Friday, December 11, 2009

Foreclosures Falling

Posted by Kenny Hernandez

NEW YORK ( -- Foreclosure filings fell by 8% in November, making it the fourth consecutive month of improvement in the housing market.

There were 306,627 filings last month, according to RealtyTrac, an online marketer of foreclosed properties. That decline follows a 3% drop in October, 4% in September and 1% in August.

"Loan modifications and other foreclosure prevention efforts, along with the recently extended and expanded homebuyer tax credit, are keeping a lid on the most visible symptoms of the nation's ailing housing market -- foreclosures and home value depreciation," RealtyTrac CEO James Saccacio said in a prepared statement.

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Mortgage Help for Some, Not All

Posted by Kenny Hernandez

NEW YORK ( -- Only about 4% of troubled borrowers have received long-term help under the Obama administration's foreclosure prevention program, Treasury officials said Thursday.

A nearly equal number of trial modifications have been denied permanent assistance, the report showed. The reasons include not making monthly payments on time, not submitting all the necessary paperwork and not qualifying for reasons such as insufficient income.

The report, the first comprehensive tally of permanent modifications made, shows that loan servicers have converted 31,382 people from trial adjustments to long-term assistance as of Nov. 30.

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What is Next For Commercial Real Estate?

By, Meredith Anderson

As the economy seems to be seeing a light at the end of this very dark and long tunnel commercial real estate continues to pull us further back. Commercial real estate companies are now seeming more and more ready for acquisition however with high rates of unemployment, hard lending processes, and uncertainty from investors, commercial real estate is far from out of the woods yet.

Although residential real estate seems to be easing back to a more positive situation, commercial real estate seems to have a gloomier future. With the recent issues with Dubai World, many are feeling that things are only going to get worse before they ever get better. The default rate in speculative debt is said to hit an all time 28 year high by the end of the year. Experts seem to be blaming this trend on the continues rise in unemployment which in essence is hurting the cash flow in the industry. It is said as long as this unemployment trend remains so will the commercial real estate concern. Credit is said to be the second leading cause for this unfortunate trend. Banks are becoming even more unwilling to give out trends protecting themselves for what might come in 2010. According to many, 2010 will be the rock bottom for commercial real estate.


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Bad Economy...Time to Invest or Save?

By: Robert Katz

It is a tough decision for most people to decide, now that the economy is said to be bouncing back, whether it is an opportunity to invest or a time to save. Most experts, Including CEO of Century 21, Say that it has never been a better time to Invest. With the cost of capital right now down to record lows in the 4-5% range, the price of real estate still at rock bottom, and the overall availability high due to the overall lack of buyers this theory may not be just a push to help his business. Now most would probably say that they just want to wait a little longer till the economy bounces back with unemployment rates still in the double digits. Yet, based on research done by Realty Times this opportunity that the market is providing may be disappearing faster than most realize. There has been an overall increase by around 4% in housing sales from over the past couple years, with even higher 20% increases in areas like the Northeastern region of the US. Additionally increases in newly constructed homes around the country has increased by over 6% from the last couple years showing that there are financially secure people right now capitalizing on the current buyers market. Now, determining if you should invest is really based on nothing related to the facts I've just given, but more on whether you are financially secure or not. If not then save your money for the essentials, but if you have a decent amount of surplus cash lying around, making little to no interest in that savings account, real estate investment may be something you should seriously consider.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Price cuts on real estate seem to be waning

Tribune staff reporter
By at least one measure, price cuts on Chicago homes appear to be waning, which means sellers are getting more realistic or they're willing to wait longer for their desired price.

While more than 27 percent of listings in Chicago on Dec. 1 contained at least one price reduction, the number of listings with price reductions still was 15 percent less than a month ago, according to realty Web site

In Chicago, 27 percent of single-family homes had been reduced in price, by an average of 10 percent from the original price. Among the 26 percent of condos with price cuts, the average reduction was 7 percent.

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Posted By: Amy Nightingale Group 3a
Tribune staff reporter

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Downsizing your house!

