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News And Mortgage Reports
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Zillow: 30-Year Fixed Mortgage at 3.82%

2014-11-18 21:03:00

Filed under: News, Buying, Financing, Refinancing Zillow*The weekly mortgage rate chart illustrates the average 30-year fixed interest in six-hour intervals. By Lauren Braun Mortgage rates for 30-year fixed mortgages fell this week, with the current rate borrowers were quoted on Zillow Mortgages at 3.82 percent, down from 3.90 percent at this same time last week. The 30-year fixed mortgage rate hovered around 3.85 percent for most of the week before falling to the current rate. "Rates remained flat for most of last week, but dipped slightly early Monday on news that Japan fell into a recession in Q3," said Erin Lantz, vice president of mortgages at Zillow. "Despite incoming inflation and home sales data, we do not expect rates to move dramatically this week." Additionally, the 15-year fixed mortgage rate this morning was 2.99 percent, and for 5/1 ARMs, the rate was 2.82 percent. Purchase Mortgage Application Activity Zillow predicts tomorrow's seasonally adjusted Mortgage Bankers Association Weekly Application Index will show purchase loan activity to increase by 4 percent from the week prior. To learn more about this Zillow analysis, click here. What are the interest rates right now? Check Zillow Mortgages for mortgage rate trends and up-to-the-minute mortgage rates for your state.  Read | Permalink | Email this | Comments

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House of the Day: Michigan Victorian With Lighthouse

2014-11-17 13:05:00

Filed under: News, Buying, House of the Day ZillowThis Bellevue Island home with three bedrooms is on the market at $415,000. By Emily Heffter The lakeside community of Lake Orion was a popular weekend getaway for the wealthy of Detroit in 1900, when this Victorian home was built. In its heyday, Bellevue Island had an amusement park with an old wooden roller coaster. Now the quiet community about an hour outside of Detroit is known more for its great school district. The sellers raised two daughters in the three-bedroom, two-bath home while restoring its unique features and have it on the market at $415,000. "They brought it back to life over the last 20 years," said Leslie Mihalak, the RE/MAX listing agent. Most notable are the home's two copper-topped towers: A five-story working lighthouse on the lakefront side serves as a hidden fort, accessible via ladder from one of the bedrooms. On the land side of the house, a second tower looks like a windmill. The owners painted the original cedar shake siding a raspberry color, and the bottom of the house is constructed of fieldstone. Inside, the home is modernized with an updated kitchen, granite countertops and wood floors. There are beautiful views of the lake, two docks and a patio.  Read | Permalink | Email this | Comments

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House of the Day: Ivy-Covered 'Castle' in The Hamptons

2014-11-14 07:56:00

Filed under: News, Buying, House of the Day Zillow"The Castle" in Southhampton, New York, would stand out even if it didn't have a turret. By Emily Heffter The upscale village of Southampton, New York, is an oceanfront enclave of shake-sided beach mansions and 1920s stucco homes. So this red-brick historic home for sale at $4.3 million would stand out, even if it didn't have a turret. Locally known as "the castle," this 1911 home at 143 Herrick Road, Southampton, is on the National Register of Historic Places. The home's owner, William Sofield, is a world-class designer who bought the home for $830,000 in 1999 and restored it carefully. He updated all the systems but decorated the interior in the arts-and-crafts style of the home's era. There is no stainless steel or white marble in the kitchen -- he instead used white, retro appliances. The home is on the small side for the area -- less than 3,000 square feet -- and is covered in ivy, so that it just peeks out of surrounding greenery. There are two bedroom suites on the main level. In the turret, the master bedroom has a free-standing soaking tub. The gazebo poolhouse is perhaps the home's most distinctive feature, with carved windows and doors. The 0.43-acre property is landscaped with gardens and brick walkways, with a heated gunite pool. Harald Grant of Sotheby's International Realty holds the listing.  Read | Permalink | Email this | Comments

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Jon Stewart Triples Money on Tribeca Duplex Deal

2014-11-14 01:14:00

Filed under: News, Celebrity Homes, Selling Zillow Comedian Jon Stewart just sold two loft units in this Tribeca building for $17.5 million. APJon Stewart Funnyman/pundit Jon Stewart has unloaded his duplex loft in New York City's Tribeca neighborhood for $17.5 million in a private deal. And a good deal it was for "The Daily Show" host, who bought the units in 2005 for $5.8 million, a year after the building went condo, reports The Real Deal. In true Stewart style, the duplex on 161 Hudson St. was officially owned by the Stanley Monkey Trust, named after Stewart's pit bull named Monkey and cat, Stan. The condo, in a prewar building with just 24 units, features three-direction exposures and 600 square feet of terrace and 1,200 feet of private roof. Actor Jeremy Piven reportedly also owns a condo there. The New York Post says Stewart owns two lakeside properties in Red Bank, New Jersey, worth a total $7 million. Permalink | Email this | Comments

