Rent.com recently published their top ten metropolitan areas for newlyweds hoping to live in “fun and affordable” cities. Of the top ten, six of those cities are in the south and none are in the Northeast– cities like New York and Boston, while fun and exciting, definitely don’t qualify as affordable. The site based its top ten by comparing living expenses, incomes, rental inventory, and unemployment rates. The list of the top ten cities is below; even if you can’t live there, the cities are likely to be “fun and affordable” to visit.
Bank of America recently announced a pilot program that would allow homeowners at risk for foreclosure to give the bank the deed to their house and signing a lease to rent at the market rate. The program, dubbed “Mortgage to Lease,” will be tested on 1,000 at-risk owners in Arizona, Nevada, and New York. This is a major change in how banks deal with at-risk owners: usually, banks try to reduce mortgage payments and, if that doesn’t work, forecloses the home and places it up for a short sale. If Bank of America’s experiment works, the bank is looking at selling the property to investors who will make money off of the rent– investors have already been buying up foreclosed property and renting it out. The program hopes to explore whether allowing homeowners stay in their homes as renters will reduce costs associated with foreclosing, maintaining, and selling the property. If homeowners respond positively to the rental system, Bank of America might expand the program beyond its initial test group.
In some states, a restriction on the size of an above-ground home has forced millionaire home owners to be more creative. Many are spending their money on lavish, underground spaces with ornate spas, modern art galleries, or pristine pools. Other subterranean projects include bowling alleys, bars, virtual golf courses, and skate parks– builders are trying to make the extra, below ground space seem more like a whimsical extension of luxury upstairs. These mega-basements allow homeowners to add square footage and value to their home by creating luxury spaces downstairs. And you can be sure these aren’t your parent’s basements– certainly, it will be hard to get kids upstairs. Yet there are already efforts to end this basement boom: neighbors are complaining about noise and property damage from digging, and lawmakers are concerned about erosion as an environmental effect to these mega-basements. Until the restrictions do come, you can be sure that these homeowners will keep digging for their basement treasure.
A report filed by RealtyTrac, an organizations measuring nationwide foreclosure statistics, found that foreclosures both declined and rose in February 2012. While February had 8% fewer foreclosures than one year ago, experts say that foreclosure rates are rising in major cities. In fact, some twenty one states reported an increase in foreclosure rates between January and February of 2012– Florida was among these states, with growing foreclosures in major cities like Tampa and Miami. Foreclosure statistics are measured by taking into account all foreclosure activity across the country– including defaults on loans, repossessions, and auctions. New York state, however, had one of the lower foreclosure rates among states, despite New York City being on the list of cities with rising foreclosures.
In Paris, Hermitage Group is set to start clearing the site for its future architectural icon– the 1,050 ft. tall Hermitage Plaza Towers. The towers, set to open in 2017, will hopefully help Paris’ real estate market rebound when Hermitage Group begins offering space for retailers, businesses, and property owners. What’s the price tag for space in the towers? €12,000 per square meter (for now– prices may go up!), and with over 280,000 square meters, the Hermitage Group will profit a great deal of off Europe’s future-tallest-buildings. The towers themselves are modern and industrial looking, distinctly different for the old, charming look of Paris itself. Yet it is housed in La Défense, Paris’ financial district, which boasts other impressive and modern skyscrapers. The towers are sure to attract foreign visitors and future-residents with their many features: a hotel, business and retail space, a park along the Seine river, panoramic views of the city, and a luxury spa.
For a (very European) video tour of the impressive structures, see this link.