The latest Case-Shiller report shows a slight increase in May home values, but that's to be expected in the spring. Adjusting for the season, values were stable.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Jul 26, 2011 9:38AM

Doctor holding stethoscope to model house (© Peter Dazeley/Getty Images)Here's the quick analysis of the latest housing-price numbers from Case-Shiller: We're still bumping along the bottom. But we appear to be bumping along a more or less straight line instead of bumping down.

If you look at the May S&P Case Shiller Home Price Indices, the 20-city index rose 1% and the 10-city index rose 1.1% over the previous month. If you take into account the fact that sales, and prices, usually rise in the spring and apply seasonal adjustments, the numbers were about the same as in April.


"This is a seasonal period of stronger demand for houses, so monthly price increases are to be expected and were seen in 16 of the 20 cities," David M. Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at S&P Indices, said in a news release. "The concern is that much of the monthly gains are only seasonal."


The cities that didn't see an uptick over April's numbers, not seasonally adjusted, were Detroit, Las Vegas and Tampa, Fla. Phoenix stayed the same.


If you look at the numbers on a seasonally adjusted basis, nine cities showed a slight increase in home prices over April: Boston, Chicago, Denver, Miami, Minneapolis, New York, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, D.C.

Year over year, a more meaningful statistic, prices were down in 19 of the 20 cities, all except Washington, D.C., where they were up 1.3%. The 20-city index was down 4.5%, and the 10-city index was down 3.6%.


You're not going to get 50% off the asking price on a home, and the good houses in the good neighborhoods go fast.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Jul 25, 2011 1:30PM

© PhotoAlto/Eric Audras/Getty ImagesIt’s easy to think that because we're in a buyers market, buyers can call all the shots: Wait weeks before deciding whether to make an offer on a particular house, find grateful acceptance of lowball offers or scoop up homes for 50% of the asking price.

Good luck with that. Clinging to those and other popular myths may keep you from getting the house you want.


I'm always amused to see how unrealistic some of the would-be buyers are on the TV house-hunting shows. But when I was 25, I knew everything, too — even if I didn't realize my life would never be complete without granite countertops and stainless-steel appliances.


Syndicated columnist Lew Sichelman had a column in last weekend's Los Angeles Times about some of the real-estate myths that can keep buyers from getting the homes they want.


"… many people believe they can make any bid they want, no matter how ridiculous, because it's a buyers market. False," he wrote. "Even foreclosures and short sales are never priced at half their value 'or anything even close to that type of fire-sale discount,' says Christina Rordam of Exit Real Estate Results in Longwood, Fla."

No one can predict how a particular seller will respond to an offer, whether the seller is an individual or a bank. If the seller doesn't like you, you run the risk that he will refuse to deal with you.


AARP The Magazine has compiled a list of 10 livable and affordable retirement destinations. Some may surprise you.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Jul 25, 2011 10:54AM

© Denis Tangney Jr/Getty ImagesWhen I retire, I'd love to move to New York City for a few years. Not only is there a lot to do, but you also don't need a car. Unfortunately, I can't afford that. When you're looking for a place to retire, cost of living matters.

AARP The Magazine has come up with a new list of 10 affordable cities for retirement. The magazine considered not only cost of living, but also factors such as climate, recreation and culture.


You may be surprised at what they found. Not one city in Florida, Arizona or New Mexico, traditional retirement havens, made the list.

To compile the list, AARP looked at 350 cities, weighing property taxes, sales-tax rates, median housing price and taxes on pensions and Social Security. Then the analysts looked at lifestyle factors.


A new report predicts homeownership will fall to a record low because of foreclosures and tight credit.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Jul 22, 2011 12:21PM

© Hemera Technologies/JupiterimagesThe United States is on its way to becoming a society of renters, according to a new report from Morgan Stanley.


If all those homeowners who were delinquent on their mortgages were taken out of the statistics, the homeownership rate in the United States would be only 59.7%, the lowest since the U.S. Census Bureau  began keeping records in 1965, when the rate of homeownership was 62.9%.

Calculated the conventional way, the rate of homeownership has fallen from a peak of 69.2% in 2004 to 66.4% earlier this year. But if you take the 7.5 million homeowners who are delinquent on their mortgages out of the equation and assume they are renters, that rate falls to 59.7%, according to Morgan Stanley's analysts.


The combination of the foreclosure crisis and the difficulty of getting a mortgage are turning Americans who used to own homes, and some who want to own homes, into renters, said Morgan Stanley analyst Oliver Chang.


