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6 August 2010

Week in Review: Things We Liked from the Week That Was

President Obama, born August 4, 1961, celebrated his 49th birthday this week.  The same year the President was born, the lobby group National Committee against Discrimination in Housing (NCDH) released a report which found that private mortgage lenders continued to “profit from Federal benefits, chartering and insurance” yet still “deny loans on the basis of race and religion.” It seems almost unfathomable that the parents of the man who would grow up to lead the nation faced an environment in which the pursuit The American Dream of home ownership could have been denied for wholly unfair reasons.

The housing market is still experiencing withdrawal from the tax credit as pending home sales dropped nearly 3 percent in June to its lowest level on record. Experts agree that pending home sales could remain low in coming months, creating a plethora of inventory — there are currently 2.5 million vacant homes in the country — and putting downward pressure on houses.

Over the past few years, “smart growth,” or the shift to urban-style living in the suburbs, has popped up in communities nationwide. These compact, walkable neighborhoods are more attractive to baby boomers and their children than the1950’s suburban model of car-dependent and open spaces. It will be interesting to see the future of this movement.

Homeowners facing “unique hardships”— those who have a spouse who is injured or killed in military duty or if they are forced to vacate a home to replace defective drywall– are getting help from Fannie Mae. The agency will allow these borrowers to skip up to six months of payment. I’m glad to see that in times of asperity, these people will have one less thing to worry about. Speaking of assistance, the Obama administration plans to send $600 million to help unemployed homeowners avoid foreclosure in North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island and South Carolina.

On day 108 of the biggest oil spill in our country’s history, homeowners in the Gulf region dealt with a further blow. CoreLogic reported this week that 600,000 properties will lose an estimated $56,000 each in value. This is a far cry from Berkeley, California where a report from ZipRealty shows that the city the best place to sell a home as they are going for an average of nearly 108 percent of asking price.

Check out Forbes’ list of the best cities for young professionals to have the best chance for success based on unemployment and cost of living, among other things. What do you think of the list? Where did you start out your career?

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