagerly awaiting the chance to shop for homes in sunny spring rather than in the chill of winter.
But Move.com warns that you had better be even further along in the process than that if you want to qualify for the credit, which requires buyers to be in contract for a home by the end of April, and for the deal to close by June 30.
A three-week-old company in Los Angeles hopes to inspire other real-estate companies to give back to the community.
Based in Los Angeles, three-week-old Philanthropy Realty does more than just help its clients buy and sell homes; its agents also donate at least 10% of their proceeds to the charity of the client's choice.
"If you can choose between two great agents, and one of them is giving back to the community, why not give back?" asks founder Miguel Gonzalez, who adds that the donations are listed in the client's name as well as Philanthropy Realtors. "We’re interested in making a difference, not just making a buck."
Long-term help has been extended to 170,000 struggling borrowers through the federal program.
A year into the Obama administration's Home Affordable Modification Program, loan servicers finally are putting a dent in the number of trial modifications.
The Treasury Department (pdf) reports that as of the end of February, the number of permanent modifications under way rose 45% from the end of January, to 168,703, with an additional 91,843 offered but still waiting on the borrower's acceptance.
Since the program started a year ago, 1.35 million trial modifications have been offered and 1.09 million have started, with an average loan savings of $500 a month.
But The Wall Street Journal points out that the Treasury might be a bit overly optimistic in saying that cumulative number represents "34-45% toward the goal of 3-4 million offers extended through 2012."
Housing starts fall in the storm-battered South and Northeast regions.
Only so much building can be done when Mother Nature is dumping snow across much the country, and it shows in February's housing construction numbers from the Commerce Department (pdf).
After January housing starts rose to their highest level since June, February's seasonally adjusted annual rate of 575,000 showed a 5.9% decline from January's upwardly revised rate of 611,000.
The snowstorm-bombarded South and Northeast saw the biggest declines in housing starts, with a 15.5% decrease in the South and a 9.6% decrease in the Northeast, compared with January. Meanwhile, housing starts rose 10.6% in the Midwest and 7.9% in the West.
Better-than-average employment rates in five cities, from Kennewick, Wash., to Anchorage, Alaska, are expected to keep home prices there on the rise.
Home prices across the nation are slowly gaining on their losses, as annual declines in some cities start treading ever closer and sometimes even into positive territory.
In December, cities such as Tampa, Fla.; Charlotte, N.C.; and Seattle set new records for their lowest home prices since the housing boom, according to Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller home price indexes. Meanwhile, San Francisco posted a 4.8% year-over-year gain in home prices.
But you don't have to move to the big city to see gains in home prices. SmartMoney writes of five small metropolitan areas -- none with a population bigger than 700,000 -- that also saw year-over-year price gains and are expected to remain on the mend.
The Pittsburgh woman is seeking damages of more than $50,000 despite Bank of America's apologies.
With 8 million U.S. households behind on their mortgage payments or in some stage of foreclosure, it shouldn't come as a shock that lenders keep getting caught preparing the wrong houses for foreclosure.
But it still does.
The Wall Street Journal writes of one such incident that happened to Angela Iannelli, who was only one payment behind on her mortgage in October when she came home to a padlocked door. In her absence, a contractor hired by her lender, Bank of America, had also shut off her utilities and taken her 11-year-old parrot, Luke, believing the home was vacant.
Earlier this week, Iannelli sued her bank, alleging the incident "caused so much 'emotional distress' that she needed a prescription medication for anxiety," The Journal writes.
About Teresa Mears
Teresa Mears is a veteran journalist who has been interested in houses since her father took her to tax auctions to carry the cash at age 10. A former editor of The Miami Herald's Home & Design section, she lives in South Florida where, in addition to writing about real estate, she publishes Miami on the Cheap to help her neighbors adjust to the loss of 60% of their property value.