The Week: Most Recent Real Estate recent posts.en-usThu, 10 Jan 2013 10:27:00 -0500http://theweek.com Recent Real Estate from THE WEEKThu, 10 Jan 2013 10:27:00 -0500Will Obama's new lending rules make it harder to get a mortgage?<img src="" /></P><p>In a move that may radically change the housing market, the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on Thursday unveiled new rules designed to essentially <strong>ban the kinds of high-risk loans that contributed to the housing bubble</strong> and the devastating crash that followed. Lenders will be barred from offering deceptive teaser rates that can lure borrowers into loans they can't afford. Banks will also have to verify homebuyers' ability to keep up with their mortgage payments. The aim of the sweeping rules,&nbsp;says Edward Wyatt at <em>The New York Times</em>, is to prevent a recurrence of the "unbridled...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/harold-maass" ><span class="byline">Harold Maass</span></a>Thu, 10 Jan 2013 10:27:00 -0500The surge in new construction: Is the housing market roaring back?<img src="" /></P><p class="p1">This week, the Commerce Department reported that construction on new homes rose 15 percent in September, reaching its highest level in four years and fueling optimism that a recovery was finally underway in the long-moribund housing market. A genuine rebound could benefit the broader economy immensely, boosting home prices, enlarging household wealth, and spurring activity in key industries such as construction and manufacturing. However, analysts have repeatedly proclaimed the housing market's rebirth, only to see it continue limping along. Is the rebound real this time?</p><p class="p1"><strong>Yes. There's no doubt...</strong></p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffThu, 18 Oct 2012 14:53:00 -0400The foreclosure victim who scored an $18 million settlement<img src="" /></P><p>"Look closely at the paperwork if you ever get foreclosed on. It could pay off," says Alexander Eichler at <em>The Huffington Post</em>. It sure did for Lynn Szymoniak, a struggling homeowner who rose to national prominence by exposing a "robo-signing" scandal in which big banks forged documents to push through thousands of foreclosures. With Szymoniak's help, five banks eventually agreed to a "landmark" $25 billion settlement with the government, which was formally concluded this week. As a whistle-blower in a government investigation, Szymoniak was entitled to a chunk of the settlement &mdash; a pretty...</p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffFri, 16 Mar 2012 14:52:00 -0400Could a 14-year-old girl become a real-estate mogul?<img src="" /></P><p>When the housing market went belly up in South Florida, 14-year-old Willow Tufano learned a lesson in opportunity from her real estate agent mother Shannon. The teen bought a home, along with her mom, that they now rent out for $700 a month, according to <em>NPR</em>'s Chana Joffe-Walt. And Willow plans to expand her burgeoning real estate business. Is the teen on her way to real estate stardom? A quick guide: <br /><br /><strong>How does a 14-year-old come to own a home?</strong><br />While tagging along with her mom as she viewed foreclosed houses for investors to purchase and flip, Willow got the idea to sell furniture left behind in...</p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffTue, 13 Mar 2012 06:40:00 -0400The $26 billion foreclosure fraud settlement: By the numbers<img src="" /></P><p>After months of difficult negotiations, government authorities announced Thursday that they have reached a $26 billion settlement with five of the nation's biggest banks over their flawed and fraudulent foreclosure practices. The deal is intended to help troubled borrowers by lowering their mortgage rates and the amounts they owe on their homes. It also will provide restitution to people hit by mortgage-related abuses, such as the "robo-signing" of documents to speed up foreclosures. Who will the deal help, and how much relief will they get? Here, a brief guide to the settlement, by the numbers...</p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffThu, 09 Feb 2012 14:00:00 -0500The 12-year-old who saved his grandmother from foreclosure<img src="" /></P><p>Noah Lamaide is not your average 12-year-old. Since he was 9, the Wisconsin boy has been active in community service, largely inspired by his grandmother, Janice Sparhawk, who has served as a foster parent to hundreds of local children. When foreclosure threatened his grandmother's century-old house recently, the young altruist leapt into action. Here, a short guide to this unusual story:</p><p><strong>What exactly happened?<br /></strong>After taking out a 2010 loan to put a new roof on her circa 1900 home, Janice Sparhawk, 72, fell behind on the mortgage payments. Eye surgery and complications from asthma forced Sparhawk...</p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffThu, 09 Feb 2012 11:36:00 -0500Short sales: The answer to America's housing crisis?<img src="" /></P><p>Banks are stepping up their efforts to get troubled mortgages off their books by&nbsp;offering delinquent homeowners cash incentives to sell their properties at a loss. Are these "short sales" a smart way to clear out the glut of houses in danger of foreclosure and start a housing industry rebound &mdash; or will they just depress prices further? Here's what you should know:<br /><br /><strong>What exactly is a short sale?</strong><br />A transaction in which a house sells for less than the amount the owner owes the bank. The bank agrees to let the homeowner off the hook, and considers the loan paid in full, even though it's not...</p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffWed, 08 Feb 2012 13:40:00 -0500Obama's mortgage plan: Who really benefits?<img src="" /></P><p>President Obama on Wednesday unveiled a new mortgage relief plan for an estimated 3.5 million struggling Americans who owe more on their homes than the properties are worth &mdash; and, therefore, can't get new loans at today's low rates. By securing these people federally insured loans at reduced rates, Obama says, the program would save borrowers an average $3,000 a year. A new tax on big banks would cover the program's cost &mdash; $5 billion to $10 billion &mdash; a strategy Republicans oppose. Could Obama's plan really help Americans who are "underwater" on their mortgages?<br /><br /><strong>Helping underwater...