"Taken together they are forcibly moving the country away from being an ownership society," Chang told Bloomberg in an email. “This change is only beginning, and is moving the country toward becoming a rentership society."

Tags: rentals

The state is hoping to lure new residents to less-populated areas with student-loan aid and income-tax forgiveness.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Jul 21, 2011 3:36PM

© Bob Witkowski/Getty ImagesIf you ever get tired of traffic, crowds and the other stresses of urban life, you may dream of moving somewhere for a smaller, simpler, quieter life.


Kansas has a deal for you.

In an attempt to draw new residents to rural counties with shrinking populations, Kansas has put together an incentive package for people who agree to move to designated "rural opportunity zones" from another state.


The deals include a five-year vacation from state income taxes and a chance to get up to $15,000 in student loans paid off, if you stay five years. The average Kansas pays $1,800 a year in state income tax.


"This is a risk-free opportunity for us to draw attention to parts of our state that are losing population and offer another incentive to get people to move to Kansas," said Sherriene Jones-Sontag, spokeswoman for Gov. Sam Brownback, in the Kansas City Star.


But is it enough to draw any new residents?


You can build your own 'Home Alone' house or buy a replica of the house from 'Up,' which will not float away.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Jul 21, 2011 3:10PM

Photo courtesy of Bangerter HomesFrom time to time, we may see a house in the movies or on TV that speaks to us, a house or apartment in which we'd really like to live.


If that house is from the movies "Home Alone" or "Up," now is your chance.

The real house in Winnetka, Ill., where "Home Alone" was filmed is for sale, its price trimmed from $2.4 million to $2.175 million. But if you can't move to the Chicago area, you can still have that house, with a floor plan revamped for modern living. Brandon Smith of Southgate Residential drew up and is selling the plans for a 4,000-square-foot house he calls the McAllister, the name of the family in the movie.


If you want the house from "Up," you'll have to move to Herriman, Utah, where builder Bangerter Homes painstakingly created the house by watching the animated film. The four-bedroom house, which is listed for $399,000, will be part of the Salt Lake City Parade of Homes, which begins on July 29.


In Spain, protesters surround the homes of people facing foreclosure evictions, in hopes of buying them more time. Spaniards who lose their homes still have to pay the debt.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Jul 20, 2011 11:18AM

Caption: Demonstratorsshout slogans to stop the eviction of a family who can't pay their home mortgage payments in Madrid, on July 6, 2011.
Spaniards facing foreclosure have come up with a novel remedy: flash mobs.


Using cellphones, Twitter, Facebook and other social media, crowds gather around a property the bank is trying to repossess, keeping the eviction from going forward. According to media reports, the mobs have stopped 50 to 60 evictions since 2009.

"This was something very concrete that I could do," 28-year-old Eloi Morte, a flight attendant who has been active in the protests in Madrid, told The New York Times. "I wanted to see results, not just vague protests against the financial establishment, the banks. I wanted to do something constructive."


While the mobs are unlikely to be able to keep homeowners in their homes indefinitely, they do usually buy them an extra month, which is sometimes enough to negotiate a deal with the banks. In many foreclosure cases, banks agree to rent the homes they take back to the former owners.


The foreclosure crisis in Spain follows a housing boom and bust similar to that in the United States. Problems with the equivalent of subprime mortgages have been exacerbated by high unemployment, more than 20%.


Cancellation of contracts in June brings down numbers, as the bump along the bottom continues. At least we hope it's the bottom.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Jul 20, 2011 8:55AM

© moodboard/Corbis

Remember how we told you not to get too excited about Tuesday's increase in housing starts?


Today's numbers from the National Association of Realtors bring another blip down in this year's bumping along the bottom (we hope) housing statistics. Sales of existing homes declined 0.8% in June, to the lowest level in seven months. Sales were 8.8% below June 2010, when a tax credit was still in effect.

If the current pace of home sales continues for the rest of the year, 2011 may edge out 2010 for the fewest sales of existing homes in 14 years.


The decrease in home sales came as a surprise and was at least partly because would-be buyers who had contracts to buy houses changed their minds.

The NAR monthly report found that the percentage of first-time homebuyers declined, from 36% in May and 43% in June 2010, to 31% in June 2011. The percentage of repeat homebuyers rose to 50% from 45% in May, which the NAR classified as a "normal seasonal gain." The percentage of investors stayed the same as in May, 19%, up from 13% in June 2010.



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