Virtual town square wants to make it easier for neighbors to connect online. Think 'Facebook meets Craigslist meets Evite meets Yelp meets Angie's List.'

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Nov 11, 2011 2:25PM

The growth in online communication has inspired many people to try to create a virtual "town square." Some of those are hyperlocal news websites where residents can share news and information.

Neighborhoods also have created email lists and websites.


The co-founder of has just launched a new site that aspires to be essentially a Facebook for neighborhoods. aims to be "Facebook meets Craigslist meets Evite meets Yelp meets Angie’s List — all within a free private social network that’s just for your neighborhood," as Fast Company describes it.


Homeowners who are supposed to repay the credit were told that they didn't have to, and homebuyers who don't have to repay the credit got bills. A previous audit also found problems.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Nov 10, 2011 8:04AM

© Dana Hoff/Getty ImagesThe homebuyer tax credit that spurred home sales from 2008 to 2010 was a bit confusing to taxpayers. First came a credit you had to pay back, and then came a credit you didn't. Then you could get a first-time homebuyer credit without being a first-time homebuyer.

Among those who apparently remain confused by the rules of the credit is the IRS.


An audit earlier this year revealed that $513 million in credits had gone to people who didn't qualify, including people in jail, children and people who didn't buy homes. Now comes a new audit by the Treasury inspector general for tax administration, which reveals that the IRS is having trouble telling the difference between credits that do and don't have to be paid back.


Some are skeptical that $1,000 to $2,500 will spur migration to a city plagued by poverty and crime. Some question whether even a free house would be enough.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Nov 10, 2011 8:01AM

Five companies in Camden, N.J., have joined forces with the city to offer their workers housing incentives to live within the city limits.


The incentives range from $1,000 to $2,500 and are designed to lure middle-class workers into neighborhoods near their employers, three hospitals and two educational institutions.

"Today we join prominent cities from across the nation — like Philadelphia, New York, Chicago and Baltimore — in launching an initiative designed to encourage people who work in Camden to buy homes here and raise their families here," Mayor Dana Redd said when the project was announced. "Affordable, attractive housing in safe neighborhoods is a critical component of what is needed to revitalize our city."


Architect is honored for his work to persuade his peers to design buildings that use less energy and are kinder to the environment.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Nov 9, 2011 12:33PM

Twenty-three years after he published the definitive book on passive solar design, architect Edward Mazria made a startling discovery: Buildings and construction generate almost 50% of the greenhouse gases in the United States.

Determined to change that, he gave up his architecture practice in Santa Fe, N.M., and started Architecture 2030, challenging his fellow architects to use their power to reduce the built environment's contribution to greenhouse-gas emissions dramatically.


For his work, Mazria, 70, was one of five Americans to receive the 2011 Purpose Prize, given to five Americans over 60 who are changing the world. The prize comes with a $100,000 award.


Third-quarter data from NAR shows sales up in all 50 states, but prices continued to fall in most areas. Distressed sales are still a big part of the market.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Nov 9, 2011 9:36AM

© Robert Llewellyn/CorbisIn another sign that a housing-market recovery is nowhere in sight, the National Association of Realtors reported today that prices dropped in the third quarter of 2011 in almost three-quarters of the 150 markets it tracks.

Overall, the national median price fell to $169,500, down 4.7% from the third quarter of 2010.


The number of sales was down 0.1% from the second quarter, but up 17% from the third quarter last year. The number of sales increased in all 50 states and the District of Columbia compared with 2010.


Building to suit young singles and empty nesters may miss a key segment of market. Single dads also are a growing market segment.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Nov 8, 2011 3:27PM

© Vstock LLC/Getty ImagesWhen developers think about designing properties for renters, they often think about young single people and empty nesters.

But neither of those groups is the fastest-growing among renters: Single moms were the fastest-growing group of renters between 2000 and 2010.


What they want in a home is likely to be quite different, starting with more bedrooms and play areas for children, not rooftop terraces for cocktail parties.


With multifamily housing the only segment showing any signs of growth, and more households becoming renters, it's important to take into account just who will be renting when apartment projects are planned. About 1.4 million new renter households were created last year, a 4% increase.


Real-estate agents throw lavish parties to lure buyers and brokers to high-end properties. How about Botox and foot massages? Car washes?

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Nov 8, 2011 11:20AM

The interior of the 1 Main Street property where the band and guests are touring the property, as seen on HGTV's Selling New York (© 2011, HGTV/Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved)If your real-estate agent has put on an open house at your place, she may have brought a plate of cookies and some bottled water. An open house for agents might have included lasagna from Costco.

You mean your agent didn't bring a mini-circus? Or offer free Botox?


The competition to sell luxury homes has raised the bar on open-house parties. The multimillion-dollar home set is not setting out hors d'oeuvres from Costco.

At a recent open-house gala for an $8 million property in Santa Monica, Calif., agents hired a minicircus, which included stilt walkers and a contortionist in a clear plastic bubble in the pool.

Tags: selling

The latest CoreLogic report shows values lower for the second straight month. Another report notes the pace of foreclosures is increasing. Consumers share analysts' pessimism.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Nov 7, 2011 1:53PM

© Exactostock/SuperStockThe latest CoreLogic home price index finds prices down 1.1% in September, the second straight month of decline.


CoreLogic expects further price drops, and so do consumers, according to a monthly survey from Fannie Mae.

Of the 100 top metro areas tracked by CoreLogic, 82 showed home price declines from September 2010. Nationwide, the year-over-year decline was 4.1%. Home values were down 31.2% from their peak in April 2006.


"Distressed sales remain a significant share of homes that do sell and are driving home prices overall,” said Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic.



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