real estate

beach-hut-tent-150This Memorial Day kicked off a different kind of summer for many of us. The warm weather and slower pace are as welcome than ever; the big change is how much less we have to spend. We know what we’ll be keeping a lid on, but were curious about the broader trends across the country. Are summer camps closing? Are barbecues fizzling out? Some of the answers surprised us.

Down: Vactation rentals
Inventory is up and prices are down in resort areas from the Hamptons to New Hampshire’s Lake Winnepesaukee to North Carolina

house-of-money-dollars-coins-150The recession’s not over yet, folks. Jobs continue to be lost, money is still tight. So why are you still paying the same rent, mortgage, or storage fees?

One upside to the crisis is that cutting those costs may be easier than ever. In many parts of the country, landlords are willing to negotiate on rent. New federal policies have made it easier to refinance home loans. Here are seven ways to pay less—and most are even sacrifice-free…

miami-wind-and-palm-trees-150
As I write this, a gleaming, blue-hulled yacht about 100 feet long is gliding by on Biscayne Bay. Speakers on an empty rear deck blast the Gipsy Kings.

If Miami were a person, it would be well-toned and tanned, somewhat imperious and, of course, superficial to the Nth degree. It’s an image that goes a long way toward describing the city’s condition in the midst of national economic doldrums.

Sure, we’re hurting—with foreclosure rates among the nation’s highest, a building boom stopped dead in its tracks and tourism down—but the business and political elite tend to ignore flaws or alter them cosmetically. Think of it as a boob job for a sagging economy…

Beach Bummers

by Rob Morrison on April 28, 2009 in Lifestyle,Money

signonbeach-150We bought our second home four years ago. Ah, 2005—those were the days. My wife and I looked forward to leisurely weekends on Long Island’s North Fork with family, friends and our newborn son. With two thriving careers, the prospect of a second mortgage wasn’t daunting at all. And for a while it was a perfect retreat.

Times have changed. This summer an older couple from Palm Beach, strangers, will be spending their days and nights in our country escape. They found it online after we listed it as a rental property.

Realtors nationwide say that many second homeowners are turning to the rental market for relief from current economic pressures. Diane Saatchi, a senior vice president with the Corcoran Group in the Hamptons, says she’s seen a 20 to 30 percent increase in rental inventory this year…

“Joe the Trader” chronicles his experiences with life after Wall Street.
spring plant shoot with bud 150
On March 15th, in a remarkable show of transparency for a Federal Reserve governor, Ben Bernanke was interviewed on 60 Minutes. He sounded much like Chance the Gardener from Jerzy Kosinski’s Being There. In the classic novel and later movie, a simple gardener is released into Washington D.C. after the death of the man he has spent his life working for. Taken in by an advisor to the president who mistakes his name for the patrician sounding Chauncey Gardiner, Chance charms everyone with his botanical observations, which are misinterpreted as sage economic, financial and political allegories. In the spirit of the season, Chairman Bernanke said he saw signs of economic green shoots emerging. I sure hope that his comments were more valuable than a rambling gardener’s.

Than again, I’m not big on hoping. As a professional investor, I knew that if I was ever hoping, I was in trouble. It was my job to assess risk. It was my job to examine the merits of an investment, to know it’s pros and cons, and most importantly, to know when the facts had changed and I needed to get out of my position…

Recession Briefing 4.10

by Sara Clemence on April 10, 2009 in News

What you need to know today to survive and thrive in the recession.

chart-down 150The economy appears to be leveling off, with retail sales slowing their decline, the stock market up, and credit markets loosening. But the recession’s not over yet… (AP)

Slowly but surely, the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act—better known as the economic stimulus package—is beginning to percolate nationwide, six weeks after President Obama signed the legislation.(Washington Post)

It’s a renter’s market around the country, which means landlords are getting more creative (and desperate) to hold down vacancies and prevent turnover. (BusinessWeek)

President Barack Obama yesterday touted the economic benefits of refinancing, but he should keep the 30-year mortgage on his Chicago spread, a broker says. (Chicago Tribune)

baltimore-federal-hill-150BALTIMORE—Richard Friedman wrote in the New York Times a few weeks ago that while it may take a few weeks for anti-depressants to start working, the “side effects, like sexual dysfunction, are often immediate.” Whether or not this is a metaphor for the stimulus package, it is a fact that many Baltimoreans, mostly suburban, mostly with their children in private schools, are suffering. They started swallowing Cymbalta, Effexor, and Celexa somewhere around Christmas and, two months into their visits to the Ruxton Pharmacy, the situation, both nationally and in Baltimore, couldn’t be worse.

empty-officeWhen I found out last fall I was going to be laid off, visions of isolation began dancing through my head. I would be stuck working at my tiny desk in a gloomy corner of my 12 x 17 studio, all day long. Alone.

I quickly recruited several other office-less friends, all willing to spend $200 a month to avoid working at home. And then, I set out in search of desks.

With millions of square feet emptying out in cities all over the country, vacant cubicles have become legion and commercial lease holders very nervous. Here’s how you can make that work for you:

house-150As a native of Cleveland, Ohio, I was dismayed by the devastating portrait of the city’s flat-lining real estate market in Sunday’s New York Times. Flippers and other opportunists continue to be propped up by laws in their favor and banks who pull a “what, me?” shrug instead of stepping up to responsibility. Foreclosed on and abandoned homes have turned some neighborhoods into ghost towns. Cleveland is said to be a bellwether of the teetering real estate market.

It turns out lots of places are like Cleveland, with home values underwater. Business Week has identified some of them as targets for aspiring homeowners.

Each week, “Joe the Trader” chronicles his experiences with life after Wall Street.

keys in hand 150While it was old news, I was still left speechless by the article a fellow member of the He-Man’s Unemployment club recently sent to me. In early January, Newsweek published “The Case for Walking Away,” in which the author suggests that 2009 is the year to file for personal bankruptcy.

Don’t wait until it’s too late, the article advises. Indeed, “the right time to file for bankruptcy is when you’re financially stuck but still have assets to protect.” It is truly a sign of the times when a major news magazine is actually advocating such a thing.

The word credit is derived from the Latin credo, “to believe.” If integrity goes who will believe anybody? The current situation is truly a crisis of credit.