Posted by Ahmed Al-Salem
A recent Time article has an interesting point, "During the real estate boom, new home construction became a game of ever increasing square footage. That had a certain logic to it: If you saw your house as an investment to make you rich, bigger could only mean better, right? Now that the economy has unfurled and people are realizing that prices don't always go up, houses are getting smaller and more practical. Instead of feeding the desire for flash, architects and homebuilders are responding to how families actually spend time and use space, as well as to new buyers entering the market. "A house is back to being a house," says Stephen Moore, a senior partner of the architecture and planning firm BSB Design in Des Moines, Iowa." This is a good trend to see in society. Bigger is not always better. Why live in a house that is three or four times your capacity to use it and pay more if it won't help you financially or economically. You can still build an awesome house but make it small and fit your needs in the most cost effective way. The article continues: "What does the new American home look like? The shift is obvious as soon as you step through the front door. The grand entryway — the two-story foyer with a sweeping, often multipronged staircase — is quickly giving way to a more modest entrance. Stairs are less about architectural flourish and more about getting upstairs (if you can imagine). That means they're either moving back up against the wall or turning into more-compact switchbacks. The two-story foyer is becoming less and less popular too — in an era of tighter purse strings, who wants to heat and cool all that empty space? "Would you rather have the extra volume or a game room upstairs?" asks Ken Gancarczyk, a senior vice president at KB Home who runs the Los Angeles–based builder's architecture group. Buyers, KB is finding, want the room."

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New York City Real Estate

Post by David Held

The first thing that comes to mind when anyone mentions buying an apartment in New York City is EXPENSIVE! NYC real estate is arguably the most expensive real estate in the United States.

Why does it possess the most expensive real estate?

1. Location, Location, Location: Almost every major business/corporate has a headquarters in NYC, so the convenience of living next door to your office, not to mention the savings in transportation costs, is going to cost you a pretty penny.

2. Demand for Manhattan real estate has only risen in prior years, thus building owners inflate the price per unit and they get what they ask for.

3. Europe is easy to get to! This also has to with the location. Businessmen and women do not want to fly to California or even Chicago for a meeting, the City is much closer and more convenient.

4. The amount of “stuff” that goes on in the City. NYC has the hottest clubs, bars, shows, museums, restaurants, etc on the planet. “New York is the City that does not sleep.” Which all of this going on in the city and right at your finger tips it tends to increase demand for real estate.

5. It has everything you need (and all in walking or subway distance)!

Sources #1, #2, #3

Monday, December 7, 2009

Junk mortgages: It just gets worse


By Allan Sloan and Doris Burke

NEW YORK (Fortune) -- Back two years ago when the mortgage meltdown was heating up, we wrote an article called "Junk Mortgages Under the Microscope" dissecting a particularly wretched mortgage-backed securities issue peddled by Goldman Sachs.

We wanted to show how these complex securities really worked and how Moody's and S&P, the rating agencies, aided and abetted the process by giving two-thirds of an issue backed by ultra-risky second mortgages the same safety rating they gave to U.S. Treasury securities.

We thought this was a cautionary tale -- but it's turned into a horror story. All the tranches of this issue, GSAMP-2006 S3, that were originally rated below AAA have defaulted. Two of the three original AAA -rated tranches (French for "slices") are facing losses of about 90%, and even the "super senior," safer-than-mere-AAA slice is facing losses of 25%. How could this happen? And what lessons can we take away from it?

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Fed's opinion on Real Estate Market

BY: Nicole Nelson

The Fed (Federal Reserve) is the central banking system of the U.S. The do many things such as enacting different rates for banks depending on how the economy is at a certain point of time. The Fed reports on how the economy is. Recently the Fed believes that the economy itself seems to be rebounding from the crisis that occurred during the fall of last year. Although the economy does seem to be rebounding, the Fed believes that the housing/real estate market is still struggling. The Fed reported that home prices are still declining. Also they stated that the commercial real estate market is one reason why the present economy is not rebounding as quickly as it should be. Things such as falling rent prices, vacancy rates rising and very little construction on the way is dampening the real estate market. Also, losses on commercial real estate are increasing which shows that the market is “very weak and, in many cases deteriorating”. Although the commercial real estate market is clearly not improving significantly or at all, the residential market’s outlook has improved. Home sales have continued to rise, with a majority of these sales coming from the purchase of less expensive homes. Although the turn-around from the financial crisis has taken some time so far, the turn-around is taking place. The fed stated recently, “This slow-motion recovery is going to take an extraordinary amount of patience.”

