The Washington, D.C., area was once again named the #1 area for traffic in the country — that’s #1 worst area, according to the Texas Transportation Institute’s 2012 Urban Mobility Report.
How does it slow thee? Let us count the ways:
D.C. is number one in…
- Delay Per Auto Commuter (67 hours/yr)
- Increase in average annual delay 1982 – 2012 (49 hours)
- Congestion Cost per Auto Commuter ($1,398/yr)
- Excess Fuel Wasted per Auto Commuter (32 gallons/yr)
- Least reliable travel freeway times
- Pounds of CO2 Per Auto Commuter (631)
But don’t despair. We’re ranked second in “Delay per non-peak traveler,” third for “Commuter Stress Index, and a distant fourth for “Total Travel Delay” and “Total Congestion Cost.”
It’s a case of an HOA overstepping its bounds, and trampling on the toes of the wrong homeowners. Or it’s the case of petty homeowners taking a minor squabble a bit too far. Either way, the end result is bankruptcy for a Fairfax HOA.
The Washington Post has the full story, “Fairfax homeowners group humbled by court battle with residents,” but here’s the gist:
A couple in Fairfax’s Olde Belhaven neighborhood — Sam and Maria Farran — put up a yard sign advertising the candidate of their choice during the 2008 election season. The sign was four inches wider than allowed by HOA rules.
Just in case you didn’t know this already, you heard it here first: Potential buyers of vacation homes are finding it hard to get loans for a number of reasons.
That’s the conclusion of a Wall Street Journal story, “Getting a vacation-home loan: no day at the beach.”
What’s the deal? Several things, actually. Prices could fall further in those markets, if the housing economy hasn’t stabilized. Appraisal comps might be hard to come by and make lenders skittish about the report. HOAs in those areas could be in financial trouble.
The Washington Post’s real estate section recently ran an article for consumers, “Get ready for the start of real estate season.” Essentially, it offers some suggestions for preparing your home to be sold.
There’s nothing particularly new or exciting, but that’s OK — this is the kind of article that gets run every year.
What caught my eye, though, was this bit:
Choose agents, contractors and other professionals carefully.
U.S homeownership policy only encourages a nation of borrowers, and that’s a bad thing. So argues Mark A. Calabria, writing for the ultra-conservative Cato Institute, in a piece called “The Long Run Decline in Actual Homeownership.”
As it typical with ultra-anything groups, Calabria’s analysis oversimplifies the issue, then argues against that over-simplified version.
Back in 2012, Virginia received about $66 million from the National Mortgage Settlement — the money paid by mortgage lenders for falsifying records, forging signatures, and otherwise ignoring the law so they could foreclose more quickly.
Now Lender Processing Services, which worked with lenders, was also caught breaking the law. As Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan told the Chicago Sun-Times:
LPS and its subsidiaries became a sort of document factory, literally rubber stamping thousands of foreclosures with no regard for fairness and accuracy in the process.
Every homeowner (we hope!) knows about the mortgage interest deduction, but there are other tax breaks for owning a home. Can you deduct discount points? Local property taxes? Home-office additions?
What’s the future of Fannie and Freddie? No one knows. The consensus seems to be that it should have a much smaller role in the secondary mortgage market, and possibly re-privatized. But the specifics… well, that’s anyone’s guess.
One of those guesses: US News & World Report’s Jason Gold argues that “Fannie and Freddie Aren’t Going Away Anytime Soon.”
There seems to be no hurry among policymakers to decide the fate of Fannie and Freddie, but it looks increasingly as if the GSEs are here to stay.
Some of his points:
“Follow the money” goes the rule — and that in mind, a lot of that money is going into the housing market. By investors, that is.
So explains the CNN article, “Big money betting big on housing“:
Hedge funds and private equity firms have been rushing in to buy up companies and assets in every part of the housing supply chain, including undeveloped land, homebuilders, foreclosed homes, and building parts manufacturers.
You know that neighbor with the perfect lawn, well-behaved pets, and a beautiful exterior? Yeah, forget about him. Look at the other neighbor — the one with that yappy Chihuahua, overgrown yard, and Justin Beiber blasting from the bedroom window.
Appraisers are warning that those kinds of neighbors can hurt — really hurt — a property’s value. And not in the abstract. On the appraisal itself.