Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Record rebound in home equity gives owners new options

WASHINGTON — The biggest story in American real estate in 2013 hasn't gotten the attention it deserves, so let's shout this out: Homeowners' net equity holdings soared $2.2 trillion from the third quarter of 2012 to the third quarter of this year, according to new data collected by the Federal Reserve.
This is a record rebound for a 12-month period. And it's crucially important in personal financial terms for hundreds of thousands of owners who for years have been underwater on their mortgages, meaning their homes wouldn't sell for enough to pay off the loan.
They now have options they didn't have before: They can sell their homes and not have to bring money to the closing. They may be able to borrow against their equity to help pay for college tuition, home improvements and other purposes. They may be able to refinance their mortgages without having to use a government-aided program.
Home equity is the difference between the mortgage debt outstanding on a residence and the current market value of the home. If your house is worth $300,000 and you owe the bank $150,000 — whether from a single mortgage or multiple loans — you have $150,000 in equity. If your mortgage debt totals $350,000 on a $300,000 house, you have $50,000 in negative equity.
Equity generally grows in several ways: You lower your debt by making payments to your lender, the value of your house increases because market conditions improve, or you raise the home's sales value by remodeling or upgrading it.
Growing home equity not only signifies widespread recovery in household personal wealth, but also provides an important boost for the ongoing economic recovery. Consumers who have a cushion of equity in their homes are more likely to spend money on goods and services than those who don't. The latest Fed "flow of funds" calculations show that owners have now seen their equity stakes grow more than $3.2 trillion from the post-bust low point in the first quarter of 2011.
During the financial crisis of 2008-11, millions of American owners fell into negative equity positions as the sale value of their homes plummeted. With the recovery that took hold in 2012, values began to turn upward again — dramatically so in some of the hardest-hit areas where prices had fallen fastest.
A new study released by CoreLogic, an Irvine real estate and mortgage data firm, estimated that 791,000 homes moved from negative to positive equity status during the third quarter of this year alone, and more than 3 million have done so since the beginning of 2013. Though 6.4 million homeowners continue to be underwater on their mortgage debt — in 13% of all homes with a mortgage — that is down from 7.2 million (nearly 15%) as recently as the end of the second quarter of this year.
CoreLogic researchers found that among the states that experienced the most severe property devaluations during the bust and have recovered impressively, some continue to have persistent hangovers of negative equity. In Nevada, nearly a third of all homeowners are underwater, despite price gains. In Florida, nearly 29% are still in negative equity, and in Arizona it's nearly 23%.
In California, which suffered deep equity losses in non-coastal areas from 2007 to 2010, home values have roared back in the last two years. Now the state has just a 13% negative equity rate — significantly lower than Ohio (18%), Michigan and Illinois (both 17.7%), Rhode Island (16.6%) and Maryland (15.6%).
The states with the highest rates of homeowner equity are Texas and Alaska, where 96.1% of all owners with mortgages are in positive territory; Montana (95.8%); North Dakota (95.7%); and Wyoming (95.4%).
Other findings from the CoreLogic study:
•People with higher-priced homes are somewhat more likely to have positive equity than owners of lower-cost houses. Whereas 92% of all mortgaged homes in the country valued at more than $200,000 have positive equity, just 82% of homes valued at or below $200,000 do.
•Though homeowner equity wealth has increased rapidly in the last year, 10 million homeowners still have only modest equity stakes — less than 20% — and that puts them at risk should property values tumble again.
But another bust is nowhere in sight, thanks to tougher underwriting and regulatory oversight. So whether you're one of the recent arrivals to positive equity status, or you've enjoyed it all along, the new year looks encouraging.
Distributed by Washington Post Writers Group.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Wellington Square Wonder!!!

1908 S Buckingham Rd, Los Angeles, CA 90016

MLS #13-721789
5 bedrooms, 4.5 bathrooms
Offered at $949,000

Located in one of Historic West Adams most sought after areas...this Dutch Colonial has been re-done from top to bottom, and would be the perfect Christmas gift for you and your family! Flooded with light from the many mullioned casement windows, it features an expansive living room opening to a fabulous cook's kitchen that in turn opens to the dining room with french doors to a large deck. There is a roomy den or office, a powder room, and a maid's (or nanny's) room with bath. The second floor offers the master suite and 3 more bedrooms and two additional baths. This handsome home is approximately 3000 square feet on a big lot that is over 8600 sq ft.! The large backyard has a 2 car garage with a big patio room--perfect for a private office or kids playroom. Behind the garage, there's enough room for a pool! Do not miss this beauty--it's got it all!