No Escape From TARP for U.S. Banks Choking on Real Estate Loans

Posted By: Nicole Nelson

Written By:Elizabeth Hester and Linda Shen

Dec. 7 (Bloomberg) -- As the U.S. economy pulls out of a recession and the biggest banks return to profitability, mounting defaults on commercial property may keep regional lenders from repaying bailout funds until at least 2011.

Unpaid loans on malls, hotels, apartments and home developments stood at a 16-year high of 3.4 percent in the third quarter and may reach 5.3 percent in two years, according to Real Estate Econometrics LLC, a property research firm in New York. That’s a bigger threat to regional banks, which are almost four times more concentrated in commercial property loans than the nation’s biggest lenders, according to data compiled by Bloomberg on bailout recipients.
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Commerical Real Estate Far From Recovery

Posted By, Meredith Anderson
Dec. 7 (Bloomberg) -- As the U.S. economy pulls out of a recession and the biggest banks return to profitability, mounting defaults on commercial property may keep regional lenders from repaying bailout funds until at least 2011.

Unpaid loans on malls, hotels, apartments and home developments stood at a 16-year high of 3.4 percent in the third quarter and may reach 5.3 percent in two years, according to Real Estate Econometrics LLC, a property research firm in New York. That’s a bigger threat to regional banks, which are almost four times more concentrated in commercial property loans than the nation’s biggest lenders, according to data compiled by Bloomberg on bailout recipients.

The concentration makes regulators less likely to let regional lenders like Synovus Financial Corp. and Zions Bancorporation leave the Troubled Asset Relief Program, analysts said. Smaller banks would remain stuck in TARP, while bigger lenders, including Bank of America Corp., repay the government and free themselves to set their own policies on executive pay.

“Community and regional banks basically became real estate banks in the past 25 years, and now real estate is on its back,” said Jeff Davis, an analyst at FTN Equity Capital Markets Corp. in Nashville, Tennessee. “The largest banks have other areas where they can make money, be it consumer lending, capital markets and asset management.”

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Tips for Selling Your House

By: Laura Reginelli

As many have realized the recent housing and economic crisis have caused a dip in home sales over the past year or two. Selling a house can be considered an art and some individuals fail to realize how to effectively market your home and make the final sale. In today’s world selling a home can be harder than ever so it is important to follow some basic rules in order to secure the sale.

1. Invest in hiring a real estate agent. Some people fail to realize how difficult it really is to sell a house and underestimate the power of a professional.

2. Be positive and persistent. Everyone is having trouble selling homes for the prices that they want to these days. Keep at it and stay motivated. It won’t fail you.

3. Make improvements to both the inside and outside of the house. People will see your home as they drive by and the more aesthetically appealing that it looks the more they will be intrigued to look into buying it.

4. Many experts recommend depersonalizing your home. By making the house less personalized, buyers will be able to envision it the way they want it. A clean slate usually works best.

5. Have realistic expectations when it comes to selling your house. Talk to a real estate agent prior to pricing the house in order to have an expert opinion.


Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Best Time to Sell Your Home

Posted by: Janielle Viggiano

Some of the questions you need to start asking yourself when you’re thinking about selling your home is:

  1. How much equity is in my home? According to, “if you’ve made a sizeable down payment, have lived there several years, or neighborhood property values have skyrocketed, you may be able to get a comfortable profit from the sale of your home (2009).”
  2. Is your home in saleable condition? Will you have to market it as a fixer upper or “as-is?”
  3. Where will you move to? “If you plan to downsize or move into an apartment, chances are you need not worry about making a huge profit. But if you would like to buy another home, do you have enough money for the required down payment (essortment, 2009).”
  4. Is the selling market stable or strong? Pay attention to the economy and the news to see if right now is the best time to sell or if you should wait a few months.
  5. Are your circumstances stable? “If a family member is in precarious health, it may be wise to wait until the crisis passes before attempting to sell your home. Stress tests report that selling or buying a home can wreak havoc in a placid lifestyle (essortment, 2009).”

