Friday, November 25, 2011

A Tower grows in Brooklyn

The long delayed and controversial Atlantic Tower project for Brooklyn;s Atlantic Yards is on its way to becoming a reality. Designed by SHoP Architects, the 32 story building will be the world’s tallest prefab structure.
While the project will save on energy use, cost and waste, critics note thatthe downside of the prefab efficiencies is the reduction of the promised 17,000 construction jobs to a measly 190.
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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Notorious "Foreclosure Mill" Shuts Down After Halloween Uproar

The NY Times reports that Steven J. Baum P.C., the firm of foreclosure lawyers who had earlier agreed to a settlement of 2 million dollars for improper activities that included "robo-signing" foreclosure documents, will permanently shut down. The reason was not because of their bank related actions, but rather a Times story showing photos of a homeless themed party last Halloween.

Publication of pictures some of of the firm's 89 employees in costumes mocking folks who had lost their homes led Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae to forbid servicers of their mortgages from using Mr. Baum and his colleagues.

Joe Nocera, The Times columnist who originally wrote about the firm’s Halloween party, published another column about the controversy. In it, he quoted an e-mail that Mr. Baum had sent him last week.
“Mr. Nocera — You have destroyed everything and everyone related to Steven J. Baum PC. it took 40 years to build this firm and three weeks to tear down."

Monday, November 21, 2011

Surprising Rise In Existing-Home Sales

Existing-home sales improved in October while the number of homes on the market continued to decline, according to the National Association of Realtors®.

Total existing-home sales1, which are completed transactions that include single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, rose 1.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.97 million in October from a downwardly revised 4.90 million in September, and are 13.5 percent above the 4.38 million unit level in October 2010.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Evidence Of Liquid Water Found On Jupiter's Moon

Taking a leap beyond the man-made tracks in yesterday's piece, scientists analyzing data from NASA's Galileo spacecraft have found ice blocks on Europa's surface that suggest an interaction between the moon's icy shell and a lake-like body of water under the surface. They now feel they are one step closer to determining whether or not the freezing satellite is suitable for the development of extraterrestrial life.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

China's Latest Landscape Riddles

You may have seen some of these Google Earth images in the news recently. To some, they seem like site specific abstract art. Others find them a signal of an alien invasion. Wired magazine has the definitive collection on their website followed by nearly 200 comments from their savvy readers that speculate on their possible function. The photo pictured here may be a practice target for a satellite war game. Only time will tell which theory is closest to reality.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Occupying Rooftops -- A Novel Way to Spread Solar

(photo from Arlington County via Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0)
As the protesters leading the Occupy Wall Street movement decry the big banks that crashed the economy, foreclose homes and continue to finance mega fossil fuel projects like the Tar Sands, community solar represents one path forward: clean energy created for and by the people. Community solar projects are taking the first steps toward a future where people can move their money out of low-yield savings accounts and into safe and high-yield solar investments that lower carbon emissions and create green jobs and local prosperity. Occupy Rooftops, organized by community solar advocate Solar Mosaic, aims to make that point this November 20th. Get together with your family and friends and take a picture occupying the rooftop of a community building that you want to take solar!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Low Time to Buy or ReFi

The latest issue of Mortgage Reports explains why It's a great time to buy and an even better time to refi.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Half of All Mortgages Now Effectively Under Water

CNBC Real Estate Reporter Diana Olick gives us reality check on todays Realty market.

Negative equity rose to 28.6 percent of single-family homes with mortgages in the third quarter of this year, according to Zillow. That's up from 26.8 percent in the second quarter. In real terms, that's 14.6 million borrowers. As Olick explains it, the biggest drag on the housing market is the growth in "effective" negative equity, which is borrowers who have so little equity in their homes that they cannot afford to move.

Monday, November 07, 2011

6 house repairs you shouldn't neglect

Home maintenance chores can be daunting, especially for newer homeowners who aren't familiar with their home's maintenance needs. When the list of home repair chores, from inspecting the roof to regrouting the bathtub, grows overwhelming -- perhaps because necessary tasks have been put off due to financial pressures -- the question naturally arises: What's most important?

The answer: Maintenance chores that involve safety or water intrusion should be top priority, according to David Tamny, 2010 president of the American Society of Home Inspectors and owner of Professional Property Inspection in Columbus, Ohio.

"One of the most important elements of homeowner maintenance is anything that has to do with drainage or water flow. Gutters or problems with grading and drainage around the structure that can contribute to foundation problems are probably things you don't want to defer," he says.

More details here from

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Blowing in the Wind

The Windstalk energy concept was created by a New York design firm Atelier DNA for the planned city Masdar, a 2.3-square-mile, automobile-free area being built outside of Abu Dhabi. The proposal for the ambitious project includes 1203 stalks that are 180 feet high (55 meters) and are anchored on the ground with concrete bases that range between 10 to 20 meters in diameter. They are made from carbon fiber reinforced resin poles, about a foot (30 cm) in diameter at the base and 2 inches (5 cm) at the top. There are LED lights at the top of the stalks, and their intensity varies with the force of the wind. If there's no wind, there's no light.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

10 Cities With The Lowest Poverty Rates

From The Huffington Post:
Across metropolitan America, poverty rates vary widely, according to a recent report from the U.S. Census Bureau. Indeed, the city with the highest poverty rate and that with the lowest are separated by a full 25 percentage points. The report examined poverty levels in areas with more than 500,000 people last year.
In general, highest-poverty cities tend to be found in southern cities, low-poverty cities in the North, a trend mirrored at the state level. Speficially, seven out of the 10 cities with the lowest poverty rates are located in the Northeast.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011