Click the pic below to take the full photo tour!

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Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Slow & Steady Gains For October's Home Price Index

Home prices barely continued their slow and steady upward gains in October, according to Corelogic's Home Price Index Report. Including distressed sales, the national home price rose just 0.2% from September, though year-over-year growth still charted at 12.5%. This yearly gain marks the 20th straight month of national prices increases.

The month-on-month deceleration is no surprise, considering the traditional winter real estate slowdown and the recent rise in mortgage rates. California, long a stranger to winter weather patterns, still managed a whopping 22.4% price appreciation year-over-year!

Dr. Mark Fleming, chief economist for Corelogic, cites the upside to the slowdown, pointing out that it "is positive for the housing market as almost half the states are now within 10% of their respective historical peaks."

You know what they say about slow & steady...

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Tuesday, 3 December 2013

We're in the TOP TEN!!!

Our own Los Angeles is #6 on the list of towns leading the nation's housing recovery! Get in touch and let us help you contribute to the cause by finding your dream home!

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Millenials Will Come...

Some economists have recently sounded the alarm that a 'lost generation of homebuyers,' namely those born after 1980, are locked in permanent financial stagnation that will prevent the majority from ever forming households. This generation, coined 'millenials' by overzealous media marketeers, contends with crushing student loans, limited employment opportunities, rising rates, low inventory with rising prices and an ever-shrinking median wage income when compared to prior generations.

Not surprisingly, all the hype and hysteria are overblown. Though 31.6% of those 35 and under still live with their parents, homeownership in this demographic continues to grow, slowly. Joseph Snider, VP and senior credit officer at Moody's Investor's Service, acknowledges the troubling conditions, but rightly reminds us that every generation faces its own set of challenges. While the recent economic downturn seemed never-ending, and our climb out of the ditch is sluggish at best, there are sustained signs of real progress. These conditions are cyclical, not permanent.

Says Snider, "Just as shrinking home sizes eventually proved a cyclical rather than secular event that reversed when the downturn ended, the malaise affecting the world's strongest economy will not last forever. We believe millenials will follow every generation that preceded them, buying homes once their economic situation improves."

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

What Buyers Don't Want

Who knew an in-house elevator was NOT on the list of preferred features for 70% of buyers? More sensible concerns must be afoot...

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

August S&P/Case-Shiller Index: Rise Continues, Slowly

The S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices continued their rise in August at the fastest annual rate in more than six and a half years. However, the monthly pace continues its slow decline. The recent rise in mortgage rates has resulted in fewer mortgage applications, contributing to the smaller gains month-over-month. Average home prices across the spectrum are back to their mid-2004 levels, with both the 10 and 20-city composites recovering over 22% when compared to February-March 2012 numbers. Los Angeles prices are up 2.01% month-over-month (compared to 2.1% June-July) and a whopping 21.7% since last August.

Related article: “Home price gains ease in most large U.S. markets,” by Andrew Khouri, Los Angeles Times