Traditionally spring is the best time to sell your house. Sales peak in April and May and continue to stay relatively strong in June and July. It’s a good time to move because the weather is nice and it’s during summer recess from school.


Friday, December 4, 2009

Looking to Purchase a Foreclosure?

By Matthew Maillet

In the recent months, the foreclosed housing market has become more and more attractive for those looking to purchase discount real estate. Currently there are over 1.5 million homes for sales, and this number is expected to grow for the next six months. Foreclosed houses provide bargains for those looking to purchase assets. However, these bargains have both advantages and disadvantages. If you are looking to purchase a foreclosed house in the near future, there are many strategies that will help you in making the right purchasing decisions.
Glenn Kelman, CEO of the online discount housing broker Redfin, explained the current housing market best: “Everybody and their grandmas are trying to buy foreclosures.” Because of this, it is important to act rationally and not just get caught up in the frenzy. Cheap list prices attract many bids from potential buyers; thus, make sure to stay clear of homes that are no longer selling for a great bargain.
Two strategies that place the buyer at a greater advantage are the following: always contact lenders directly and make sure to get pre-approved from the lender you want to buy from. The better relationship you have with an asset manager, the greater chance you have with receiving insider information on great bargains as soon as they hit the market. This can put you in a better position from other buyers on the market.

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Improving Real Estate Indicators

Article by Matthew Maillet

October real estate statistics have shown that many Americans are taking advantage of the first time home buyer credit. The National Association of Realtors reported on December 1st “an unprecedented ninth consecutive month of increases in the number of signed contracts.” While a signed contract does not promise a done deal home purchase (because it is not officially a closed sale,) this number is a clear indicator that many Americans are utilizing government incentives to purchase homes.

The Census Bureau has also reported some encouraging figures for the future of the real estate market. In the month of October, there was a dramatic 3.9% surge in private residential construction spending. Many analysts agree that these numbers may in fact weaken in future months; however, it is clear that the depressed prices of many homes as well as government incentives have encouraged many Americans to purchase their first home.

Many real estate analysts predict that the housing market could return to normal market conditions by mid-2010. While this hopeful estimate suggests that Americans are actively purchasing new homes, it also relies on several other indicators (unemployment percentage, etc.) Lawrence Yun, the head economist of the National Association of Realtors, explained that these indicators suggest a “broad wealth stabilization for the vast number of middle-class families.”

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Improvements for potential homeowners

Posted by Pete Hill

Throughout the course of this recession, and the recovery of the recession, the housing market as a whole has still struggled. Although it may take a long time for the entire nation to return to its previous level, there is hope for some areas to respond quickly.

There has been a noticeable improvement in the price level of houses over the past six months. Rising home prices are a key ingredient to rebuilding the economy. Homeowners feel wealthier when their property appreciates in value and are more likely to spend money. Rising prices also help millions of homeowners who owe more to the bank than their homes are worth.

On the other side of the argument, the population who is interested in buying a house is in luck. Interest rates are at record lows. Housing prices in many parts of the country are still depressed. And you may be eligible for a generous tax break. President Obama signed legislation that provides a $6,500 tax credit for some current homeowners who buy another home. The law also extends the $8,000 tax credit for first-time home buyers.
Sales of new homes rose last month to the highest level in more than a year as strong activity in the U.S. South offset weakness in the rest of the country

Potential of a revived housing market

Posted By: Pete Hill

With the economy pulling out of a recession, many people wonder if they can expect another crash, and if their housing market with be revived. Because the markets had made such a recovery this year, many experts wonder if it is too much too fast. With that being said, the economy is recovering but the housing market still faces challenges, and we are still losing jobs.