</strong></p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffThu, 02 Feb 2012 10:36:00 -0500Real estate crisis: America underwater<img src="" /></P><p><strong>How many homeowners are underwater?</strong><br />Nearly 29 percent of U.S. homeowners with mortgages owe more on their homes than their properties are worth &mdash; the definition of "underwater." That's about 14.7 million borrowers, and they collectively owe $700 billion. The problem is particularly acute in states where the housing bubble sent prices and new construction soaring in the 2000s: In Nevada, 60 percent of mortgaged homeowners are underwater; in Arizona it's 49 percent, and in Florida, 45 percent. After the housing bubble popped in 2008, home prices plummeted, and are down an average of 33 percent...</p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffFri, 02 Dec 2011 10:50:00 -0500Buy a house, get a visa?<img src="" /></P><p>Two senators &mdash; Republican Mike Lee and Democrat Charles Schumer &mdash; are proposing a novel way to give the housing market a boost. On Thursday, they introduced a bill that would give three-year residence visas &mdash; but not work visas &mdash; to foreigners who invest at least $500,000 in homes in the U.S., provided they live in one at least six months a year. Is selling visas to anybody with a spare half million in the bank a smart, and fair, way to give the housing market a lift?<br /><br /><strong>We should be aiding Americans, not selling visas:</strong> "I like the idea of giving incentives to real estate investors...</p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffFri, 21 Oct 2011 13:55:00 -0400The double-dip housing plunge: 5 theories<img src="" /></P><p>Home prices have fallen below the bottom they hit in 2009 after the housing market collapsed, erasing a moderate bounce that had followed the recession. The S&amp;P/Case-Shiller house price index fell by 4.2 percent in the first quarter of 2011 &mdash;&nbsp;to the lowest level since 2002. Economists warn that the "double dip" in home prices could force many families to slash their spending, increasing the danger that the economy could sink into recession again. What's to blame for this sputtering economy? Here, five theories:<br /><br /><strong>1. Obama's stimulus did not work</strong><br />The poor housing market isn't the only...</p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffThu, 02 Jun 2011 06:45:00 -0400America's falling house prices: By the numbers<img src="" /></P><p>The American housing crisis is worsening. Prices are tumbling, not only in familiar trouble areas like Nevada and Michigan, but also in cities previously thought to be immune from the crash &mdash; Denver, Chicago and Atlanta. All this bad news is leading to fears that the U.S. is heading to the second half of a "double dip" recession. Here, a look at the numbers behind America's falling house prices.<br /><br /><strong>19 </strong><br />Number of cities out of 20 tracked by Standard &amp; Poor's/Case-Schiller in which home prices fell during January<br /><br /><strong>0.1 percent </strong><br />Growth at which house prices grew during January in the one city that...</p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffThu, 31 Mar 2011 16:31:00 -0400The cheapest houses in America<img src="" /></P><p>Today's dilemma: a sandwich or a house? They both cost about $7, so it&rsquo;s a tough call. Yes, a house. For $7. As the country continues to dig itself out of the wreckage of the housing crisis, you&rsquo;d be surprised at what you can find trolling through the sludge of distressed real estate listings on the Internet. Some 3.4 million homes have been lost to foreclosure&nbsp;since the recession began, and banks are hoping to unload their backlog of neglected homes onto buyers. Sure, the $7 house is boarded up and abandoned, but for the same price as a tube of toothpaste, what do you expect?...</p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffTue, 08 Mar 2011 17:12:00 -0500The town where a trailer costs $559,000: By the numbers<img src="" /></P><p>Across America, homeowners have felt the harsh effects of the burst real estate bubble. But one picturesque mountain town has remained relatively untouched: Aspen, Colo. The luxurious skiing mecca has actually seen a steady increase in housing prices since 2006, and even a home in a trailer park might still set you back more than a million dollars. Here, a brief guide, by the numbers:<br /><br /><strong>$559,000</strong><br />Price of the lowest-priced single family home on the market in Aspen. The house is located in a trailer park.</p><p><strong>$4.6 million </strong><br />Median sale price of an Aspen home, the highest in the country<br /><br /><strong>$5.4 million</strong><br />Average...</p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffTue, 08 Mar 2011 07:15:00 -0500Forget homeownership: Is renting the 'new American Dream'?<img src="" /></P><p>The painful collapse of the housing market has soured many people on the benefits of home-ownership, and there's a new cottage industry of financial commentators who actively discourage Americans from buying a house. According to a new survey by, well, <em></em>, 87 percent of U.S. adults no longer think owning a home is "the most essential aspect of their American Dream." (Real estate site Trulia has its own survey, with completely opposite results.) Is renting wisely really the new aspiration for Americans?</p><p><strong>Renting fits with the original concept of the American Dream:</strong> "The desire of many Americans...</p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffThu, 24 Feb 2011 14:40:00 -0500Is the housing crisis spreading to 'stable' cities?<img src="" /></P><p>Homebuyers and economists alike thought cities like Seattle, Minneapolis, and Atlanta were "immune" from the plummet in housing prices that devastated Florida and the Southwest, says David Streitfeld in <em>The New York Times</em>. Not anymore. In fact, home prices in "bubble markets" like Las Vegas, Miami, and Phoenix are finally stabilizing, while "stable" cities where the housing bubble was "relatively restrained" are feeling the pain, Streitfeld says. What's the lesson here?</p><p><strong>Life isn't fair:</strong> Everyone who blamed the whole housing crisis on fools who "paid $1.3 million for a particleboard McMansion in...</p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffTue, 15 Feb 2011 10:01:00 -0500