Monday, January 30, 2012

NASA Spotlights 132 years of Global Warming

NASA recently released a time lapse visualization that depicts global temperature changes since 1880. Although nine of the 10 warmest years on record have occurred since 2000, 2011 was only the ninth warmest year on record, according to NASA.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

How about Some Cool Wheels With That Cozy Condo?

In a last ditch effort to buck the slow housing market, and sell their new development's last three units, Community Housing Innovations in White Plains is offering a prepaid, two-year lease on a Honda Civic for qualified first-time homebuyer

s. The hope is the deal will sell all three remaining apartments in White Plains, which have been on the market over a year.

First-time homebuyers for the 14-unit Minerva Place complex cannot earn more than $100,000 for the three remaining units, which range from $225,000 to $275,000 for the pair of two-bedroom and single one-bedroom units.

Friday, January 27, 2012

1889 NJ

Here's a fascinating geological map of NNJ from the Rutgers archives.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Obama Proposes Expansion of ReFi Plan to Most Homeowners

President Obama proposed a new program during his State of the Union address Tuesday to allow homeowners with privately held mortgages to refinance at lower interest rates. The plan would expand his recent effort to help troubled homeowners reduce their mortgage payments. The proposed legislation could give "every responsible homeowner" the ability to take advantage of low interest rates.

The President expressed concern for the
millions of innocent Americans who’ve seen their home values decline. And while government can’t fix the problem on its own, responsible homeowners shouldn’t have to sit and wait for the housing market to hit bottom to get some relief.
The program would cover both loans issued by government-controlled mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as well as private mortgage lenders. Officials estimate an average annual saving for homeowners of $3,000. Congress would have to approve it.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

5 Tips for Keeping Your Home Secure

Yahoo Real Estate has just posted these tips that are good common sense yet inexpensive. We've compressed them:

Lock Up!
Dead bolts are atill the best.

Know Your Neighbors
Give them your phone and email contact info.

Beware of Dog
Even if you don't have one, Those signs will make a potential intruder think twice.
To give a burglar another reason to go elsewhere, leave a large dog bowl by the front door with the name "Cujo" or "Killer."

Make Your Home Look Used When Vacationing
Cancel Papers and Mail.
Don't update your plans via Facebook or Twitter.

Go High Tech
You could always leave a radio on with a talk station blaring,
but now you can add a simple security camera run remotely with free apps.

Friday, January 20, 2012

USA Today Increasing Bullish on Real Estate

Home sales and home building are forecast to rise this year after sliding steeply the past five years in housing's worst downturn since the Great Depression.

Monday's USA Today notes that recovery is expected to be slow, and home prices are widely expected to fall this year. But investors are betting on the start of an upturn, bidding up home builder stocks and causing them to outperform the broader stock market.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Photographic Roots of the EPA

On the day that Kodak files for Chapter 11 Bankrupcy, it's interesting to see what was done to document the American environment, entirely with color and black & white negatives. over 40 years ago. For the Documerica Project (1971-1977), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hired freelance photographers to capture images relating to environmental problems, EPA activities, and everyday life in the 1970s. The National Archives digitized part of the series "Documerica". More than 15,000 of these slightly faded images are available in the Archival Research Catalog (ARC). Thousands more are also in the public domain via Flickr. (Photo at right By Danny Lyon: El Paso, 1971)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Freddie Mac Now Permits Grace Period for Unemployed Borrowers is reporting that mortgage finance firm Freddie Mac will give unemployed borrowers a break on their mortgage for up to one year.

Borrowers can be given up to a yearlong break from payments under the new policy. The forbearance is offered in two ways. First, starting on the first of February, mortgage servicers can allow borrowers to abstain from paying mortgages for as long as 6 months, getting Freddie Mac’s prior approval. After that, Freddie Mac can permit another six months.

"These expanded forbearance periods will provide families facing prolonged periods of unemployment with a greater measure of security by giving them more time to find new employment and resolve their delinquencies," said Tracy Mooney, senior vice president of single-family servicing and REO at Freddie Mac.

"We believe this will put more families back on track to successful long-term homeownership,” Mooney adds.

Freddie said the new deal expands the powers of mortgage servicers. The edict gives servicers the ability to forebear a mortgage for six months without prior approval. Freddie Mac can approve an additional six months after that.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Tough Decision: Which Jet to Take Out Today?

John Travolta is into planes enough that he had Florida change its laws in order to allow his favorite vehicle, a 747, to land beside his beautiful estate. Parking his planes isn’t a problem, as the grand runway leads directly to his home, with a convenient loading dock directly into the living area. Pretty dinky pool....