“Junk Mortgages” as they are called continue to get worse and still continue to ruin the housing market. Experts thought that when the recession hit, dissecting them and evaluating them would put an end to their harm, but they have not been resolved. These mortgages are a large reason as to why the housing market will not recover on the same level as the rest of the economy, and why so many foreclosures are happening.

The big question many people want to know the answer to is whether their town will be a boomtown again or not. A good climate and a robust economy tend to push housing prices up, but meanwhile an elastic housing supply keeps prices moderate. It is said that some of the “old, cold” cities and towns may never recover the way a warm climate city will recover.


Real Estate Market is Showing Positive Signs

By: Sara Sindelar

The housing market hit a big increase for the month of October. National Association of Realtor's index increases 32%. There is a large factor of the first time buyers tax credit that home buyers are taking advantage of. There has been a straight nine month increase in signed contracts. The first home buyers tax credit can equal up to $8,000. The tax credit is worth 10% of the value of the home up to $8,000. It is only for first time home buyers who have not had a residence in three years and this must be their primary residence after purchase. The ending date was November 6, 2009 causing the major increase in October home sales.

Not only is there an increase in buying but a major decline in houses on the market for sale. Lawrence Yun, a National Realtor Association chief economist believes that real estate conditions will be back to normal by mid 2010. (CNN) Many areas are seeing this increase in home sales it is not just a positive country average. Central Ohio saw a 26% gain in October and Chicago area sales were up 33.3%. Along with the unemployment rate declining and real estate home sales increasing there is a lot more hope that there is an end to this recession. There is still a lot of work to be done and debt to be paid back but these signs give a positive that next Christmas may not be so dark.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Holiday Season Is't So Joyful For Real Estate

By, Meredith Anderson

With the holidays right around the corner people seem to be surprisingly spending! According to the Federal Reserve on Wednesday the economy is starting to see a slight progress in general.With the holiday season here retailers are excited for the sales and seem to have quite positive expectations. However the commercial real estate market doesn't seem to be sharing the happy news.

Commercial real estate is still a barrier to our recovering economy. Although residential real estate has seen a small increase in sales due to lower prices, not many new homes are being built, bank are loaning less money, more layoffs are occurring, and essentially most people cannot afford new homes. However the real problem is with commercial real estate. There is very little new construction happening. Because of the increase in rent vacancy levels are rising. The Fed described the commercial real estate market as,"very weak and, in many cases, deteriorating." We can just hope that with the new year comes better news.


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Government Stepping in to Help Foreclosures

By: Sara Sindelar

There are a rising number of foreclosures during this economic crisis. With unemployment rates rising and borrowing money is becoming more difficult foreclosures are increasing. The government has been stepping in to help with this growing problem. The government wants to have the loan providers to help these homeowners long term. They are going to physically go to these providers and help move along this slow transition to get homeowners back on track quickly. Banks are now going to be required to send progress reports two times a day for the month of December. Those that do not cooperate with the guidelines placed will face penalties.

The government wants to help the providers have a good line of communication with their borrowers. The homeowners are being placed in trial runs to see if they will be able to meet the new payment plans. Bankers are complaining that the borrowers are not turning in their paperwork which is slowing down the banker’s side of the process.

The Treasury realizes that this problem is two sided since homeowners are not handing in their paper work as well. This is going to be a work in progress for homeowners to stay away from foreclosures.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Home sales contracts soar in October

POSTED BY: Sara Sindelar

By Les Christie, staff writer

NEW YORK ( -- Americans are inking a lot of deals to buy homes.

In October the National Association of Realtors recorded an unprecedented ninth consecutive month of increases in the number of signed contracts.

Although these are not closed sales, and some deals can fall through, signed contracts are a good indicator of where the housing market is headed.

Between September and October NAR's Pending Home Sales Index rose 3.7% to 114.1 from 110 in October. But the index is 31.8% higher than a year ago, when it was 86.6. That's the biggest year-over-year gain in the history of the index.

