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  • US home price gains slow in June

    Updated: Tue, Aug 26, 2014

    WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. home prices increased at a slower pace in June — a cooldown that could continue for several more months. The Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index rose 8.1 percent in June from 12 months earlier, according to a Tuesday report. That's down from 9.4 percent a month earlier and the smallest annual gain since December 2012. Yearly price growth weakened in all 20 cities. Home values in Cleveland nudged up just 0.8 percent. Las Vegas led with a 15.2 percent gain. But prices in Las Vegas, Phoenix, Miami and Tampa, Florida, are still at least 33 percent below their housing bubble peaks of almost a decade ago. The deceleration should help ease some of the price pressures on would-be b

  • Sales of US new homes fall in July

    Updated: Mon, Aug 25, 2014

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Fewer Americans bought new homes in July, evidence that the housing sector is struggling to gain traction more than five years into the economic recovery. The Commerce Department said Monday that new-home sales fell 2.4 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 412,000. The report also revised up the June sales rate to 422,000 from 406,000. New-home sales plunged 30.8 percent in the Northeast, followed by smaller drop-offs in the Midwest and West. Purchases were up 8.1 percent in the South, a region that usually accounts for more than half of all new-home sales. Inventory of new homes on the market rose to six months, a level last reached in October 2011. The median price of a new ho

  • US housing recovery appears to be back on track

    Updated: Thu, Aug 21, 2014

    WASHINGTON (AP) — A fourth straight monthly increase in sales of existing homes provided the latest evidence Thursday that the U.S. housing market is rebounding from a weak start to the year. Housing has been a drag on an otherwise strengthening economy, in part because a harsh winter delayed many sales. But Americans are stepping up purchases as more homes have been put up for sale. And low mortgage rates and moderating price gains have made homes more affordable. "The momentum is in the right direction," said Andrew Labelle, an economist at TD Bank who noted that the past four months have marked the fastest four-month sales gain since 2011.

  • Is a home equity line of credit a fit for you?

    Updated: Wed, Aug 20, 2014

    Rising home values and low interest rates are a powerful combination for homeowners looking for more financial breathing room. The trend, fueled by the two-year housing recovery, has helped spur many borrowers to take out a home equity line of credit against the value of their home. Such a loan, also known as a "HELOC," can give borrowers more financial flexibility and typically at a lower interest rate than a credit card. But HELOCs can also pose risks, should interest rates rise sharply or home values plummet. When the housing market crashed in late 2007 it wiped out the equity many borrowers had in their home, prompting lenders to slash their available credit.

  • Asia stocks make slight gains, await Yellen speech

    Updated: Tue, Aug 19, 2014

    TOKYO (AP) — Asian stock markets got a slight boost Wednesday from positive U.S. economic figures that reinforced expectations of eventual Fed rate hikes and a stronger dollar. KEEPING SCORE: Hong Kong's Hang Seng was up 0.1 percent at 25,154.62 while Japan's Nikkei 225 was little changed at 15,441.70. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 was also flat while Southeast Asian markets advanced. Taiwan's Taiex rose 0.4 percent to 9,278.81 while Seoul's Kospi shed 0.1 percent to 2,068.73. US OUTLOOK: Signs that inflation is in control in the U.S., as well as fairly positive earnings reports and other indicators of a healthy economy, are helping Asian shares. Recent data on housing has reassured regional markets that the U.S. growth is on a r

  • US home construction jumps 15.7 percent in July

    Updated: Tue, Aug 19, 2014

    WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. home construction rebounded in July, rising to an eight-month high and offering hope that housing has regained momentum after two months of declines. Construction increased 15.7 percent in July to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.09 million homes, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday. That was the fastest pace since November and followed declines of 4 percent in June and 7.4 percent in May. Applications for building permits, considered a good sign of future activity, also showed strength in July, advancing 8.1 percent to an annual rate of 1.05 million, after declines of 3.1 percent in June and 5.1 percent in May. The July rebound reflected strength in single-family home construction, w

  • Haves, have-nots divided by apartment poor doors

    Updated: Mon, Aug 18, 2014

    NEW YORK (AP) — One new Manhattan skyscraper will greet residents of pricey condos with a lobby in front, while renters of affordable apartments that got the developer government incentives must use a separate side entrance — a so-called poor door. In another apartment house, rent-regulated residents can't even pay to use a new gym that's free to their market-rate neighbors. Other buildings have added playrooms and roof decks off-limits to rent-stabilized tenants. New York is a city where the rich and relatively poor have long lived side by side, with who pays what often a closely held, widely varying secret.