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We Can Build Toward an Energy-Efficient Future, If We Want To

2014-11-14 00:05:00

Filed under: News, Buying, Lifestyle Courtesy of Sergio PucciThe futuristic Casa Iseami in the jungle of Costa Rica is totally off the energy grid. Whether you view the recent deal that President Obama brokered with China to cut greenhouse gas emissions as a long-overdue breakthrough or "irresponsible" and "expensive," here's a fact: We already have the cost-effective know-how to achieve its goals by changing the way we use energy in our homes -- and do it in style. Under the agreement announced on Nov. 12, the United States would substantially cut emissions by 2025 (26 to 28 percent less than in 2005). One of the ways this can be done is by transforming our dependence on coal and oil to solar and wind power. About 40 percent of the energy used in this country is used to heat and cool buildings -- and we have the technological means to drastically reduce our dependence them for that. Courtesty of Sergio Pucci Casa Iseami's large exterior overhang allows natural light to pass through to the seating area below. Many countries, particularly those in the European Union, already are working to meet their commitments to the Kyoto Protocol adopted in 1997. This means a 20 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, a 20 percent increase in renewable energy and a 20 percent improvement in energy efficiency by 2020. It's becoming the norm for homes there to be built to meet these standards. The rising cost of energy in many countries also motivates homeowners to build houses that are less reliant on fossil fuel. Some houses are built in locations where there's simply no access to fossil fuel, so must be designed to use less energy to operate or even become self-sufficient by creating energy. My book, Prefabulous World, profiles some of the most energy efficient and "green" houses in 20 countries, including the United States. Most homeowners who live in very energy efficient houses report their energy bills are half to a fraction of that of their neighbors. Jeff Armstrong, an architect and homeowner of a LEED Platinum house (see the slideshow below) in Ontario, Canada, reports his house consumes about half of the energy used by a similar-size house for space and water heating. Another very energy-efficient house, Casa Iseami (pictured above), built in the deep tropical jungle of Costa Rica, is totally off the grid. Researching these homes was an opportunity to explore some of the innovative methods and materials being used to save energy and conserve resources in other countries. We can learn from Often people assume energy-efficient and prefab homes to be unattractive. But those conceptions couldn't be further from the truth. those ingenious and creative technologies developed for these homes. The following are just a few of the methods and materials: One of the most important ways to reduce the need for heating and cooling is to have very efficient insulation. One excellent example of a new technology is Aerogel that was used in a house in the Netherlands -- the Energy Neutral Residence. Aerogel insulation was developed for NASA and is one of the lowest density materials on earth but a highly effective insulator. It is four times more efficient than fiberglass or foam. Yankee Barn Homes in the United States uses a polyisocyanurate insulation in their panels. It offers high R-value per inch and fire resistance. The Laurel Hollow house in East Hampton, New York. was built using these panels. This same insulation was used in The Morris Island House in Ontario, Canada. That house was certified LEED Platinum and showed to be quite airtight on a blower door test (1.5 ACH at 50 Pascals). A house In Ebeltoft, Denmark -- Villa Langerkamp -- incorporates a "solar comb façade": a thin honeycomb-like pattern which passively helps to heat and cool the house. Several houses in the book, including this one, have retractable blinds, which can minimize heat gain in the summer and reduce the need for air conditioning. The Elsternwick house in Melbourne, Australia, was built using a steel frame, structural insulated panels (or SIPs) and modular construction. The steel frame made the construction very strong, the SIPs made it very energy efficient and the modular construction allowed this house to be completed in just three weeks. Concept Bio Architect Frèdèric Michel used a patented fabric on awnings on the south façade of his Evolutive Home, which absorbs and reflects 97 percent of the sun. One of the most unique and interesting houses I found while researching this book is a house in Dobling, Austria, built like a solar tube. This house was built to passively maintain a comfortable interior environment for the occupants while being very energy efficient. Often people assume energy-efficient and prefab homes to be unattractive. But those conceptions couldn't be further from the truth. As you can see in the photos below -- all of the houses I profile are prefab, very energy efficient, have healthy interior environments, use environmentally friendly materials and are still attractive. Most of the houses are architecturally designed and very well thought out, with consideration toward blending with the neighborhoods where they're located and the aesthetics of their owners. I hope that readers see how easy it is to build a beautiful house that requires less energy to operate and uses fewer resources. The world has a limited amount of resources available to us. If we squander them, we are hurting our children and our children's children. Reducing energy consumption in construction can have a significant effect on overall energy usage in this country. We have the knowledge and ability to reduce this number substantially. I hope anyone considering building a house in the future will use prefabricated methods and techniques and materials that reduce wastage and energy. I have been so inspired by the houses in Prefabulous World; I hope readers will also be inspired to consider some of the methods, materials and systems in this book for their own homes. Permalink | Email this | Comments