Saturday, January 14, 2012

A Well Balanced Home Life

It's one thing to balance your income with your housing needs, but this home designer took things a couple of steps further. This unusual four bedroom house designed by MVRDV and Mole Architects is balanced on the edge of a steep hill in Suffolk, England. Known as the “Balancing Barn”, this cool house features reflective stainless steel exterior and beautiful plywood interior. It even comes with a swing.

For anyone dealing with a life out of balance, we suggest

Friday, January 13, 2012

4 Tips to Determine How Much Mortgage You Can Afford

{EcoRealty has just added a new House Logic widget to the info column at right. Take a moment to browse the useful info for homeowners and homeowners to be}

By: G. M. Filisko

By knowing how much mortgage you can handle, you can ensure that home ownership will fit in your budget.
1. The general rule of mortgage affordability
As a rule of thumb, you can typically afford a home priced two to three times your gross income. If you earn $100,000, you can typically afford a home between $200,000 and $300,000.

To understand how that rule applies to your particular financial situation, prepare a family budget and list all the costs of homeownership, like property taxes, insurance, maintenance, utilities, and community association fees, if applicable, as well as costs specific to your family, such as day care costs.

2. Factor in your downpayment
How much money do you have for a downpayment? The higher your downpayment, the lower your monthly payments will be. If you put down at least 20% of the home's cost, you may not have to get private mortgage insurance, which costs hundreds each month. That leaves more money for your mortgage payment.

The lower your downpayment, the higher the loan amount you’ll need to qualify for and the higher your monthly mortgage payment.

3. Consider your overall debt
Lenders generally follow the 28/41 rule. Your monthly mortgage payments covering your home loan principal, interest, taxes, and insurance shouldn’t total more than 28% of your gross annual income. Your overall monthly payments for your mortgage plus all your other bills, like car loans, utilities, and credit cards, shouldn’t exceed 41% of your gross annual income.

Here’s how that works. If your gross annual income is $100,000, multiply by 28% and then divide by 12 months to arrive at a monthly mortgage payment of $2,333 or less. Next, check the total of all your monthly bills including your potential mortgage and make sure they don’t top 41%, or $3,416 in our example.

4. Use your rent as a mortgage guide
The tax benefits of homeownership generally allow you to afford a mortgage payment—including taxes and insurance—of about one-third more than your current rent payment without changing your lifestyle. So you can multiply your current rent by 1.33 to arrive at a rough estimate of a mortgage payment.

Here’s an example. If you currently pay $1,500 per month in rent, you should be able to comfortably afford a $2,000 monthly mortgage payment after factoring in the tax benefits of homeownership.

However, if you’re struggling to keep up with your rent, consider what amount would be comfortable and use that for the calcuation instead.

Also consider whether or not you’ll itemize your deductions. If you take the standard deduction, you can’t also deduct mortgage interest payments. Talking to a tax adviser, or using a tax software program to do a “what if” tax return, can help you see your tax situation more clearly.

G.M. Filisko is an attorney and award-winning writer who’s owned her own home for more than 20 years. A frequent contributor to many national publications including, REALTOR® Magazine, and the American Bar Association Journal, she specializes in real estate, business, personal finance, and legal topics.

Friday, January 06, 2012

High Water Mark for NJ Solar?

EnviroPolitics is a blogsite that offers a unique closeup on "Environmental and political news, issues and opinion for New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York and Delaware." In recent months they've written several articles on the growth of solar power in New Jersey.

For the last decade, solar power has become increasingly popular in NJ due largely to state financial incentives designed to encourage it's development.

New Jersey ranks second only to California in total installed solar capacity with over 9,000 solar projects having a capacity of more than 320 megawatts. With a much smaller land area, we have by far the most solar capacity per square mile of any state.

But their latest article warns of the prospects for the light dimming on NJ's solar future.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

What you Need to Know About Homeowners Insurance

Leonard Baron, CPA, and writer specializing in Real Estate issues, has just written an article for Zillow
that goes into great detail on the ins and outs of today's homeowner insurance policies.

"Having the proper type and amount of insurance in place is vital in today’s world. Pull out your policy and schedule a talk with your agent to discuss what you have and what you need."

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Price Turnaround in Multifamily Homes

Loopnet is a great resource for information about all kinds of commercial real estate -- including multi-family residential properties. While residential price drops are slowing in fits and starts in several NJ markets, LoopNet is reporting that the median sale price per unit for multifamily properties throughout NJ has been rising for three straight months. Encouraging news, but it may well be the flipside of the hard pressed single-family market i.e. the economy is forcing more folks to move into rentals that out of them,(Click on graphic to enlarge) You may need to register (it's free) to download more detailed data and charts.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

2011 - 2012: Fasten Your Seatbelts

See if you can match any of the headlines in our Blog Archive on the right with the thumbnails