The PHSI is also at its highest level since March 2006, and the rise confounded expert expectations. A panel of industry analysts put together by had forecast a 1% drop in new contracts.

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Real Estate Market: Beginning to Increase

Posted by Lindsey Connell

The real estate market has changed dramatically over the last few years and its stunted growth has put many people out of work. The problem is that with the economy today, people are less willing to spend their money which means houses aren’t being sold. What is surprising however, is the quick change in the real estate market. Sales of single family homes, townhouses, condos and co-ops rose by just over 10% in October, and were 24% above where they were a year before. Closed transactions also rose over 12% and specialists believe this jump is due to first time buyers trying to make their purchase before expiration of the $8,000 federal tax credit. Another reason for this is because house prices are very low and are now more affordable to more people. A study even showed that houses are now more affordable than they have been at any point in the last five years. The percentage of people able to afford houses on the market even rose from 56.1% to 62%. The cost of houses on the market today are now 8.2% less than they were a year ago, which will hopefully stimulate the economy and get more customers to purchase homes. We do have to keep in mind however, that if home purchases increase, the costs of the houses are sure to increase as well.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Real Estate Salaries

It is very interesting to compare salaries among different jobs, how people get paid and how much they are getting paid. When thinking of a person who sells real estate, it may be shocking to know that the average real estate sales agent in 2006 made $35,715 base salary. With the way real estate agents get paid though, this is only their initial income as they also get paid on commission. The percentage the sales agent makes ranges on which company they are working for, whether they are private or public. It also depends on how many years the sales agent has been working. The longer someone has been in the business, the more they make.

Looking more broadly at real estate employee salaries, they can range greatly based on what you do specifically in the industry. Median salaries generally are at the following for these jobs. Residential Property Manager- $65,000; Residential Real Estate Agent- $54,000; Financial Analyst in a Real Estate Company- $60,000; Project Manager- $90,000; Mortgage Lender- $110,000. Clearly it makes a difference as to what role you play in real estate. Commission will also not affect all of these jobs as they are not all directly related to the sell. The actual agent will be the one getting that additional compensation.

By: Kelsey Hoffman


Real Estate Market Trends Don’t Matter Anymore

This has been “conference” month, and we have attended our share of the retrospectives/prospectives of the economy and the real estate market, both nationally and locally. Most prominent of those conclaves was the Urban Land Institute’s national conference in San Francisco, which was held in early November. It was followed by a local version, called the Trends event, focusing mostly on San Diego.

The idea that trends matter is wrong. These conclaves ought to be titled Apocalypse Now. The nature of the economic beast attacking us requires serious thinking about real change. Not enough of that is going around.

The general consensus from each of the events is that we are in the midst of a long, slow recovery period. So, the message is to attempt to Thrive in Turbulent Times, the subtitle of the local ULI Trends conference.

Not all agree that is possible. “Thriving might be too strong a term,” suggested development consultant David Malmuth. “Maybe the better approach is adapting or surviving.”

Malmuth is correct. There is no point in mincing words. The economy and the real estate market have been in descent for four years, and there is every sign this will last for a couple more. Job losses and unemployment remain high. Discretionary spending is weak.

Posted by: Kelsey Hoffman

Real Estate Buying Online

Posted By, Meredith Anderson

Visitors to Can Now View the Constant Flow of Deals, Property Searches and Listing Updates Occurring Throughout the U.S. Market
November 30, 2009: 04:23 PM ET

BETHESDA, Md., Nov. 30, 2009 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- CoStar Group, Inc. (Nasdaq:CSGP), the number one provider of information, marketing and analytic services to the commercial real estate industry, today announced that, for the first time ever, online viewers can watch the constant flow of activity occurring throughout the commercial real estate industry on CoStar's website at

The unique visual display captures the hundreds of thousands of listing updates, reported lease and sales transactions, and property searches taking place in CoStar's comprehensive database of commercial real estate information every day, showing where the activity is occurring as it happens.