Monday, 28 October 2013

10 Steps to Take to Ensure Halloween Safety

Halloween is almost here, and families and children will be coming out in droves for a much-anticipated night of trick-or-treating. With the masses of frenzied people and increased car traffic in the dark, safety considerations are of the utmost importance to keep the ones we love safe. Here is a list of important safety tips that can help you give your family a carefree night of fun and candy.
1. For young children, make sure you, an older child, or a trusted adult accompanies them while trick-or-treating. For older children, make sure they go out with a group of friends.
2. Teach your children that under no circumstances should they ever enter the home of a stranger to get candy or treats, unless an adult is with them and says it is all right.
3. If you are with a group, stay together! In the excitement and fast pace of house-hopping, it is easy to get separated from each other.
4. Teach your children that they should never approach the vehicle of a stranger, or an empty vehicle, unless they are directly accompanied by you or another trusted adult.
5. Equip your children with reflective clothing, a flashlight, or a glowstick to help make them visible to cars in the night.
6. Instruct them to stay only on well-lit paths, busy public areas, and main streets and sidewalks and to avoid isolated areas or alleys with little to no lighting.
7. Review basic street and traffic safety: Stop and look both ways before crossing a street or intersection. Obey crosswalk signs. Hold the hand of smaller children crossing with you.
8. If you have a teenager going out trick-or-treating with friends, make sure you know who he’ll be with and where he’ll be for the night.
9. Make sure all your trick-or-treaters are dressed in weather-appropriate clothing under or over their costumes, and that any masks or headpieces allow for easy breathing and ventilation. Check costumes over for any potential hazards.
10. Instruct your children to notify the closest adult if they notice any vandalism, bullying, or dangerous situation that occurs. Should someone try to abduct them, instruct them to yell loudly that they are being taken against their will, and kick, scream, and struggle as much as possible with as much noise as possible.
Have a safe and fun Halloween!
Tiffany Martel is the founder and editor of Go Momma Coupons, a blog with money-saving tips, deals and discounts.

Monday, 16 September 2013

1351 N Orange Dr, Hollywood 90028

Offered at $264,000

1 bedroom + 1 bath

Cute condo with lovely and secure front entry foyer in the heart of everything! One bedroom sweetie is ideal home in great location or pied-à-terre, with low HOA! Minutes away from all things Hollywood! Newer dishwasher, newer high-end heat and air, newer garbage disposal, brand new refrigerator! Security building with gated parking space.

Click the image below for the full photo tour!

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2186 Century Hill, Century City 90067

Offered at $960,000

2186 Century Hill is a prime location within a prime Century City address; away from the street--a view of gardens and mountains. This charming luxury condo is one of the few single level units available in this gated 20 acre park-like complex. It affords security/controlled access and valet parking, tennis courts, gym, racquetball court, sauna, club house, and 5 swimming pools! 

This second floor unit offers 2 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, and a balcony overlooking lush vistas. Enter thru the foyer to spacious living room and dining room, as well as a breakfast area with wet bar adjoining a roomy kitchen with lots of cabinet space. The hallway leads to powder room, laundry room, bedroom with en suite bath, and a generous sized main suite with large bath and walk-in closet/dressing room. All open to the large balcony. Hardwood floors, high ceilings, and a fireplace create a wonderful ambiance to this beauty!

Click the image below for the full photo tour!

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Thursday, 15 August 2013

Why Buying Beats Renting

You've probably noticed that rent rates have been increasing. We found this infographic that describes some benefits of why it makes sense to buy instead of rent, from the benefits of home ownership to frequent misconceptions of the buying process. 

Check it out here: http://www.lgihomes.com/renting_vs_buying.cfm

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Los Angeles Home Prices Continue to Rise

Data released by S&P Case-Shiller indices indicate that in the Los Angeles area, prices are still on the rise.

Increases for Los Angeles are 2.58% which is somewhat higher than the 20-city or 10-city national composite of 2.45% and 2.48%, respectively.

S&P Case Shiller index ending June 30, 2013 Click on image to visit the Case Shilling site
                      S&P Case Shiller index ending June 30, 2013
                      Click on image to visit the Case Shiller site
Interestingly enough, there are two opposing pressures on the housing market:
  • The rise in interest on mortgages puts downward pressure on buyers.  Their buying power decreases as the interest rate goes up.
  • The decrease in defaults and foreclosures means a decreasing inventory of property on the market, exerting an upward pressure on housing prices.
The Case-Shiller index measures prices across the nation in 20 cities.  The trends across the country are showing different results.  Many cities. like Los Angeles, that were hardest hit with the price decreases in the downturn, show the fastest price growth.


Saturday, 3 August 2013

Eastern Columbia Bldg, 849 S Broadway Ste #704 90014

OFFERED AT $785,000
MLS #13-690499
1 bdrm, 2 bath, 1610 sq.ft.

Corner unit in the most BEAUTIFUL bldg in Los Angeles! Light filled, lots of windows, in hip and happening bldg that offers wine club, book club, gardening club--and views of the Orpheum! Mills Act gives tax break! Spacious unit on front corner--down the street from the new Ace Hotel-- rooftop pool with views forever, fitness center, secured parking--what's not to like? A once in a lifetime opportunity!

