Entries in Real Estate (40)


California Home Sells for a Record $100 Million

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(LOS ALTOS HILLS, Calif.) -- Russian investor Yuri Milner is now the proud owner of a 25,500-square foot palatial mansion in Los Altos Hills, California that went for a whopping $100 million -- the most ever paid for a home in the U.S.

But Milner can surely afford it.  He runs international investment firm Digital Sky Technologies and his investments include Facebook Inc., Groupon Inc. and Zynga Inc.

The home was sold by Fred and Annie Chan.  Fred Chan started ESS Technology, which designs and markets audio and video products for consumer markets.

Reports are that Milner is in no rush to move into the 18th-century French chateau-style home, which features a ballroom, home theater, wine cellar and indoor pool.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Many Hesistant to Buy Homes Despite Lower Mortgage Rates, Prices

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Mortgage rates are low and housing prices have dropped, but many consumers are still very reluctant to buy.

Drops in sales of new and existing homes fell last month, but so have average prices.  Yet, comparisons between the two are difficult to make.

"These prices are reflecting smaller homes with more modest amenities," says David Crowe of the National Associated of Home Builders.

Local housing markets also vary a great deal, with some faring better than others.

"There are markets in the country that are beginning to recover," says Crowe.  "States like Texas and Oklahoma are doing okay."

Despite improvements in some markets, prices are being dragged down in places where there are many foreclosures.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Apartment Rental Costs Rising as Fewer People Are Buying Homes

Hemera Technologies/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- More Americans are renting instead of buying homes, which means those seeking to rent apartments may end up paying more.

The average apartment rental rose five percent last year, and more price hikes are expected to come.

"One thing that's guaranteed is that in the next year rents will continue to rise," says Anna Maria Andreotis of

And if you plan to rent, be careful of hidden costs.  Some landlords require tenants to get renters insurance, and renting out a self-storage space to store what won't fit in an apartment can be expensive.

"On average it costs about $150 a month for a space that's about half the size of a one-car garage," Andreotis says.

Many people are renting and not buying due to worries on job security and for fear of locking themselves into a home they won't be able to sell.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Save Big: Buy a Foreclosed Home

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- How would you like to knock tens of thousands of dollars off the price when you buy a home? You can do just that if you buy a foreclosed property.

Last year, across the country, houses that had been through foreclosure sold for an average of 28 percent less than other houses. The median home price in America is about $160,000, so if you get that 28 percent discount, that's a savings of nearly $45,000.

There are two main junctures at which you can purchase a foreclosed property: on the courthouse steps when it is being auctioned off to satisfy the debt owed to the mortgage company. Or after that same bank has bought the property back itself in order to recoup its investment.

This second is known as a bank-owned or "real estate owned" property. You can also buy a property before the bank forecloses, usually in a short sale situation, where the homeowner is trying to sell it at a discount to avoid foreclosure. Since the bank has not yet foreclosed, this is really a different sort of transaction, with lots of messy complications as the homeowner tries to save -- and possibly stay in -- their home.

Auctions On Courthouse Steps

You hear the phrase "auctioned on the courthouse steps" frequently, but the truth is, not all of these auctions are conducted at courthouses. Some states hire professional auctioneers and ask that the auctions be held at the auctioneer's office. Others allow them to be held on the premises of the property being sold. Some of these auctions are conducted by professional auctioneers, while others are run by the local sheriff's office and some are handled by attorneys.

If you are hoping to buy a property at one of these initial auctions, where the bank is repossessing the home from the mortgagees, it's a good idea to attend several and get a feel for how they work before you actually bid. Keep in mind that many of these auctions are canceled at the last minute when the homeowners somehow work out a deal with the bank. Re-check listings before heading to the auction site.

Typically you cannot get inside to see the property, but here is one helpful hint: if the property changed hands in recent years, there may still be photos and details archived in the Multiple Listing Service that real estate agents have access to. Ask licensed agents if they can conduct a search for you.

Bank-Owned Properties

Industry experts say bank-owned properties are already marked down 20 to 30 percent compared with other homes in the neighborhood, so you may not have much luck making a lowball offer of even less. However, if the home has been on the market a long time, your chances are better of talking the price down. It helps to know if there are other liens against the property for homeowner's association dues, property taxes and so on, because then you can calculate how much the bank needs to get out of the property to break even.

Banks are not required to disclose defects in the property in the same detail that regular sellers are because they have not lived in the home. It's important to get an expert home inspection to look for expensive flaws. If you are in a competitive bidding situation, you may be able to get a "pre-inspection." This inspection is conducted before you make your offer, and will help you decide if the place is in good enough shape to make an offer at all.

Nearly all bank-owned properties are listed on an as-is basis. That means the bank is stating it will not repair defects to the property. If you find flaws, you should mark your offer down accordingly. Alternatively, if the property has been sitting around for awhile, even though the bank has listed it "as is," it may be able to pay for repairs in order to get the home off of its books.

It's best to approach any home purchase with your own pre-approved financing in place, but since you are dealing with a bank, it is quite possible that they will want you to get pre-approved by their own mortgage department as well. Some banks selling properties will actually offer to provide you a mortgage for a property. It's a fine idea, as long as you have shopped around elsewhere and know you are getting a good rate and fees.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Tips for Finding Foreclosed Homes

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- If you're interested in trying to save money by buying a foreclosed home, half the battle is finding the listings.

Roughly a quarter of the homes on the market right now are bank-owned.  But quick online searches reveal lots of questionable companies posting old listings or charging big bucks for them.

