A Nightmare on Your Street

We found this little piece in The New Yorker, and couldn’t resist sharing. It’s a pleasant little satire on the trials and tribulations of home ownership and home buying in the New York area. To be sure, we find it doubtful that you consider your home the house of your nightmares  but there’s enough in here that carries the satirical ring of truth that we think it can resonate (at least a little) with every homeowner. For those of you who aren’t homeowners yet, don’t worry — it’s not just satirical, it’s also a little hyperbolic. Enjoy!

Autumnal Maintenance

Well, we promised it, and we like to keep to our word, so — now that it’s Autumn, here’s your first Autumnal post. Today we’re focused on taking care of those chores that need to be done before winter sets in. We found this great checklist at demesne.info, that not only covers “in and around the house” and “in the yard and garden” fairly comprehensively, but also provides a bonus checklist covering emergency preparedness and getting your car ready, as well.

In Global Economy, All Investments Relative to Everything Else

A while back, this blog covered the rapid increase in foreign investments in the U.S. housing market. With all of the recent news regarding (and never mind the news, the actual ups-and-down in) the Chinese stock market, it’s worth revisiting this state of affairs. RIS Media seems to be of the opinion that said volatility is likely to increase demand for U.S. real estate by Chinese nationals. But it also adds the need for extra caution amongst real estate professionals, to ensure that the volatility still leaves these foreign investors in a stable position.

Health of The Housing Market

Bloomberg Markets interviews Svenja Gudell, Chief Economist for Zillow, and she makes some interesting points, particularly in light of Yellen’s speech today outlining a case for interest rate hikes this year. One of the key points is understanding the importance of regionality. We get national numbers, but, say, a 0.25 point increase would have a vary different impact in frothy markets like San Francisco than it would in say, Philly. Similar regional arguments apply to renter sentiment.

Subprimes Small, But Growing

In the wake of the recent sub-prime mortgage scandal, everyone is understandably nervous about repeating the past. Recent data indicates that, in fact, sub-prime lending is up significantly (20.4% for HELOCs, 29.5% for home-equity loans, and 30.5% for first mortgages). However, it seems unlikely that there’s cause for concern. Although those percentage increases are large, the number of overall sub-prime loans is very small. Only 146,000 of the 3.3 million mortgages year-to-date were issued to borrowers with a credit score below 620.

Winter Is Coming

It’s official. As of 4:23AM, EDT, this morning, the autumnal equinox was upon us (don’t get us started on why daylight savings time changes don’t align with the equinox). And that means, from here on out, the days are going to be shorter than the nights (though curiously, sunrise and sunset times do not change equally). But don’t get too alarmed just yet. First, it means this blog will have plenty of great, autumnal posts over the next 3 months. And second, the NOAA predicts above average temperatures at least through the middle of October.

Statistical Dart Throwing in Favor of Builders

Predicting future trends from past results can generally be quite successful; however, the more variables involved, the less accurate the prediction. That’s why this blog post seems a little bit like throwing statistical darts. Nevertheless, the Mortgage Bankers Association threw those darts, and Bill Conerly provided a nice summary for Forbes. Net net? If death rates hold, child bearing age doesn’t change too much, immigration predictions are right, and Millennials throw a monkey wrench, then we could be looking at 1.6 million new units per year over the next decade.

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How To Improve Your FICO to Get A Better Rate

We love articles from the Motley Fool, because they’re generally quite the opposite of foolish. Yesterday, they came up with 8 things you can do to improve your credit rating — which will almost certainly also improve the interest rate you can get on your mortgage (or any other loan). Most of them are standard fare (e.g., pay all your bills on time, every time), but some of them are a little more surprising — like don’t close accounts. Hop over to the Fool for all of the details.

Push A Button, Build A House

OK, perhaps you can’t scribble up some notes on your dream mansion, feed the paper into a scanner, and have the home of your imagination pop out — but Big Delta hints at that in the future. Billed as the world’s largest 3D printer, this 40-foot tall behemoth builds houses out of local mud and clay, and almost zero cost. The company designed it to build cheap housing, quickly, in disaster recovery areas, but they’re not afraid to dream big — houses on other planets are listed among potential uses.

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Conflicting Housing Numbers

All signs recently have been pointing to a sustained housing market, but CNBC reported two conflicting numbers today. Housing starts fell in August 3.0%, which was a larger drop than expected — but it’s mostly been in the Northeast, which fell 33%, according to the attached video. On the other hand, building permits in August increased by 3.5%. Combined, the two numbers seem to indicate that things are still positive, but maybe our last article about overvalued doesn’t mean a bubble, might actually be right.