Click below for the full photo tour!

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Lease Listing: 6509 Hayes Dr 90048

6509 Hayes Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90048
OFFERED AT $2,100/mo
2 bd, 1 ba, 1120 sq.ft., 7500 lot sz

SWEEEEET! Adorable side by side character duplex 2+1 (West side 6509) in Carthay HPOZ. Wonderful location, spacious living room w/ decorative fireplace, dining area, & eat-in kitchen. Hardwood & carpet, French doors to Topanga style back garden, laundry fac., street parking. Perfect for someone who loves peace and quiet...and at a great price!

Click below for the full photo tour!

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Thursday, 18 July 2013

It's the Time of the Season for Buying

You've heard the news. You've read all the opinion polls, waiting for the perfect time to jump into the market and buy your first home...your second home...your dream home. You scan Zillow, Redfin, Trulia & Realtor.com daily, filling every weekend with open houses in your desired neighborhoods.

But fears of market volatility and uncertain futures may be hindering your search, preventing you from taking the next step. Considering our economy's last 5 years, no one would blame you. The question, though, is when?

When will you know the time is right? With the endless barrage of available information, pro & con, positive & negative, red & blue; how do you cut through the noise, make an informed decision and step toward your goals for homeownership?

That next step is finding an informed and trusted professional to help your search along.

Though mortgage rates have risen over the past weeks, they are still quite low by historic standards, and buying remains cheaper than renting as long as rates are below 10.5%. At 4.26%, the current 30-year fixed rate according to Market Watch, buying is now 45% cheaper than renting. Even at 5%, buying is still 34% cheaper, and there's no indication of a drastic increase approaching.

Instead, we're seeing inventory beginning to swell after last year's drought, with sellers enticed by the promise of higher returns and dwindling negative equity. Hopefully this will bring some regulation to the spike in prices since last year (28% year-over-year in June), though prices will continue to rise steadily...

...which makes NOW the perfect time to enter, or re-enter, a market that is gaining steam but remains affordable to first-time buyers. Lock in your low rate, find your right home in our expanding pool of inventory, and invest in your dreams for homeownership!

The first step is just a phone call (or email, or text, or tweet) away...









Thursday, 30 May 2013

Home Prices See Strong Gains in Q1

Data through March 2013, released May 28th by S&P Dow Jones Indices for its S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, showed that all three composites posted double-digit annual increases. The 10-City and 20-City Composites increased 10.3 percent and 10.9 percent, respectively, with the national composite rising by 10.2 percent in the last four quarters. All 20 cities posted positive year-over-year growth.

In the first quarter of 2013, the national composite increased 1.2 percent. On a monthly basis, the 10- and 20-City Composites both posted increases of 1.4 percent. Charlotte, Los Angeles, Portland, Seattle, and Tampa were the five MSAs to record their largest month-over-month gains in more than seven years.

Check out the S&P/Case-Shiller Los Angeles Home Price Index here!

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Natalie's Newest Yelp Review!

Thanks for the great review, Helen!

"Natalie helped me buy my house 2 months ago. She knows this neighborhood really well, and seems to have sold most of the houses here at one time or another. She wrote a bazillion offers, with not a single complaint, and was not afraid to advise against certain properties, which saved me some big headaches!

She has tons of energy and is very straightforward and honest. I've recommended her to two friends already."

Click the Yelp button below to visit Natalie's business page for more rave reviews!

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

2239 W 24th St, Los Angeles, CA 90018

OFFERED at $999,000, 5 bd, 5 ba, 4200 sq.ft.

REMARKS:  The one we’ve been waiting for! Spectacular Southern Colonial all gussied up ready to make her debut! Done to the nines!–From the welcoming foyer with its dramatic staircase to spacious living room with handsome brick fireplace–opens to dramatic dining room that in turn opens to sun room with entertaining bar area…powder room & study with aqua glazed tile fireplace next to cooks kitchen perfect for entertaining, and expansive deck overlooking grassy backyard and garage and patio room. Second floor features 4 bedrooms, 3 baths,including the master suite with gorgeous master tile bath including claw foot tub, separate shower, as well as the large light filled den/sleeping porch. The third floor offers a huge open fifth bedroom and another bath. plus access to the portico balcony and the upper level back rooftop deck, with views of the Hollywood sign. Located in West Adams Terrace HPOZ, this Vintage charmer offers today’s amenities with the gracious charm of yesteryear!