Here are some legitimate options:

-- Look in the legal notices pages of your local paper to spot legitimate auctioneers advertising courthouse steps auctions in your area.  Then check those auctioneers' websites for listings.

-- Some banks list their inventory of properties on their websites. One way to find these lists is to search the name of the bank and the term "REO," which stands for "Real Estate Owned" and means bank-owned.

-- The real estate website lists properties for sale and lets you filter your home search to look just for foreclosure properties.

-- Sometimes, after a bank has already bought properties back on the courthouse steps, it will hold another auction to try to move several properties at once.  It's just another way of marketing a property.  Three of the biggest auction companies that do these bank-owned property auctions are REDC (Real Estate Disposition Corporation), Hudson and Marshall, and Williams and Williams.

-- Hire a buyer's agent who specializes -- or at least has experience -- in foreclosed homes.  They will know how to target the bank-owned properties that are posted on the Multiple Listing Service.

-- is a foreclosure education and listing service.  The site offers a one-week free trial, then it's by subscription.  According to the site, the 10 states where foreclosed properties were offered at the biggest discount from market price during 2010 are:

1. Ohio, 43 percent discount
2. Kentucky, 40 percent discount
3. Tennessee, 35 percent discount
4. California, 35 percent discount
5. Pennsylvania, 35 percent discount
6. Illinois, 35 percent discount
7. New Jersey, 35 percent discount
8. Michigan, 35 percent discount
9. Georgia, 35 percent discount
10. Wisconsin, 35 percent discount 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Federal Regulators: Commercial Real Estate Market Still Distressed

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Though the commercial real estate market has seen signs of stability, financial regulators acknowledged Friday the market remains strained and will need time to fully recover.

Financial regulators and industry experts went before the TARP Congressional Oversight Panel in a hearing to examine the commercial real estate market and its implications on bank stability.

“The term of a commercial loan creates a lag between the moment the market collapses and the moment that the economic impact is felt,” Chairman Ted Kaufman said. “The fuse has been lit, but no one knows how much damage will occur when it finally burns down.”

In prepared testimony, a Fed official said that losses in the commercial real estate market do not pose a threat to large banks.

“Notably, CRE concentrations are not a significant issue at the largest banks,” said Patrick Parkinson, director of the division of banking supervision and regulation at the Federal Reserve.  “While problems in the CRE market will be an ongoing concern for a number of banking organizations and a negative factor for economic growth and lending, we do not see CRE losses as a threat to systemically important financial institutions.”

Despite this little impact on big banks, panel members said uncertainty still remains on the course to recovery for the commercial real estate market, particularly concerning small banks.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Top 10 Cities to Buy a Home in 2011

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Home values have fallen 26 percent since the market's peak in 2006 -- and as much as 50 percent in some areas.  But if you have good credit and plan to buy a home and live there for at least five years, it can be a great time to bag a real estate bargain.

ABC News partnered with real estate website to figure out the best places to buy in 2011.  Zillow looked at four regional factors to determine the top choices -- affordability based on median home costs, unemployment rates, foreclosure rates and price increases in home values.

Here are the top 10 best places to buy in 2011 after analyzing those four factors:

1. Utica, New York
2. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
3. Rochester, New York
4. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
5. Tulsa, Oklahoma
6. Albany, New York
7. Lancaster, Pennsylvania
8. Madison, Wisconsin
9. Green Bay, Wisconsin
10. Lincoln, Nebraska

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Home Values Dropped by $1.7 Trillion in 2010

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(SEATTLE) -- What millions of Americans consider their most valuable asset depreciated again in 2010., an online real-estate marketplace, reported Thursday that the value of homes across the nation fell by another $1.7 trillion this year, a 63 percent increase from the $1 trillion loss in 2009.

Stan Humphries, Zillow’s chief economist, said, “Despite a strong start to 2010, by the end of the year, homes lost more of their value in 2010 than they did in 2009.”

Humphries offered that first-time home buyer credit from the government spurred sales through the first half of this year but once these incentives expired, the housing market took a major hit.

This also means that a record 23.2 percent of single-family home owners owe more on their mortgage than their house is worth.

Since the end of the housing boom in 2006, Zillow estimates that about $9 trillion in value has been lost.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


It's Buyer Beware When Shopping for a Foreclosed Property

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Homebuyers shopping for foreclosed properties may believe challenge contains opportunity and it can certainly be true. 

Kathleen Day of the Center for Responsible Lending says there can also be some big challenges, including bank mistakes.

"They still will have to prove in each case they have proper documentation," Day said.

Without meticulously correct paperwork on the foreclosure itself, the new buyer may end up in a court battle and spending the money they saved on the sale on legal fees.

The government is investigating foreclosures and many banks have suspended them until the process can be refined.  Day says it's a sign something is not right in that part of the lending industry.

"It's indicative of a foreclosure process that's broken."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio



Bank of America Halts Sales of Foreclosed Homes 

Photo Courtesy - PRNewsFoto | Bank of America(NEW YORK) -- The nation's largest bank, Bank of America, stopped sales of foreclosed homes in all 50 states Friday, a sign that the growing crisis in the real estate industry over flawed foreclosures is worsening.

Bank of America executives said that the decision will allow them to review the documents that it uses to process foreclosures.  Just a week earlier, they halted sales of foreclosed homes in 23 states.

"We will stop foreclosure sales until our assessment has been satisfactorily completed," Bank of America spokesman Dan Frahm said in a statement. "Our ongoing assessment shows the basis for our past foreclosure decision is accurate."

Bank of America is not alone.  Friday, PNC Financial Services Inc, said that it will halt most foreclosures and evictions in 23 states for a month to review their documents.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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