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Local Address: March 29, 2009 - April 4, 2009

Winning Renovations and the Weekend Poll

Yes there was remodeling going on in the Washington area during the housing bust. Area remodelers and architects just won Contractor of the Year awards from the National Association of the Remodeling Industry. Here's a peek at two local winners, plus The Weekend Poll: What's the right time for your next remodel or repair?

By Elizabeth Razzi  |  April 3, 2009; 6:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Poll , Remodeling and repair  | Tags: architects, design, design/build, poll, porch, remodel, remodeling  
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Formerly Homeless Give Back in Woodbridge

Here's the latest from DHN, the Department of Hopeful News: At the Hilda M. Barg Homeless Prevention Center in Woodbridge, those who have been helped often return as volunteers in the AfterShare program. The 30-bed shelter, where half the occupants are children, is operated by Volunteers of America, Chesapeake. Former residents help distribute donated food, clothing and toiletries. They also do outreach to unsheltered homeless, some of whom live in makeshift camps in the woods of Prince William County. Those visits to homeless camps raise a need for a donation I never would have anticipated: bug-repellent spray. Gayle Sanders, director of the center, said she can barely stand visiting some of the camps because of swarming mosquitoes. Among the other non-cash donations they can use are sunscreen, child-friendly bug repellent, over-the-counter medicines, hair-care supplies (particularly those designed for African-American hair), feminine-care products, baby food, diapers and children's underwear. Cash donations...

By Elizabeth Razzi  |  April 2, 2009; 6:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Tags: good housing news, good news, good real estate news, hopeful news  
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Why Ask an Ex-Con for Mortgage Help?

Did you hear the one about the convicted felon who's now in the mortgage-modification business?

By Elizabeth Razzi  |  April 1, 2009; 6:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Foreclosure , Mortgages  | Tags: ex-con mortgages, foreclosure, loan modification, mortgage, mortgage modification  
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Sales Calls and Refinancing

Refinancers, you're a hot commodity. Your loan application could trigger unsolicited sales pitches -- with requests for sensitive information - -from businesses you've never heard of. A colleague at The Post just told me about the unsettling phone call she received last week, a day after applying for a mortgage refinance with her current lender, Citibank. She and her husband have lots of equity and good credit, so she didn't anticipate any problems qualifying. Out of the blue, she received a phone call from someone who said he worked for Foundation Financial Group, a mortgage banker with headquarters in Atlanta and Jacksonville, Fla. He told her that her file had been "flagged," and that he needed her financial information to determine if the refinance was in her best interest. She wasn't sure about the purpose of his call, but she was absolutely certain she wasn't going to divulge any of...

By Elizabeth Razzi  |  March 31, 2009; 6:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Mortgages  
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Talking Dirt at Dinnertime

It's impossible to explain how a dinner conversation with friends could meander all the way to the topic of central vacuum cleaners, but that's what happened at my house this weekend. Opinions ranged from "why bother" to "I want one" before we moved on to other equally weighty topics. Central vac systems are usually installed when a house is being built, and they're most common in luxury homes. A National Association of Home Builders survey showed that builders put them in 30 percent of luxury homes built in 2006, and in almost 20 percent of all move-up homes. They can add $2,000 or more to the price. Components alone, without installation, can cost almost $1,000 from Home Depot. And routing the vacuum hoses through the walls of an existing house can be terribly impractical. But central vacs are being pushed by advocates of the green building movement because they say...

By Elizabeth Razzi  |  March 30, 2009; 6:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Home features  
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