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For Rent: Tom Brady, Gisele Bundchen's Pricey Pied-a-Terre

2014-11-13 13:49:00

Filed under: News, Celebrity Homes, Renting, Inside Look Courtesy of Coleman Real Estate GroupTom Brady and Gisele Bundchen's apartment-for-rent features walls of glass overlooking most of Manhattan. APTom Brady, left, and Gisele Bundchen My dream of a Manhattan pied-a-terre is a West Side studio where I can pop into town to see a Broadway show and buy some lox at Zabar's. I don't dream big enough. Because Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and supermodel wife Gisele Bundchen reportedly have a Manhattan getaway that's four bedrooms, 4.5 baths and is on the rental market for $40,000 per month. The 47th floor apartment at 23 East 22nd St. features walls of glass overlooking most of Manhattan and sunsets on the Hudson River. It also features: keyed elevator onto a private entrance foyer. great room overlooking Madison Square Park and the Empire State Building. furnishings by designer Yabu Pushelberg for an extra $2,500/month. custom closets and electric blinds. Not sure if this is a plus, but media mogul Rupert Murdoch reportedly owns the top floors of the building. Curbed reports that Brady-Bundchen bought the apartment in 2013 for $14 million.  Permalink | Email this | Comments

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House of the Day: 'The Godfather' Home in Staten Island

2014-11-13 12:26:00

Filed under: News, Celebrity Homes, Selling#fivemin-widget-blogsmith-image-401567{display:none;} .cke_show_borders #fivemin-widget-blogsmith-image-401567, #postcontentcontainer #fivemin-widget-blogsmith-image-401567{width:570px;display:block;} try{document.getElementById("fivemin-widget-blogsmith-image-401567").style.display="none";}catch(e){} Getty ImagesJames Caan, left, as Sonny and Marlon Brando in the title role of Don Vito in the wedding scene of "The Godfather." Make them an offer they can't refuse -- at least $2.895 million -- and you'll be the new owner of the Staten Island house that played the Corleone home base in "The Godfather" blockbuster. Paramount Pictures selected 110 Longfellow Ave. to serve as the exterior of the mob boss's home, where daughter Connie was married. "The opening scene was filmed in the huge yard," says Joseph Profaci, who works with his mother, the listing agent Connie Profaci. (See the slideshow below.) "They put up a big tent. I was living in Staten Island at the time, and I remember driving by." The house sold in 2012 for $1.69 million after being listed for $2.9 million, according to Zillow. But just when you thought this location for the 1972 movie was out of the market, they pulled it back in with a total facelift and $1 million-plus price increase. The 6,248-square-foot house sits on a half-acre and includes: five bedrooms and seven natural stone bathrooms. dream eat-in kitchen with a breakfast area. great room with built-in coffered ceilings. basement with English pub and "man cave" area. four-car garage. saltwater pool where you can swim with the fishes. Who's likely to buy the house? "A movie buff is going to be excited about living at such a famous location," Joseph Profaci says. "Or somone who wants to raise a family." Our advice: Take the house; leave the cannoli.  Permalink | Email this | Comments

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DIY Effort Makes Industrial Loft Unique

