Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Living Outside of the Box

Shipping container architecture is a great way to build a sustainable home, but many architects and homeowners are also going a step further, and using these building blocks to build truly off-the-grid homes.
The main advantages of such homes are the ability to place them virtually anywhere, minimizing the footprint and lowering the monthly costs to virtually zero.

These sustainable shipping container cabins, built by the Canadian company Ecopods, all feature a 80-watt solar panel and a 12-volt battery, which takes care of its energy needs. The cabins also feature Sun-Mar composting toilets that can evaporate the water from the toilet waste and carry it back to the atmosphere via a specially designed vent system.
The occupants’ water needs are taken care of by a WaterMill- an atmospheric water collection device that is capable of condensing water vapor, while purifying it as well. This system first draws in moist, outside air through an air filter, which then passes over a cooling element, and is condensed into water droplets. These are then collected and pushed through a specialized carbon filter that is exposed to an ultraviolet sterilizer that eliminates all bacteria to provide drinking water.
More container living examples from Jetson Green

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

3% Down is New Again

Yesterday, HousingWire reported that both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac formally announced their 3% down options on home purchases.
Fannie Mae’s plan will be effective December 13, 2014 while the Freddie Mac plan will be available March 23, 2015.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Be Careful with Those Space Heaters -- or Check Out Some Alternatives,,,

The most popular post on TreeHugger right now is 6 Energy-Saving Portable Electric Space Heaters, as people look for ways to keep warm in a shoulder season where the apartment building furnaces are not yet delivering heat, or people don't want to heat the whole house when they think they just need one room.

  There are many ways to keep warm, including cuddling puppies in front of fireplaces..... Go to the comfort calculator on Robert Bean's site and play with it.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Complaints Against Ocwen Continue to Snowball

Ocwen Financial is one of the largest mortgage servicers that operate nationally along with Bank of america and Wells Fargo. They all handle the day-to-day financial tasks involved with managing housing loans, including processing payments.

 Last week, New York State's Department of Financial Services Superintendent Benjamin Lawsky sent an open letter to Ocwen, alleging that the company had backdated potentially hundreds of thousands of letters to borrowers “likely causing them significant harm.”
In most cases, borrowers received a letter in the mail that denied mortgage loan modifications that was dated more than 30 days before it arrived,. Rather than deny the alleagations, Ocwen sent out a letter of apology.

In the aftermath of Lawksy’s letter, ratings agencies, banks and other advisory services seemed to come out of the woodwork to join in the attack on Ocwen for its business practices.

 The largest number of complains were by hundreds of homeowners who had major grievances with Ocwen's handling of their mortgage payments as well as their foreclosure processes. http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2014/10/30/ocwen-cfpb-complaints-earnings/18120629/

Monday, October 27, 2014

Green Building Awards for 2015

BuildingGreen, publisher of EBN, has announced the winners of its annual Top-10 Green Building Products awards. The 13th annual awards recognize green building products that make fundamental transformations to “business as usual” in the design and construction industry.

 This year’s picks include products that have eliminated halogenated flame retardants, a longstanding health and environmental issue, along with a highly effective air- and weather-barrier system, chairs made from a new biobased plastic, and high-efficiency chillers using near-frictionless compressor rotors.

                                                                                                  Pictured here is
FocalPoint -- a high-flow-rate biofiltration system designed to provide the performance of natural stormwater filtration on a very small footprint.

Friday, September 26, 2014

A Homeowner’s Net Worth is 36x Greater Than A Renter!

Over the last six years, homeownership has lost some of its allure as a financial investment. As homeowners suffered through the housing bust, more and more began to question whether owning a home was truly a good way to build wealth.

The Federal Reserve conducts a Survey of Consumer Finances, every three years, and just released their latest edition this past week.
Some of the findings revealed in their report:

The average American family has a net worth of $81,200 Of that net worth, 61.4% ($49,856) of it is in home equity A homeowner’s net worth is over 36 times greater than that of a renter The average homeowner has a net worth of $194,500 while the average net worth of a renter is $5,400.