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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Home Is Where the Family Is

By Lingxiao Li

Nowadays, even though mortgage rates have been dropped, many families are still struggle making their payments. Maybe it's the time to buy a smaller house since children all grew up and moved out. Stave (Steve Yoder is chief of The Wall Street Journal's San Francisco bureau) said "Home to this particular house, I mean, and this town. I ask because Karen and I are starting to talk of downsizing. That talk often leads us, naturally, to sub-Saharan Africa. And then I worry about Isaac's rootedness, now that he's off at college." The house is too big. We bought it for two adults, three boys, a pooch and a lizard. We're down to the adults, one boy and an aging dog. We seldom use 1,000 of our 2,500 square feet, but we still pay the mortgage and taxes and upkeep on those unused squares. This is the family's choice whether they should move out or not.The Bay Area is expensive, mainly because of the reasons they love it-it's a cultural center with natural beauty. And it's even more expensive if you're living in a house that's too big for you. "So, while I'll always have a place in my heart for the Bay Area, I wouldn't object to a move. You have to let go of childhood sometime." As Thomas Wolfe wrote, "the womb from which mankind emerged into the light, forever pulls one back – but … you can't go home again."

U.S. Will Push Mortgage Firms to Reduce More Loan Payments

By Lingxiao Li

The Obama administration on Monday plans to announce a campaign to pressure mortgage companies to reduce payments for many more troubled homeowners, as evidence mounts that a $75 billion taxpayer-financed effort aimed at stemming foreclosures is foundering. Even as lenders have in recent months accelerated the pace at which they are reducing mortgage payments for borrowers, a vast majority of loans modified through the program remain in a trial stage lasting up to five months, and only a tiny fraction have been made permanent. Some economists argued that the plan was built for last year’s problem — exotic mortgages whose payments increased — and not for the current menace of soaring joblessness. Lawyers who defend homeowners against foreclosure maintained that mortgage companies collect lucrative fees from long-term delinquency, undercutting their incentive to lower payments to affordable levels. Mr. Barr, who supervises the program, portrayed such deliberations as part of a constant process of assessment within the Treasury. He expressed confidence that the mortgage program had sufficient tools to deliver relief, characterizing the slow pace as reflecting a lack of follow-through, and not structural defects requiring a revamping.

Paying Attention To Dubai Market

By, Meredith Anderson

With the US market already unstable, the recent news of Dubai's state-owned investment arm-Dubai World and its reconstruction of debt has come to every ones attention. It shocked many how a city so far away could have such as substantial impact on the United States real estate. Dubai faces $59 billion dollars that it has no way of paying back.

Since the news was realized on Friday The Dow Jones U.S. Real Estate Index decreased by 2.9%. That is nearly twice the decline of broader U.S. market indexes. "Dubai may have to unload some very prestigious properties at distressed prices and this will drive the price of all commercial real estate lower," wrote Richard Bove, a banking analyst at Rochdale Securities in Lutz, Florida. Dubai World is an investment company that manages projects and business for the Dubai government. Dubai World is involved with many large real estate projects in the United States including CityCenter in Las Vegas and other Miami and New York resorts and hotels. "This downturn has had more of a global impact," said Tony Ciochetti, chairman of Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Center for Real Estate in Cambridge, Massachusetts."As I try to explain to my students, with a global economy, we're all attached at the hip financially in some way, shape or form," he added.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Real estate: October home sales up in Hampton Roads

Sales of Peninsula-area existing homes were up 24.2 percent in October, compared to October 2008.

At first blush, it sounds like a drastic improvement. But, real estate agent Bob Sullivan cautioned, October 2008 was a terrible month.

"October of last year is when it really started to go into the toilet," said Sullivan, president of the Virginia Peninsula Association of Realtors.

Nationally, existing-home sales were up 10.1 percent from September, and year-over-year sales were up 20.8 percent, according to the National Association of Realtors.

A rush to cash in on the up to $8,000 first-time home buyer tax credit before it expired Nov. 30 bolstered sales. Since then, legislators have extended and expanded it.

