Archives For Housing

Are tiny homes the solution to homelessness? A project in Olympia, Washington was started to build a community of tiny homes for the homeless.

Quixote Village, formerly Camp Quixote, was a homeless tent city that moved around to over twenty different locations until the creation of a permanent micro-housing community. Meetings were held with an architect, and the future residents were able to be involved in the design process.

There are 30 tiny homes, each measuring 144 square feet and able to accommodate a bed, desk, and a small bathroom with a toilet and sink. The showers and kitchens are communal and are located inside the community center.

Since the residents were involved in the design process, they asked that the homes be in a horseshoe shape rather than in a row and traded interior space for outdoor patio. They wanted it this way because it felt more like a community.

Similar projects are in the works in cities such as Santa Cruz, Portland and Seattle.

Sources: NY Times, Apartment Therapy

Photo: NY Times

Did you know that nearly 21 million wooden pallets—the kind used for cargo, shipping, and storage—end up in landfills every year? According to I-Beam Design, rather than throwing them out, we could use those pallets to house 44,000 refugees using their Pallet House prototype.

With only 100 recycled pallets and about 4-5 people to help with construction, a 250 square foot Pallet House can be built in a week using only hand tools. With those calculations, one and a half years of pallet production in the United States alone could provide a home for 33 million refugees.

“Wooden shipping pallets provide an inexpensive, readily available, sustainable and highly versatile building module that empowers each family to build according to their own needs,” I-Beam says on their website. “Tarps or corrugated roofing prevent water penetration until enough locally available materials like earth, wood and thatch can be gathered to cover the exterior and fill the wall cavities for insulation. The Pallet House adapts to most climates on Earth and provides a longer lasting, more durable solution to housing some of the world’s 33 million displaced people who spend an average of 7 years in refugee camps.”

I-Beam Design is currently working on housing for people who lost their homes during the earthquake in Haiti and Pakistan.

Source: I-Beam Design

Photos: I-Beam Design

As home values began to rebound following the foreclosure crisis, the number of multi-million dollar homes in California climbed to a record high last year. According to reports from DataQuick, there was a 47% increase (4,500) in properties sold for $2-3 million, a 31% increase in homes sold for $3-4 million, and a 29% increase in homes sold for $4-5 million.

The majority of luxury home sales occurred in 25 cities along the California coast including Manhattan Beach, La Jolla, Hillsborough, Menlo Park, and Los Gatos. California’s most expensive sale last year was an 8 bedroom, 14 bathroom beachfront mansion in Malibu for $74.5 million.

The luxury-home market “responds to its own set of economic factors,” said John Walsh, President of DataQuick. Rather than traditional factors, things like initial public offerings, stock-market performance, and investment decisions can play a greater role.

Check out some of our favorite luxury homes for sale in California (below), or visit Househappy.org to view more properties.

This article can be found in its original form on Bloomberg.

Images: Househappy.org

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View from a home for sale in Oakland, CA; via Househappy.

These ten major metro areas are expected to see the biggest increase in home prices this year according to CoreLogic Case-Shiller’s latest home price forecast:

1. Oakland, California
Median home price: $545,000
Forecast gain through Sept. 2014: 9.3%

2. Fort Worth, Texas
Median home price: $181,300
Forecast gain through Sept. 2014: 8.9%

3. New Orleans, Louisiana
Median home price: $163,000
Forecast gain through Sept. 2014: 8.7%

4. Richmond, Virginia
Median home price: $220,600
Forecast gain through Sept. 2014: 8.5%

5. Hartford, Connecticut
Median home price: $234,000
Forecast gain through Sept. 2014: 8.3%

6. Tampa, Florida
Median home price: $177,000
Forecast gain through Sept. 2014: 8%

7. Baltimore, Maryland
Median home price: $299,000
Forecast gain through Sept. 2014: 8%

8. Birmingham, Alabama
Median home price: $174,000
Forecast gain through Sept. 2014: 7.8%

9. New York
Median home price: $440,000
Forecast gain through Sept. 2014: 7.4%

10. Memphis, Tennessee
Median home price: $122,000
Forecast gain through Sept. 2014: 7.3%

This article can be found in its original form on CNN Money.

Photos: Househappy.org

Augusta by William Lyon Builder's has all of the details of toda

Home for sale via Househappy

Real estate analysts have predicted that 2014 will be the year for sellers; so if you’re waiting to sell your home, you may want to reconsider.

In November, housing prices were up 7.2% from a year prior and the highest since August of 2008, according to the National Association of Realtors. In the 20 largest metro areas prices in October increased sizably. The economic recovery is finally picking up since the housing bust seven years ago. Sellers are finding that they have more room for negotiating as more buyers are entering the market due to drops in the unemployment rate and the increase in consumer confidence.

As mortgage rates are rising pushing home prices up, the amount of for-sale listings are limited. These are some of the factors that come with a sellers market. With limited homes on the market some buyers fear that they won’t be able to find their perfect home.

