First Housing Now Oil
In Charlotte, N.C., gasoline at nearly $4 a gallon is cracking "the survivors," as credit counselor Bruce G. Hamlett calls them. They're the people who played by the rules and kept up their mortgage and utility payments even as neighbors gave up and moved away, leaving empty homes. Now, crazy prices at the pump are pushing even these survivors over the edge.
Don't Raid Retirement Savings to Pay the Mortgage
I have two home loans totaling 100% financing. Both are variable-rate, interest-only loans. The 80% loan is a 5-year ARM; the 20% loan is a home-equity loan in which the rate changes monthly. I have been in my $389,000 home since July 2004 and I am starting to have trouble making the payments, but I have not missed one yet. The present value of my home is probably less than what I owe on it, but not greatly so. The only money I have available to continue to make the payments is my 401(k).
The Lowdown on LIBOR
Financial institutions the world over use Libor—short for the London interbank offered rate—to set the interest paid on everything from mortgage loans to complex financial instruments. But now questions are being raised about whether the rate has been manipulated.
Countrywide Wants Up-Front Payments to Discuss Some Loan Mods? So What?
Last week’s Investor’s Business Daily painted a pretty rough picture of everyone’s favorite industry whipping post Countrywide Financial Corp., after getting wind of a servicing policy that requires some delinquent borrowers to pay 30 percent of arrearages before the lender will begin discussing loan modification options — fees that the reporter, Kathleen Doler, called “a steep entrance fee.”
Rates Rise, Lenders Get Strict
Every time you fill the gas tank, you get a lesson in why mortgage rates are rising. Mortgage rates went up this week because prices for fuel and food keep moving higher and higher.
Lose Home, Pay More Tax
Some of the biggest losers in the real estate slump are not purchasers of mansions they could not afford. They are buyers of second homes — or third ones, for that matter — who are sitting on a tax time bomb.
Raising the New Roof
Green roofs are nothing new. In their book, Planting Green Roofs and Living Walls, Nigel Dunnett and Nöel Kingsbury report that the idea has “been [around] for centuries.” Historically, say the authors, people in present-day Turkey, Iraq and Iran built homes of mud or earth with grass-covered rooftops.
“Vladimir Ossipoff was kind of a legend in Hawaii,” says architect Dean Sakamoto, curator of Hawaiian Modern: The Architecture of Vladimir Ossipoff, an exhibition celebrating the work of this midcentury master, first held at the Honolulu Academy of Arts last November.
Ask the Expert
What's green, low cost, stylish and low maintenance product for tub and shower enclosures?
Inside a Billionaire's Real Estate Trouble
Burlingame, Calif. -Tim Blixseth
grew up poor in Oregon, made a fortune selling timberland, and thanks
to his skilled dealmaking, created The Yellowstone Club, a posh private
skiing and golf resort on a vast spread in the mountains near Big Sky,
Montana. In large part due to his ownership of the Yellowstone Club, he entered the ranks of the Forbes 400 Richest Americans; last year, his net worth was an estimated $1.3 billion.
Fall or NY Real Estate Dynasty
It always seemed as if Harry Macklowe, the most famous of New York City's swashbuckling developers, was fated to lose it all one day. In good times, he borrowed heavily to expand his real estate empire. In bad times, Macklowe avoided catastrophe by sweet-talking his bankers - or battling them in court.
Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda
1. Waiting too long for the green consultation
We should have coughed up a little extra money and brought in a green design person while we were still designing the house.
Hz So Good
Architects Simon Beames and Simon Dickens are worried. They are worried about the impact that construction makes on the environment, though they are equally concerned about being thought of as patchouli-scented Deadheads.
Housing Affordability Index: Surprise, It's a Buyer's Market
The National Association of Realtors released its latest report today on the Housing Affordability Index [HAI] for April, showing a slight decline to 129.4 from the March level of 130 (see chart below) due to a slight increase in median-price home in April.
Vader Garage Rehab Will Take Your Breath Away!
My man over at 100k House ran into a guy in Philly that just finished this green garage rehab and has it for sale on Craigslist. Long and short, three University of Pennsylvania Master of Architecture majors agreed to forgo the traditional route of finding summer internships and decided to buy, design, and rehab a house in Philly.
Five Green Ideas for Your Kitchen Renovation
Gwendolyn Bounds invested about 16 months and $83k in her posh, green kitchen remodel. The process was slightly more difficult than she imagined, but nonetheless, as you can see from the below video: the result is quite nice.
Which Metros Feel the Most Pain? A Look at Case-Shiller
More bad news on the housing market: Released today, the S&P/Case-Shiller home-price indexes showed home prices across the country fell 14% from a year earlier, representing the largest drop in the 20-year history of the indexes. From the fourth quarter, prices fell 6.7%. (See WSJ article.)
FROM AROUND THE REGION: DC-MD-VA
Transit on Thursday: Not Down with ICC Edition
You might have missed it between the hot dogs and the pool parties and enjoying the warm weather, but Saturday's Post ran a front page story on the sad afterthoughts of Maryland's Intercounty Connector — a neighborhood that is literally being split, run over, and wiped from the land it sits on.
Resting on a Peninsula, with Little Pretense
Cabell P. Bragg seems oblivious to what many would consider his million-dollar view of the Patuxent River.
Foreclosures Hitting Military Families Felt in Woodbridge
Home foreclosures hitting military families in Woodbridge are growing at one of the fastest paces in the nation, according to a Bloomberg News report, citing data collected by RealtyTrac.
Looking for a Free Ride?
A program called Ride Free is going on now! The Northern Virginia Transportation Commission set up this program for the summer to help residents do our part to improve air quality.
Washington Business Leaders Form Coalition to Help Solve the Workforce Housing Crisis
"Workforce housing has become a big problem for us; driving to affordability is no longer an option," J. Michael Pitchford, co-chair of the Washington D.C. ULI Terwilliger Center for Workforce Housing, explained to more than 60 business leaders at a breakfast meeting May 14th at the Bank of America offices.
Yards Park Phase I Get Zoning Approval
In what chair Anthony Hood remarked might have been the Zoning Commission's first-ever landscape architecture-only case, the Zoning Commission on Thursday night approved the design for the first phase of the waterfront park at The Yards, the nearly 6-acre green space along the Anacostia River on the site of the once walled-off Southeast Federal Center.
Spectrum Redevelopment Moves Forward
The Fairfax County Planning Commission last week unanimously approved redevelopment plans for the Spectrum shopping center in Reston.
Condo Market on the Edge
Valet attendants stand poised at the porte-cochere of the Ritz-Carlton Residences as a doorman ushers visitors toward the marble lobby. A scent called "Icelandic Moon Flower" wafts through the adjacent spa. Pathways wind through the manicured lawn and gardens, just steps from a new stretch of downtown Baltimore's waterfront promenade.
Charlottesville Firm Designs Horse-Oriented Communities
Sure, it would be nice to have a few acres with a couple of horses grazing in the front paddock, but, honestly, who has the time for all that barn work? A better solution might be to follow the example of golfers, who live next door to their hobby but let someone else do the work.
Playing Low Ball
In the year and a half that Ann Page has struggled to sell her five-bedroom McLean home, she has received an array of lackluster offers that fell below her original $2.499 million price tag.
This five-bedroom Falls Church home has “superior craftsmanship and materials” and is “loaded with luxury features,” including a recreation room with a home-theater wing, high ceilings, and a gourmet kitchen. Unfortunately, it’s been a stress-inducer to unload.