DIRECTIONS:  South of Santa Monica Fwy, East of Arlington, west of Gramercy Place

Follow this link to visit the property website and click below for the photo tour!

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Tuesday, 16 April 2013

1585 Park Grove Ave 90007

Loft alternative!!! Close to DTLA & USC--and near major freeways--so conveniently located! This Adorable Victorian Cottage circa 1896 will steal your heart! Corner lot with fenced yard and wrap around Veranda--the ideal place to sit a spell after a days work downtown--(also in the USC incentive zone--Faculty and Staff take note!) Double parlours, spacious foyer, 3 BR--2 sans closets, Formal Dining, updated kitchen and bath, new floors.

OFFERED AT $550,000

MLS#:  13-661993
APX SF: 1,663/VN
APX LSZ: 4,488/VN
Click below for the photo tour!

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Monday, 8 April 2013

Guest Blogpost: Breaking Down the Shadow Inventory

By Sarah Parr
Recent statistics portray a positive picture for the real estate industry and consumer economy. A recent Corelogic report shows that the shadow inventory of homes has decreased 28 percent from when it peaked in 2010. As of early this year, the shadow inventory comprises approximately 2.2 million housing units, or in real estate terms, nine months of supply. CoreLogic calculated the number of very delinquent homes, properties in foreclosure and homes held as REOs (real estate-owned) by mortgage servicers, but are not yet listed on multiple listing services (MLS) to determine the shadow inventory figure.
The shadow inventory
The shadow inventory can refer to all of the homes held by banks, but not offered for sale, and homes that people are waiting to put on the market because they are expecting better prices in the future. The shadow inventory also consists of vacant “zombie foreclosures.” A lot of homeowners anticipate foreclosure and then move out of their house, leaving it vacant for a period of time while the mortgage lender contemplates foreclosure.
How it’s created
RealtyTRAC states that the finalization of the National Mortgage Settlement in April 2012 contributed to the growth of the shadow inventory because of a 59 percent spike in properties in some stage of foreclosure. Under the settlement, banks and lenders have been obliged to work with homeowners on loan modifications, preventing foreclosure and keeping these homes off the market. The states in which the shadow inventory grew are mostly judicial process states, and as Pine Hills, FL foreclosure lawyers will tell you, they are more prone to having a buildup of lengthy foreclosure cases in their courts.
Its impact on real estate
Experts in the real estate field initially feared properties in the shadow inventory would be listed simultaneously, leading to a decrease in property values in certain communities. According to Reuters, though, properties in the shadow inventory have been listed in small batches, and the low inventory has actually caused an increase in prices in some areas. Investment firms have also helped diminish potential flooding of the market by purchasing some of the shadow inventory, according to a TIME article. Investors buy out distressed real estate when it first hits the market. They often beat individual buyers with cash offers, sometimes before properties are listed.
Even so, a shadow inventory can create uncertainty both for homeowners looking to sell and for predicting when a specific local housing market can expect full recovery. The shadow inventory can also skew housing inventory data.

Sarah Parr is a Central Florida-based writer who blogs about foreclosure issues.

Shadow Inventory down 28% from '10

Monday, 25 March 2013

2200 S Hobart, Los Angeles, CA 90018

Check out this adorable French Normandy-esque home from the 1930's...a garden enclave in the midst of the bustling city just minutes from Downtown! 
3 bd, 2 ba, 2649 sq.ft. on a huge 12,000+ sq.ft. lot...offered at only $590,000!!!

DIRECTIONS: East of Western, South of Santa Monica Fwy--take Hobart north from Adams

REMARKS: 3 BR + den & library or 4 BR & library. Fully fenced with a huge lot full of fruit trees, and lovely pergola covered with grapevines for outdoor entertaining. Entry hall flanked by spacious living room with fireplace and on the opposite side the formal dining room opens to a fully tiled kitchen--light and bright with newly finished wood floors. First floor also offers a large den (or 5th BR), a bath, utility room, and a very cute breakfast room. 4 BR & another bath are found upstairs--including the ample master with dressing area.

