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Real Estate and Home

My New 401(k) Fund Option: Real Estate

by Luke Landes

I received a notice this weekend from my employer advising that a new investment option will be available within my 401(k). Here’s what the pamphlet had to say about the new fund: The Fund will invest primarily in existing private real estate funds, publicly traded real estate securities, including REIT (Real Estate Investment Trust) securities, ... Continue reading this article…

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What $300,000 Will Buy You In My Town

by Luke Landes

JLP from AllThingsFinancial unknowingly started a meme observing what $300,000 or so can buy in various locations around the country. Here’s what $285,000 will buy you in my town. It’s a 3 bedroom, 1.5 bath townhouse condo, built in 1986. The house includes a living room, dining room, and kitchen, and central air conditioning. The ... Continue reading this article…

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Your House: Asset or Liability?

by Luke Landes

Gurus like David Bach and Robert Kiyosaki profess the best way to get rich is real estate (while their net worth continues to increase through the sale of books and seminars). But what good is increased equity in the house if the only way you can use that money is to sell the house (downsize) ... Continue reading this article…

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The Latest Buzz, Part 2: Zillow

by Luke Landes

Here’s another item that’s been making the rounds lately. There’s a new tool on the internet called Zillow. It’s still in “beta,” but I definitely like the looks of it. This tools allows you to get the tax-assessed value — or if more information is available, a “Zestimate” — for a house at any address. ... Continue reading this article…

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Giving Incentives Away With The House

by Luke Landes

In order to keep from lowering their asking price, home sellers are adding extra incentives to draw attention to their houses. To attract buyers, sellers are offering cars, European trips, landscaping for a year, and even 42″ plasma televisions at no extra cost. It sounds to me like it’s getting tough to move houses by ... Continue reading this article…

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Home Prices More Overvalued

by Luke Landes

Local Market Monitor is a research firm in the real-estate sector, and they’ve produced a report about the overvaluation trend. According to the firm, overvaluation is getting worse, and houses are priced above what the firm believes is the “fair value.” According to an article by Les Christie at CNN, home prices are accelerating even ... Continue reading this article…

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Articles For Thursday

by Luke Landes

Here’s a snapshot of some of the reading I managed to sneak in while getting real work done in the office. As you can see, I didn’t have too much time today. * Why it’s smarter to buy a home rather than rent [focus] * Wall Street has a crush on Google but investors may ... Continue reading this article…

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Buying a House vs. Renting a House

by Luke Landes

Liz Pulliam Weston published a column explaining why it’s smarter to buy rather than rent a home. She cited some statistics that show that the average net worth of home owners in any income range are much higher than that of renters in the same range. Liz warns the readers to stay away from “buy ... Continue reading this article…

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Supersize My House

by Luke Landes

Slate is presenting an interesting essay slideshow on McMansions, the supersized abodes we love to hate. Why are Americans obsessed with big houses? The booming economy of the 1980s created great personal wealth, and wealth found expression in domestic architecture, as it always does. These large houses were variously referred to as trophy houses, starter ... Continue reading this article…

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Mistakes When Selling or Buying a House

by Luke Landes

Are you planning to buy or sell a house in 2006? Personally, I think 2007 or 2008 will be my year. Regardless, Bankrate.com is presenting ten mistakes in real estate to avoid in 2006: * Not understanding the length of the buying/selling process. Patience pays off. * Exposing your hand. Contain your enthusiasm. * Skipping ... Continue reading this article…

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Revisiting The Housing Bubble, Part 2

by Luke Landes

Part 1 on this short series about the housing bubble is here, driven by several articles from Fortune Magazine. Lately I’ve been splitting some of my longer posts into several parts — it’s better for digestion (metaphorically or otherwise). Today, about a third of new mortgages are nonstandard, fuzzy-math loans that have allowed many Americans ... Continue reading this article…

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Revisiting The Housing Bubble, Part 1

by Luke Landes

Fortune Magazine is taking a look at the hotly-debated housing bubble and offers some questions that homeowners should be asking in times of market uncertainty. Is it time to cash out? The article praises one family’s attempt to get out of the real estate market ahead of others who may do the same — mostly ... Continue reading this article…

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The Elevator Economy

by Luke Landes

Home sales hit new record. Sales of new homes in the U.S. rose by 3.4 percent in October. Housing boom past its peak? The pace of new home building slowed sharply in October, the weakest month in 2005. Home builder sentiment falls. The National Association of Home Builders says November was a bad month. Consumer ... Continue reading this article…

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Bad News For First Time Home Buyers

by Luke Landes

First of all, the numbers. The average “starter home” price nationally was $183,500 in the third quarter this year. With 10 percent down and a mortgage rate rate of 5.83 percent, the average during the same time period, a new homebuyer would need annual income of almost $50,000 to qualify for a mortgage. Here’s the ... Continue reading this article…

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Three Worst House Buying Excuses

by Luke Landes

According to MSN Money, here are the three worst reasons for buying a house: * It’s “better than the stock market.” “In the past 40 years, the average appreciation for homes has exceeded the inflation rate by only a percentage point or so. Compare that to stocks, which have bested inflation by 7 percentage points ... Continue reading this article…

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Megapolitans of the Future

by Luke Landes

I’ve been a bit busy at work today, so I haven’t had the chance to do the usual surfing. I did notice this article earlier and it’s interesting enough to mention. Business 2.0 is predicting a big boom in the “megapolitan” areas, extending to 2030. The authors of the article, Paul Kaihla and Krysten Crawford, ... Continue reading this article…

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Commissions Still High

by Luke Landes

A quick side note: Did you know you could subscribe to Consumerism Commentary? Simply use this RSS link in your favorite reader, such as BlogLines! It’s the perfect way to be sure you don’t miss anything. In general across a broad variety of services, competition has been driving commissions down. The internet has certainly helped ... Continue reading this article…

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Bigger Than Life

by Luke Landes

The founder of PeopleSoft is looking to build a three story, 72,000 square foot mansion in California. That’s about the size of Bill Gates’ and Michael Dell’s homes combined. It’s also bigger than the Notre Dame Cathedral, the Hearst Castle, and the White House. What do millionaires do with all that space? That’s a good ... Continue reading this article…

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Fly In The Face

by Luke Landes

The New York Times proves that in many expensive areas of the country (California, northeast U.S., etc.), it can be much better (financially speaking) to rent rather than to buy the same dwelling. After five years in which rents have barely budged while house prices in New York, Washington, Los Angeles and elsewhere have doubled, ... Continue reading this article…

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Katrina and Home Price Gouging

by Luke Landes

In Baton Rouge, home prices soared 20 percent as displaced persons began buying houses at a feverd pitch, in cash, not caring what they pay as supply is too low for demand. According to the CNN article, Baton Rouge residents have put their homes on the market to take advantage of the surge in demand, ... Continue reading this article…

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