California expects mortgage-aid program to begin in weeks The California Housing Finance Agency (CalHFA) reported this week that its “Keep Your Home California” program will be delayed because of logistical issues with the program. The program was scheduled to begin Monday, Nov. 1.
MAKING SENSE OF THE STORY FOR CONSUMERS
The “Keep Your Home California” program is a $1.83 billion government aid program that will pay down loan balances and provide monthly cash assistance to struggling California homeowners.
One of the logistical complications that has caused the delay is the fact that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac last week instructed their loan servicers to participate in the program, dramatically increasing the number of potentially eligible homeowners.
Funded with federal money, the program offers four different types of cash assistance for an estimated 100,000 low- to moderate-income California homeowners. Additionally, eligible borrowers must have endured some sort of loss of income.
The two primary forms of aid include $875 million dedicated toward unemployed Californians who need help making their monthly payments, and $790 million to be used to directly reduce mortgage loan balances.
Although the program has been delayed for several weeks, homeowners struggling to make their mortgage payments are advised to not wait for assistance programs to begin before contacting their servicer or lender. Instead, homeowners should begin working with their lender or servicer at the first sign of difficulty.
More information about the “Keep Your Home California” program can be found at www.keepyourhomecalifornia.org. A toll-free hotline soon will be established.
It might not be the most effective method, but some people are watching over vacant homes from afar with the help of a toy robot.
Some possibilities includeRovio from WowWee, which can be controlled by a signal from an Internet connection and sells in the toy department for $170. A company calledRobodancesells software enhancements that give security users more control.
Meccano, the company that is best known for make Erector sets also sells the Spykee, a kit that allows a child to build a robot, but it has adult fans, too. ''It's a toy, but many people use it as surveillance robot,'' says Jennifer Briand, the product manager for Spykee.
Another option: Software from a company called Vitamin D allows you to turn a computer with a webcam into a surveillance tool.
Source: The New York Times, Peter Wayner (11/04/2010) and Realtor Magazine
As Google contemplates buying its New York City headquarters for $2 billion, AOL’s Daily Finance takes a look at the five largest commercial real estate deals in U.S. history. All of them, it turns out, are in Manhattan.
1. Stuyvesant Town: $5.3 billion These 110 building, 14-story, rent-stabilized apartments were sold in a deal that closed right before the real estate meltdown. Since then, the buyers have turned the property back to their creditors.
2. GM Building: $2.8 billion This is the single most expensive purchase of an individual building ever. Boston Properties, Goldman Sachs (GS), and Meraas Capital purchased it in 2008.
3. Rockefeller Center: $1.85 billion This complex houses Radio City Music Hall, the GE Building, and the Bank of America Building. Goldman Sachs and Tishman-Speyer sold it to Lester Crown.
4. 666 5th Avenue: $1.8 billion Its sale in January 2007 was, at that time, the most ever paid for a single office building.
5. Worldwide Plaza: $1.74 billion Macklowe Properties bought the property in February 2007. About two-and-a-half years later, it was sold for about $600 million, a 65 percent decline in value.
U.S. Overall Industrial Vacancy Remains Unchanged at 10.6 percent in Third Quarter
The overall U.S. industrial vacancy rate remained unchanged from midyear, ending the third quarter at 10.6 percent, after peaking at 10.8 percent at the end of the first quarter of this year, according to new data from Cushman & Wakefield.
Year-to-date leasing activity for the U.S. industrial market totaled 189.8 million square feet at the end of the third quarter of 2010, an 11.9 percent increase in activity from the 169.5 million square feet leased at this time last year.
The year-to-date overall absorption rate, a measure which indicates the net change in occupied space, was negative 6.2 million square feet at the end of the third quarter, a 94.7 percent increase in absorption from the negative 118.5 million square feet at the end of the third quarter of 2009.
"While the overall vacancy rate remains unchanged, we are fairly confident that it has hit its peak," said Jim Dieter, executive vice president of Cushman & Wakefield's Industrial Services.
"With continued improvements in leasing activity, we should start to see some downward movement in the overall vacancy rate through the end of the year."
Industrial construction remained at historical lows in the third quarter of 2010. Year-to-date product completions totaled 12.3 million square feet, down 77.9 percent from the 55.8 million square feet completed at this time last year.
"With nearly 14 million square feet expected to be completed through the remainder of the year, 2010 is on track to see the most limited amount of new construction added to the market since Cushman & Wakefield began tracking the market," said Maria Sicola, executive managing director and head of Americas Research for Cushman & Wakefield.