2014-11-13 11:33:00

Filed under: Design, News, How ToBy Mitchell Parker Photos by Ryan Patrick Kelly Photographs After living for six years in his downtown Edmonton loft in the Canadian province of Alberta, this homeowner was ready for a change. He liked the industrial nature of the space -- soaring ceilings, raw redbrick walls, exposed ducting and conduit -- but didn't like its low-grade cabinetry. Plus, he was flat-out tired of his furniture. While he didn't mind getting his hands dirty doing some of the work of refreshing the space, he knew he needed professional help when it came to the layout and choosing colors and furniture styles. He found designer Brenda Brix of AMR Design while searching for local professionals on Houzz and enlisted her help through a design consultation. She wrote up a detailed plan, and he implemented it himself, finding materials and furnishings and even teaching himself how to build and modify pieces. For example, he bought mirror tiles and antiqued them. He took a basic pine cabinet from Ikea and distressed it. He even located his own stainless steel and installed it himself as a backsplash. "I wanted to add personal touches and cool things that people would come in and we could talk about them for five minutes," he says. Industrial living room by Edmonton interior designers and decorators AMR Design Brix's plan divided up the long, narrow space without interior walls into a TV room with a sectional near the farthest window, a reading area with a single chaise in the middle and a conversation grouping with four chairs, seen here in the foreground. The sleeping area is to the right (not shown), separated by bookshelves. Each chair in the conversation area is from a different supplier, because Brix and the homeowner felt that four of the same club chair would have made the space feel too heavy. (Red chair: Costco; leather chair with metal: Wayfair; metal chair with sheepskin: Restoration Hardware) Breaking up the three walls of brick with artwork also kept things from feeling too heavy. The homeowner made the bus stop-style signs himself on canvas. "It brings a little script into the space and flows with the brick, so it feels like you're outside," says Brix. BEFORE: The low-grade kitchen cabinets and lack of a backsplash played a big part in the homeowner's decision for a new look. Industrial kitchen by Edmonton interior designers and decorators AMR Design AFTER: The homeowner removed the cabinets and countertop himself and found a contractor to weld the sink and integrated countertop from stainless steel. He then had the steel cut for the counter-to-ceiling backsplash and enlisted the help of his neighbor to install it. He created the live-edge floating shelf from a piece of wood he picked out at a local supplier and attached it himself. He bought the range hood from Costco and took it to a local powder-coating shop. The stairs lead to a home office. Drum shades from Ikea replaced a wineglass rack that had hung over the island. While the loft gets a good amount of light from three large windows, during the winter it gets dark by 4 p.m., so Brix suggested bringing in more light fixtures, like the chandelier that now hangs over the dining table to the left of the kitchen. Industrial dining room by Edmonton interior designers and decorators AMR Design The homeowner bought the mirror tiles at a hardware store, then used a chemical to remove the paint on the back of each one. He then bought some gold and silver spray paint and sprayed that on the backs and mounted them to create an antique mirror. "It was way more work than I thought it would be," he says. Industrial home bar by Edmonton interior designers and decorators AMR Design A chaise lounge provides an intimate spot for reading. For the liquor cabinet, the homeowner had looked at retail stores for something distressed or whitewashed but thought he'd like to try distressing one on his own. So he bought a plain pine cabinet from Ikea and went to the local Benjamin Moore paint store, where an employee gave him some guidelines on what to do. Before assembling the cabinet, he applied two coats of white paint as a base, then did a little sanding on each piece. He then played with brown and green colors in a couple of layers and sanded the pieces until he was happy with what he saw. Chaise: Costco  Permalink | Email this | Comments

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After Recent Gains, Mortgage Rates Head Back Down

2014-11-13 10:23:00

Filed under: News, Buying, Financing, Refinancing Getty Images WASHINGTON -- Average U.S. long-term mortgage rates edged lower this week, approaching their lows for the year. The benchmark 30-year loan rate hovered near 4 percent. Mortgage company Freddie Mac said Thursday the nationwide average for a 30-year mortgage slipped to 4.01 percent from 4.02 percent last week. The 30-year rate, which stood at 4.53 percent back in January, now is at its lowest level since June 2013. The average for a 15-year mortgage, a popular choice for people who are refinancing, ticked down to 3.20 percent from to 3.21 percent. Long-term rates recovered in recent weeks following a five-week decline that had sparked a wave of homeowners looking to refinance mortgages at a bargain rate. To calculate average mortgage rates, Freddie Mac surveys lenders across the country between Monday and Wednesday each week. The average doesn't include extra fees, known as points, which most borrowers must pay to get the lowest rates. One point equals 1 percent of the loan amount. The average fee for a 30-year mortgage was unchanged from last week at 0.5 point. The fee for a 15-year mortgage also remained at 0.5 point. The average rate on a five-year adjustable-rate mortgage rose to 3.02 percent from 2.97 percent. The fee was steady at 0.5 point. For a one-year ARM, the average rate declined to 2.43 percent from 2.45 percent. The fee held at 0.4 point.  Permalink | Email this | Comments

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When Renting Is Better Than Buying