Broker's Open House tomorrow, March 26th, 12-3pm.

Click below for the full photo tour...

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Tuesday, 19 March 2013

LA Market Turns Over 50% of Listed Homes in 2 Weeks or Less!

Real estate super-site Redfin reports that more than one-third of listed homes were sold within two weeks or less last month, with an average of 34% of homes under contract within 14 days of debuting on the market.  This marks an increase of 3.7% from January and highlights numerous California metros with even higher shares of homes taken off the market within two weeks of listing.  San Jose tops the list with a stunning 63.1% two-week turnover rate, while we in LA posted an impressive 51.3%!

Homeowners are 'springing' into action all over the country, and we need more inventory in all of our major California markets, where year-over-year inventory declines average 48%.  If you've been thinking of selling but hesitate to start the long and arduous process...FEAR NOT!!!  There's a good chance it will only take two weeks!


More than One-Third of Listed Homes Sold Within 2 Weeks: Redfin


Homeowners 'Springing' into Action, According to Report


Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Lease Listing in a Park!

Live in a park! Darling first floor unit on Rodeo side in Park Hills Heights with gorgeous views of the green! Parquet wood floors, new paint, stove, refrigerator and dishwasher included! Updated tile counters, floors and walled private patio. This Culver City adjacent complex is one of LA's hidden treasures!

1 bedroom, 1 bath, 811 sq. ft., offered at $1550/mo.

Click the Zingding below to take the photo tour!

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Monday, 18 February 2013



North University Park Fabulous historic Craftsman on spacious lot with bonuses galore!

LA Historic Cultural Monument #820. Contributor to National Register district; regulated by North University Park Specific Plan; zoned RD1.5.

This rare gem offers stunning architectural detail created by noted architect John C. Austin. Massive corbels, gables, and bays are just some of the handsome features of the exterior, and the interior gets even better! Foyer, flanked by an expansive living room, & a step-up library, and a light-filled formal dining room with French doors to a patio, maids room & bath, butlers pantry, 2 huge fireplaces and much more! 2nd floor 3 BR, + office, and third floor artist’s atelier–with living space!

11,000+ lot has guest quarters and outdoor dining facilities and many amenities–wine cellar, etc. this is a MUST SEE! Ideal for entertaining, Very close to campus–faculty/staff–USC incentive zone!


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Tuesday, 29 January 2013

826 S Burlington - The Masserly Residence - Video

Natalie takes you on a tour of the historic Masserly Residence at 826 S Burlington Ave, recently on the market at only $698,000 and open Tuesday, January 29th from 12-3pm!  This fabulous 1899 Queen Anne Victorian mansion was designed by legendary architect John C Austin, the creative mind behind Shrine Auditorium, LA's City Hall & Griffith Park Observatory.

Located in the Westlake Historic District (Bonnie Brae Tract), this slice of LA history has been owned by the same family since 1944. Downstairs boasts formal rooms, public areas, some original light fixtures & pocket doors. 8 bedrooms plus 3 apts (possibly not permitted)...3 floors of gorgeous architectural detail...Seller has applied for monument status!

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Fiscal Cliff Controversy Favors Housing Recovery

Despite the controversy over 'fiscal cliff' negotiations involving increased taxation versus spending cuts (an argument sure to linger on for the foreseeable future), Congress did make some important and forward-thinking decisions which should positively affect the housing market and further stabilize the recovery.

Among these decisions are the renewal of two major tax provisions: the mortgage interest deduction and the Mortgage Debt Relief Act, both extended for another year.

Signed in 2007, the Mortgage Debt Relief Act ensured that debt incurred on loan modifications, short sales, and foreclosures was no longer taxable and was set to expire at the end of 2012.  If not extended, many feared that home owners would not agree to short sales or principal reduction loan modifications when faced with tax bills based on banks' forgiven debts.  This would have led to increased foreclosure starts and overall market instability.  Thankfully, Congress avoided these pitfalls and reaffirmed policies that will help lower the number of foreclosures and support the slow rise in home prices we saw developing over the last months of 2012.

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