Now, a credit of up to $6,500 is available to qualifying existing homeowners. Both first-time and existing buyers have until April 30 to find a home.

That will keep the housing recovery momentum going, Sullivan said.

Extending the credit to existing homeowners will give them the incentive they need to find another home, Sullivan said.

"They might be able to recoup some of the money they would've lost because of the pricing coming down," he said.

October was the third consecutive month to show year-over-year gains in the number of sales on the Peninsula and Middle Peninsula, and November sales hold promise. Year-over-year pending sales are up 43.6 percent, according to a Real Estate Information Network report.

Click here to read more.
Posted by: Kelsey Hoffman

Dubai Effects US Real Estate

Posted By, Meredith Anderson

By Elinor Comlay and Jonathan Stempel - Analysis
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Dubai's debt woes could further unhinge an already fragile U.S. commercial real estate, as it illustrates the importance of that tiny country to global investors in an increasingly interconnected world.

A state-owned investment conglomerate Dubai World, with $59 billion of liabilities, set off a global stock market selloff this week after it said it wants to restructure its debt, including at its property subsidiary Nakheel.

"This downturn has had more of a global impact," said Tony Ciochetti, chairman of Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Center for Real Estate in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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Monday, November 23, 2009

Good News for the Housing Market

By: Sara Sindelar

Finally there is some good news with the economy. Though unemployment may still be extremely low the stock market is making a great increase and real estate sales are starting to move in a positive direction. The National Association of Realtors estimated that sales are up 10.1% in October. This is the highest it has been since February 2007.

With the tax credits in place people are buying more houses. The government has extended the credit till April. The tax credit is a great option for first time home buyers to get a great deal if they can afford to buy a home in this time. This tax credit will hopefully continue to raise housing sales. As more positives occur in the economy will spiral into more positives for the United States economy.

Though we saw a big increase experts feel that there will be a decline before we see another big increase in the next year. We just need to hope that the next year brings good economic times.

Better digs, less money

Posted By: Sara Sindelar

After 19 years in business, Jane Hancock and her husband decided that relocating the Maritime Pacific Brewing Company, a microbrewery and restaurant in Seattle's Ballard District, was a gamble they were ready to make.

"It used to be sort of a sleepy sort of town -- we are right by the water here," says Hancock, whose business moved a few blocks away. "All of a sudden it became chi-chi."

When the recession hit, the Hancocks had to stay optimistic that they would still be able to fill seats in a bigger space. The relocation was pricey: They invested in reconstructing the restaurant, equipping a larger brewery, and shutting down for weeks.

"We had to take it on faith that we will continue to have a popular product, and that this downtime isn't going to hurt us," Hancock says about the decision.

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Commercial Real Estate Up But Still A Rocky Future

By, Meredith Anderson

For the first time since 2007 the commercial real estate activity seemed positive. However this rise although slightly encouraging does not acknowledge the fact that the real estate market had a drastic fall just one year earlier.

The NAR, National Association of Realtors, showed that the brokerage activity rose from .09% to 102.4. However the index is still falling short of what it once was on a couple years ago.

Although there was somewhat encouraging news form the real estate market, credit availability remains a huge problem for the industry. The vacancy of both commercial and residential properties is predicted to reach record highs this year. "Credit availability needs to significantly rebound for any hope of a meaningful commercial recovery in 2010," NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun said. Its a great time to buy, but only if you have the money at hand.


Monday, November 16, 2009

Realtors see sunnier 2010

Posted By: Nicole Nelson

Scott Van Voorhis

OK, here’s one that is sure to get all the housing bears out there feeling downright surly again.

Lawrence Yun, the association’s chief economist, made the sure- to- be-controversial predictions to the faithful assembled at NAR’s annual convention in San Diego last week.

He also noted foreclosures will top out in the first half of next year and the “fear factor’’ of falling prices that has put such a damper on the market will fade.

I guess you have to hand it to Yun, if nothing else, he’s not afraid to stick his head out there.

Still, given some of notoriety the real estate trade group earned for some of its predictions during the bubble years, this is risky territory.