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Monday, September 15, 2008

DAILY BRIEFING: Monday, September 15, 2008

DAILY BRIEFING
Monday, September 15, 2008

BEST PLACES TO LIVE

CNN's Money magazine recently listed America's best places to live, and a number of Florida areas made the cut. Three cities - Coral Springs, Miramar and Weston - are in the top 100 for best places to live; while Dunedin is a terrific town on the water; Collier County offers a long life; and Ferry Pass is affordable.

REAL ESTATE ECONOMY

Wellesley College economist Karl Case presented a paper at the Brookings Institution on Sept. 11 that suggests the housing market may be close to bottoming out. He cited modest gains in residential prices in nine of the 20 markets covered by the S&P/Case-Shiller home price index and a narrowing of the gap between incomes and home prices

VETERANS HOUSING

The U.S. House passed H.R. 6832, the Veterans Construction and Extension Act of 2008, in a bipartisan effort on Sept. 11, a move praised by NAR. While the bill must still be passed by the Senate and signed by the president, the initiative could expand affordable housing for the nation's war veterans.

REAL ESTATE TRENDS

Teardowns - houses bulldozed to make room for bigger houses - are not as prevalent in South Florida as they were just a few years ago. "The renovation market has definitely become more popular because it's a lot less expensive than new construction," says Dana Shear of Miami-based Shear Construction & Development.

INTEREST RATES

When the Federal Reserve meets this week, policymakers are expected to ride out the current economic and financial storms by holding interest rates steady now and probably through the rest of the year. A growing number of analysts predict that the economy will shrink in the last three months of this year and the first three months of 2009, meeting the classic definition of a recession.

LEASE-TO-BUY IS BACK

More and more people struggling to obtain financing for a home purchase are finding a viable option in lease-to-buy agreements, which enable renters to rent a property with the option to purchase the residence at the end of the lease term. In particular, buyers with poor credit find that this approach gives them an opportunity to improve their credit while moving toward homeownership; and sellers find that once-vacant properties now offer a stable cash flow. The concept also appeals to prospective buyers who are unsure if they're ready for the responsibilities and additional costs that come with owning a home. Now, a growing number of condominium developers are also testing rent-to-own programs in hopes of eventually getting units sold.

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