Buyers are now snatching up properties faster. In November 2013 homes were selling 11% faster than the previous year. In some cities such as New York, homes were selling 20% faster.

Beyond 2014 though, more homes are expected to hit the market. Some analysts say that the supply-demand imbalance that has helped create this seller’s market is largely due to investment firms and others who are purchasing large numbers of homes to turn into rentals.

This article can be found in its original form on MarketWatch.  

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Home for sale via Househappy

Homeowners have been enjoying the price growth that happened in 2013. New construction home sales are also up and previously underwater properties are returning to positive equity. Economists expect home prices to rise another 4 percent to 5 percent in 2014.

With all that in mind, here are 10 tips for homebuyers and sellers from MSN Real Estate:

1. Sellers: Jump-start the process. If you want to sell your house this year, it is best to start planning as soon as possible. Since the process always takes longer than expected, start cleaning and de-cluttering now, and get your home inspected in case there are any repairs you need to fix.

2. Buyers: Be credit-ready. Since there is a lot of competition out there, it is best to get ready ahead of time. Get your credit report and make sure there are no errors. Then start with the pre-approval process on a loan so you can be ready to go when you start looking at houses.

3. Sellers: Search for an agent, and then follow the agent’s advice.  Make sure to hire the right real estate broker to help you sell your house. You’ll most likely want one that is web savvy and uses mobile technology, since most homes are viewed online. Once you find the right agent, accept their advice on pricing, marketing, and negotiation.

4. Buyers: Adjust your negotiating expectations. This year is not the time for lowball offers as they will likely eliminate you from consideration. Try to respond to counteroffers quickly to keep other buyers away and prevent a bidding war. Also, have a few other homes in mind just in case it becomes competitive.

5. Sellers: It’s your market, so make the most of it. Don’t jump at the first seemingly generous offer––especially if you have received more than one. Lastly, never let the buyer’s agent know what you’re willing to do if you planning on giving something extra. Make them ask.

6. Buyers: Find life after foreclosure. If you have had a foreclosure in recently, don’t fret. The Federal Housing Administration requires just a three-year waiting period and there are many nonconforming lenders out there (often called “shadow bankers”) to help you out.

7. Sellers: Hesitate to renovate. There is no need to completely remodel your kitchen if you plan on selling soon. According to remodeling surveys, the average renovation project only returns about two-thirds on investment. In most cases it would be cheaper to drop your price or issue credits to buyers. Smaller jobs such as installing new doors, painting or fixing up the exterior are more practical and will likely have a greater return.

8. Buyers: Ask and you won’t receive. Don’t be afraid to ask questions to the selling party in writing before signing a contract. Ask anything, from questions about the neighborhood, to sex offenders nearby, to commercial zoning, to on-premise felonies, noise pollution and more. If the selling party refuses to answer any of them, that might be a red flag.

9. Sellers: Tailor your local game. Remember that real estate is local and that all markets are different, therefore prices tend to vary. Find out local area trends and statistics as well as recent comparable sales.

10. Sellers and buyers: Heed changing trends. Make sure to pay attention to trends and react to them accordingly.

This article can be found in its original form on MSN Real Estate.

Home for sale via Househappy.org

2013 was a year of highs and lows in the housing market, so what should we be looking for in the year ahead? According to the Wall Street Journal, here are 5 “wild cards to watch” in 2014:

Will inventory rise? 

Though evidence shows that inventories likely bottomed out in 2013 and many markets are moving in favor of buyers, inventory numbers will remain tight. Contributing factors: foreclosure-related listings have fallen, traditional buyers still aren’t listing homes in high numbers, and new construction will take years to return to normal levels.

Where is the home-construction recovery? 

While home prices have begun to recover, they are still too low to justify the land, labor, and materials costs in new construction. Contributing factors: credit is harder to come by for smaller builders, and move-up buyers don’t have enough equity to “trade up” to a new home.

What happens to mortgage credit? 

Mortgages may be easier to come by but borrowing costs and fees could rise. Contributing factors: lenders could begin to ease certain “overlays” (additional credit and documentation checks) that have been imposed over the past few years, and mortgage insurance companies are getting more comfortable issuing loans with down payments of just 5%; however, banks may get more cautious as they face new mortgage regulations, and borrowers with hard-to-document incomes (anyone who is self employed or works on commission, bonuses, etc.) could continue to have a difficult time.

What will investors do with their homes? 

Investors have played a key role in stabilizing home prices in the past few years as they purchased tens of thousands of homes, particularly in regions that were hit hardest by foreclosures. Now that this rush to invest is dying down, more lenders and investors are extending debt financing to property owners to help boost returns.

When does housing hit a tipping point on affordability? 

Though rising prices are giving many homeowners equity in their homes again, price inflation is also making housing less affordable. This will become a bigger problem if cash buyers retreat from the market in 2014 and/or if interest rates rise significantly.

This article can be found in its original form on Wall Street Journal