2014-11-13 05:52:00

Filed under: News, Renting ShutterstockWhen deciding whether to rent or own, it's easy to fall prey to myths such as "If you rent, you're throwing money away." To buy, or not to buy? The answer to that question isn't always easy. While there's plenty of advice out there on the topic -- much of it from friends and family who think they know better than you -- it's a highly personal decision. Don't fall prey to rampant myths such as "If you rent, you're throwing money away." That's oversimplified. (Why doesn't anyone mention the money you might "throw away" on interest, property taxes, maintenance, closing costs, and -- heaven forbid -- that eventual foreclosure attorney?) Instead of listening to trite cliches, make a decision within the context of your life. Your age, income, location, stability and career plans play a role in shaping the "buy vs. rent" question. Let's look at a few scenarios in which renting is the better answer. Scenario 1: John is a bachelor living in San Francisco, where the cost difference between renting and buying is extreme. He wants a two-bedroom, one-bath home with at least 700 square feet. In his target neighborhood, a home of that size would cost $1.1 million. Alternately, he could rent a similar property for $4,200 per month. Should John buy or rent? Assuming John offers a 20 percent downpayment, lumps closing costs into his mortgage and secures a 4.5 percent APR on a 30-year fixed loan, John will pay around $4,738 per month if he buys. But he'll also have repair and maintenance fees and other expenses to consider, which can drive his total costs up considerably. If John envisions starting a family or moving to another city in the next three to five years, he may want the flexibility of renting so he can upgrade to a bigger place or move to another location. This also allows him to pay less per month for now, helping him save for the day when homeownership would make more sense for him. Scenario 2: Felicity is trying to repay her $12,000 credit card balance, $45,000 in student loans and her $14,000 car loan. She has some savings built up and makes a decent salary, and all of her friends are telling her what a mistake it is to "throw your money down the drain" as a renter. She's feeling the pressure to take this next step in her life and is confident that she could afford it. Felicity has been told she qualifies for a mortgage, but should she take the leap? While she's technically able to afford buying a home and manage all the costs that go with it, doing that would severely limit her ability to pursue her other financial goals. It would tie up money she could be using to pay down her other debts -- and while those debts linger, she'll (genuinely) be throwing away money on interest charges. For Felicity, the best path would be to focus on clearing herself of other debt first (particularly her high-interest obligations, such as her credit card debt). Once those are settled, then she can look into homeownership without worrying about the debt burden hanging over her head. Scenario 3: Sarah just moved to Kansas City and plans on living there for three years or less. She's found a good job with growth potential that pays her well -- well enough to purchase a home -- and she likes the idea of being a homeowner. But she's just not sure she's ready to settle down in one city yet. Should she rent or buy? In this case, the decision is pretty clear. Sarah's future plans are too up in the air to make buying a home a worthwhile investment. She's better off renting until she figures out her long-term goals. Should she decide down the line that she is ready to settle down in Kansas City, she can look into homeownership. But for right now, it wouldn't be wise to tie herself down to a 30-year mortgage and a home she could just wind up needing to sell in a few years if she decides she wants to move somewhere else. Scenario 4: Brian is planning a career change. He wants to quit his stable 9-to-5 job within the next two years and open a gourmet food truck. He has a family and would prefer to see them settled into their own home rather than a rental, but he's worried about committing himself to something as big as a mortgage when his career is about to undergo a major upheaval. This is another case that's fairly easy to decide. Since Brian's income is about to change drastically, locking himself into a mortgage and all the associated costs of homeownership would not be smart at this time. Should he find his new food truck business doesn't take off as fast as he'd like, it would be better to have the flexibility of a renter so he can roll with the punches. He won't be facing sudden costly repairs that he's responsible for. If he needs to rein in his budget, he can relocate to a cheaper apartment much faster than if he had to sell his home, which could linger on the market for months. Deciding What's Right For You How do you know if renting or buying is the best decision for your personal scenario? Here are some good indications you'd be better off renting, at least for the time being: You don't plan on staying in the area for the long term. Your income is unstable. Your relationship or family status could be changing soon. You plan on switching careers or jobs in the near future. You can't afford all the added expenses that come with homeownership: replacing the water heater, ripping out the carpet, calling a plumber. You need the money to take care of other financial goals first, such as paying down debt or building up savings. You prefer to let someone else handle repairs and maintenance. In the end, only you know what's best for your situation. Don't give in to peer pressure or societal pressure and think you "must" own a home if it wouldn't be a good fit for your personal situation. Paula Pant helps people build wealth, ditch the 9-to-5 and live on their own terms. She quit her office job in 2008, traveled to 30 countries and became a real estate investor. Her blog, Afford Anything, is the gathering point for a tribe that refuses to say "I can't afford it." Permalink | Email this | Comments

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Last updated on Nov 22, 2014.

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