Bottom Line 
The Fed study found that homeownership is still a great way for a family to build wealth in America.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Immigration and the Housing Market

There are many hot topics right now and immigration is definitely one of them. The history of immigration starting around 1600 shows us the United States has been a country that always received immigrants. Several organizations have done research on the impact immigrants can have on housing demand. Let’s look at some of those results:

 Research done by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) in 2012 states: “Assuming net immigration of 1.2 million (the low end Census Bureau projection for 2010) persists for 10 years, the model estimates that after 10 years new immigrants will: account for close to 3.4 million US households occupy more than 2 million multifamily units and more than 1.2 million single family homes account for more than 900 thousand homeowners”
The Research Institute for Housing America also projects “that from 2010 to 2020 immigrants will count for over one-third of the growth of homeowners and over one-quarter of the growth in renter households.”
 For those looking for local data, a research study performed by AS/COA and Partnership for a New American Economy, provides an interactive map showing “the net change in a county’s immigrant population from 2000 to 2010 and the corresponding effect on median home values.”

 Bottom Line, if we look at the conclusions made by multiple sources, we see that they agree that immigrants will revitalize less desirable neighborhoods and support the housing market. Each group is seeking greater economic opportunities just like the immigrants in past decades that came to United States.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

How To Raise a Family of 4 in a 1,200 sq. Foot Home

Written by y Katherine Marinko for Treehugger: 

 Living in a small house doesn't have to be a battle against lack of space, but rather requires a certain lifestyle adjustment, at which point it becomes wonderful.

 The house that I live in with my husband and two children is small. At 1,200 square feet, it is considerably smaller than the average family home in North America, which measures 2,800 square feet in the U.S. and 2,000 in Canada.(continued)

Friday, August 08, 2014

How FICO Changes Will Increase Homebuyers Odds for Mortgage Approval

DailyFinance.com has a good explanation of some major changes in the way the all important FICO scores are being calculated by the three major credit reporting companies.
Mortgage applications with borderline FICO numbers are frequently avoided by lenders, often unfairly. 
According to The Wall Street Journal, of the 106.5 million consumers with a collection on their report, 9.4 million had no balance. Those 9.4 million American won't be penalized under the new credit-score system. 
Unpaid medical bills will now carry lower weight compared to non-medical debt going to collections. "The median FICO score for consumers whose only major derogatory references are unpaid medical debts is expected to increase by 25 points," according to FICO's release on the new model.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Where 100+ Experts Say Home Prices are Headed

Today, many real estate conversations center on housing prices and where they may be headed. That is why we like the Home Price Expectation Survey. Every quarter, Pulsenomics surveys a nationwide panel of over one hundred economists, real estate experts and investment & market strategists about where prices are headed over the next five years. They then average the projections of all 100+ experts into a single number.


The results of their latest survey(Via Keeping Current Matters)
  • Home values will appreciate by 4.6% in 2014.
  • The cumulative appreciation will be 19.5% by 2018.
  • That means the average annual appreciation will be 3.6% over the next 5 years.
  • Even the experts making up the most bearish quartile of the survey still are projecting a cumulative appreciation of 11.2% by 2018.

Individual opinions make headlines. We believe the survey is a fairer depiction of future values. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Mortgage Rate Predictions

Many of our readers ask us where interest rates are headed over the next several months. While no one has a crystal ball, we did want to share what some experts are saying on the subject.

Freddie Mac
“In the next few months, mortgage rates are likely to remain at their current, low level, but will not remain there for long. As the Federal Reserve is expected to ‘taper’ its purchases of long-term Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities, and as economic growth picks up, long-term yields will gradually rise. Fixed-rate mortgages are expected to be higher in six months, and may even approach 5 percent a year from now.”
National Association of Realtors

“Mortgage rates could move suddenly higher in anticipation of rate increases, much as they did last summer when refinance and transaction activity was high. Steady purchase transaction volume and lower refinance volume could mean that mortgages rates may adjust in a more gradual fashion. In either case, as the economy improves—and today’s data clearly suggests it is improving—the overall trend for mortgage rates is up, not down.”
Fannie MaeProjects the 30 year fixed mortgage rate to be 4.3% by the end of the year.
Mortgage Bankers AssociationProjects the 30 year fixed mortgage rate to be 4.7% by the end of the year.