Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity

Local Address: March 22, 2009 - March 28, 2009

What's Your American Dream?

An interesting question came up during a recent taping of NPR's "On Point" radio program that I thought I would share here. I was a guest along with Susan Wachter, a professor of real estate and financial management at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School, and June Fletcher, a real estate columnist for the Wall Street Journal. Among other things we talked about "The American Dream," and whether owning a home is a key part of it. Despite the losses of the past few years, I still believe that homes will once again become assets that significantly add to households' wealth. But that wealth will accumulate slowly, over decades, not at a double-digit annual rate like we saw (mirage though it was) during the boom. But is owning a home the American Dream? I said I thought that is more of a marketing concept pushed by the real estate industry,...

By Elizabeth Razzi  |  March 27, 2009; 6:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Poll , The market  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz  

Rent or Buy?

I've been hearing contradictory complaints from people in our bi-weekly Real Estate Live online chats. In roughly equal numbers, people ask why rents aren't going down given the surplus of unsold homes, while others complain that sale prices are too high compared with rents. So which is it? I did a little spot check on the market, searching for houses advertised for rent on WashingtonPost.com and then looking up asking prices for similar houses listed for sale. From this little experiment, it looks like rent isn't much of a bargain, at least in the close-in suburbs. In the Belle View section of Fairfax County, just south of Alexandria, I found a nice four-bedroom, two-bath rental house with an updated kitchen for $2,495 a month. Searching houses listed for sale on the multiple listing service, I found a similar place, also with four bedrooms and two baths, just half a...

By Elizabeth Razzi  |  March 26, 2009; 6:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  The market  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz  

New Tax Credit, New Windows

I have been meaning to replace a couple of 60-year-old rusted-shut basement windows for years, but other priorities always nudged the job lower on my to-do list. Now I'm thinking that it would be a shame not to take advantage of the 30 percent federal tax credit for energy-efficient windows and finally get that job done. Here's how the search for the right windows is going so far. The tax credit covers up to 30 percent of the window's cost (but not the installer's labor), up to $1,500. But they have to be super-efficient windows to qualify. The standards for the tax credit are higher even than the government's Energy Star rating. For the Washington area, where blocking summer sunshine is as important as reducing winter chills, we need windows with a "U-Factor" (for keeping cold out) of 0.40 or less, and a SHGC (short for solar heat gain coefficient)...

By Elizabeth Razzi  |  March 25, 2009; 6:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (13)
Categories:  Remodeling and repair  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz  

Layoff Worries vs. Buyer Incentives

Worries about layoffs and their tendency to drastically interfere with one's ability to make a monthly mortgage payment don't seem to be burdening first-time buyers as much as they weigh upon existing homeowners. About 18 percent of people who consider themselves first-time home buyers said they plan to make a purchase this year so they can take advantage of the new $8,000 tax credit, according to an early-March survey commissioned by Move Inc., the company that operates a listings Web site for the National Association of Realtors. Among all surveyed, first-timers and repeat customers alike, 5.8 percent said they planned to buy within one year; and another 13 percent said they planned to buy in the next two years. The survey revealed a world of worry, though, among current owners. A recent job loss in the household is causing 27 percent to fear they may default on their loan. Another...

By Elizabeth Razzi  |  March 24, 2009; 6:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Buying , Foreclosure , The market  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz  

The Market's Spring Thaw?

Based on the chatter I'm hearing and the results of this blog's latest, highly unscientific Weekend Poll there are a lot of people suddenly warming to the idea of launching a house hunt. Suze Orman even said on NBC's Today Show that she's starting to think it's now the right time for people to start looking at real estate. (The comments came at the end of a segment about stock investing. However, I think Orman is highly unrealistic in advising first-timers to wait until they have saved enough to make a 20 percent down payment. Most first-timers simply don't have that kind of dough.) Here's a bit of advice for people who find themselves warming to the idea of launching a house hunt: Don't be rushed. Low interest rates are probably going to be around a while, so there's no reason not to think through a deal carefully. Sell first,...

By Elizabeth Razzi  |  March 23, 2009; 6:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Buying  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz  

 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company