  • US homebuilder confidence rises in August

    Updated: Mon, Aug 18, 2014

    U.S. homebuilders are feeling more confident in their sales prospects headed into next year, a sign that home construction and sales of newly built homes may pick up after stalling this summer. The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo builder sentiment index rose this month to 55, up two points from a revised reading of 53 in July. The latest reading is the highest since January, when it was 56. Readings above 50 indicate more builders view sales conditions as good, rather than poor. Sales of new homes are running behind last year's pace. But builders' view of current sales conditions for single-family homes, their outlook for sales over the next six months and traffic by prospective buyers each

  • California home sales plunge in pricey market

    Updated: Thu, Aug 14, 2014

    SAN DIEGO (AP) — A real estate research firm says California home sales plunged in July compared to the same time last year as buyers struggled to find something they could afford in the tight market. CoreLogic DataQuick said Thursday that about 40,000 new and resale houses and condos sold statewide in July. That's down 8.7 percent from July 2013. The firm says a total of about 8,500 new and resale houses and condos sold last month In the nine-county San Francisco Bay area. That's down 9.3 percent from about 9,400 in July last year. The firm says about 20,000 new and resale houses and condos in the six-county Southern California region last month sold, marking a 12.4 percent drop from July 2013.

  • Feds charge 5 with bank fraud in Iowa home sales

    Updated: Mon, Aug 11, 2014

    IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — A Des Moines attorney and four area businessmen deceived banks into selling homes to them at below market rates, then immediately resold the properties for profit without the lenders' knowledge, federal prosecutors say. Attorney Jason Springer, business partners Nathan Smith and Patrick Steven, real estate agent Rick Makohoniuk and mortgage broker Jerod Hogan are charged with bank fraud in an indictment unsealed last week. Four of the defendants are scheduled to make initial court appearances Friday in Des Moines, while Smith is set to plead guilty Aug. 28, court records indicate. The 11-page indictment outlines an alleged scheme that involved the sales of 19 Des Moines-area homes between 2009 and 201

  • Fannie, Freddie post profits in 2Q; pay dividends

    Updated: Thu, Aug 7, 2014

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Government-controlled mortgage companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac posted profits for the April-June period as the U.S. housing market continued to recover. Gains in recent years have enabled them to fully repay their government aid after being rescued during the financial crisis in 2008. Fannie Mae reported Thursday that it earned $3.7 billion in the second quarter. Washington-based Fannie will pay a dividend of $3.7 billion to the U.S. Treasury next month. With its previous payments totaling $126.7 billion, Fannie has more than fully repaid the $116 billion it received from taxpayers. Freddie Mac posted net income of $1.4 billion for the latest quarter. Freddie, based in McLean, Virginia, will pay a div

  • Barbara Corcoran on her 2nd life with 'Shark Tank'

    Updated: Wed, Aug 6, 2014

    NEW YORK (AP) — Barbara Corcoran expects entrepreneurs to listen to what she says, and then do what they want. Even when they're using her money to build their companies. Corcoran, now one of the investors on the ABC program "Shark Tank," made her name running New York real estate brokerage Corcoran Group. Over nearly 30 years, she took chances, made some mistakes — and learned how to take risks. She often asked for advice, then grew to trust her own instincts and do what she thought was best. Now Corcoran expects her "Shark Tank" entrepreneurs, including the owners of food truck operator Cousins Maine Lobster and baker Daisy Cake, to do the same. "My worst entrepreneurs listen to everything I say and do it that way

  • A look at Barbara Corcoran, 'Shark Tank' investor

    Updated: Wed, Aug 6, 2014

    Barbara Corcoran, "Shark Tank" investor AGE: 65 HOMETOWN: Edgewater, New Jersey          LIVES IN: Manhattan EDUCATION: Thomas Aquinas College CAREER: Founder of New York real estate brokerage The Corcoran Group and Barbara Corcoran Inc., the company that sets up her media and TV appearances, including "Shark Tank" FAMILY: Husband Bill, children Tom and Kate HOBBIES: Skiing, going to the beach LAST BOOK READ: Reread "Wuthering Heights," by Emily Bronte; "it was as delicious as I remembered it." FAVORITE QUOTE: When she consulted a large developer about a complex problem, he told her, "You're a smart girl. You'll figure it out." Now, Corcoran says, "I use it on myself and on

  • Improving housing market luring would-be brokers

    Updated: Tue, Aug 5, 2014

    MIAMI (AP) — The number of U.S. real estate agents is increasing as the housing market recovers from the Great Recession. Applications for new real estate licenses doubled in Florida and California last year. Even hard-hit Nevada has seen the number of people seeking licenses grow by almost a quarter. And the National Association of Realtors says its membership grew slightly last year after six straight years of declines. Experts warn that real estate is a tough profession and that many new agents quit before they sell a single house.

  • Home sales post strong rise in June as prices fall

    Updated: Tue, Aug 5, 2014

    HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Home sales in Connecticut jumped in June, but at reduced selling prices, a real estate research group said Tuesday. The Warren Group said 2,799 single-family homes were sold in June, up nearly 6 percent since June 2013. The Boston group says the increase was the best since last August when 2,897 homes were sold. The housing market in Connecticut is showing signs of improvement, said Timothy M. Warren Jr., chief executive of The Warren Group. Real estate closings in June, July and August are typically the highest of the year as deals made during the spring selling season are officially recorded, he said. "While not robust, the Connecticut real estate market continues to show a solid recovery," Wa

  • Construction spending falls 1.8 percent in June

    Updated: Fri, Aug 1, 2014

    WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. construction spending fell in June by the largest amount in more than three years as housing, non-residential construction and government spending all weakened. The Commerce Department says construction spending dropped 1.8 percent in June on a seasonally adjusted basis after rising by a revised 0.8 percent in May. It was the biggest setback since a 2.8 percent fall in January 2011. The weakness was widespread with spending on housing down for a second straight month, falling 0.3 percent, while non-residential building activity fell 1.6 percent, the biggest decrease since January. Spending on government projects dropped 4 percent, the biggest decline in more than a decade.

  • In San Francisco real estate, $1M won't buy much

    Updated: Thu, Jul 31, 2014

    SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — San Francisco Association of Realtors President Betty Taisch has two words of advice for those who want to live here and think $1 million will buy them their dream house: Think again. In the souped-up world of San Francisco real estate, where the median selling price for houses and condominiums last month hit seven figures for the first time, the cool million that would fetch a mansion on a few acres elsewhere will now barely cover the cost of an 800-square foot starter home that needs work and may or may not include private parking.

  • Home owned by Trump holdout sells at auction

    Updated: Thu, Jul 31, 2014

    An Atlantic City-area real estate figure has bought at auction a property that earned its owner near-folk hero status for resisting decades of overtures from developers including Donald Trump. Joshua Olshin of AuctionAdvisors says Vera Coking's modest three-story boardinghouse sold Thursday afternoon for $530,000 plus 10 percent commission. Olshin says that bidding was active and that the winner wishes to remain anonymous. Coking is 86 and has moved to California to be near family. She rebuffed repeated offers from Trump and an attempted state takeover of her property. Trump said earlier this week he had once offered Coking millions of dollars and housing for life if she would sell.

  • Asian markets drift after US Fed stays course

    Updated: Wed, Jul 30, 2014

    MUMBAI, India (AP) — Asian stock markets were uninspired by an upbeat report on the U.S. economy, with most drifting lower Thursday after the U.S. Federal Reserve said it would make further cuts to its monetary stimulus as expected. KEEPING SCORE: The Hang Seng in Hong Kong slipped 0.1 percent to 24,695.71 while Tokyo's Nikkei was up 0.4 percent to 15,711.94. South Korea's Kospi shed 0.3 percent to 2,076.14 and China's Shanghai Composite was nearly flat at 2,283.72. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 edged up 0.2 percent to 5,632.20 and India's Sensex was flat at 25,076.01. SORRY SAMSUNG: Shares of South Korean consumer electronics kingpin Samsung dived 4 percent after it reported a bigger-than-expected fall in second quarter profit o

  • Home prices rise, sales down slightly in June

    Updated: Tue, Jul 29, 2014

    BOSTON (AP) — A real estate group says prices for single-family homes rose again last month in Massachusetts even as sales fell off slightly compared to a year ago. The Massachusetts Association of Realtors reported Tuesday that the median price for a single-family home was $365,000 in June, compared to $351,000 in June 2013, a 4 percent increase. The median price for a condominium rose 3 percent to hit a record high of $330,000 last month. The organization said sales in June were down about 1 percent. But a separate report Tuesday, from the Warren Group, a Boston-based publisher of business data, reported a modest rise in single-family home sales in June compared to the same month a year ago.