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October 13th, 2009

A Daily Roundup of Interesting Topics



Over the past few days or so, we compiled a short list of topics that we thought you all might find interesting. Below is a short synopsis of each:

50 Ways the Feds Waste Our Money“: Despite its generic title, this list is worth perusing. Seventy-two billion dollars wasted on improper payments, $25 billion a year to maintain unused and/or vacant Federal properties, $2.6 million on “training Chinese prostitutes to drink more responsibly on the job” (yes, you read that correctly). To see the full list, visit Heritage.org.

Massive Ford Recalls: Today, Ford added another 4.5 million vehicles to their 16-million-vehicle recall list. The recalls concern a faulty cruise control deactivation switch which has been causing fires:

Ford is notifying customers and instructing them to take vehicles to dealers for a complimentary installation of a fused wiring harness that will eliminate the risk of fires, the NHTSA said.

Tuesday’s recall includes the following Ford models: 1995-2003 Windstars, 2000-2003 Excursion diesels, 1993-1997 and 1999-2003 F-Super Duty diesels, 1992-2003 Econolines, 1995-2002 Explorers and Mercury Mountaineers, 1995-1997 and 2001-2003 Rangers and 1994 F35 motorhomes.

Commercial Landlords are Settling for Cheap, Temporary Renters: Artists in New York City are capitalizing on the languid commercial real estate market by signing cheap, short-term lease agreements to display their art:

As the recession drags on and storefronts across New York remain empty, commercial landlords are turning to an unlikely new class of tenants: artists, who in flusher times tend to get pushed out rather than lured in.

On terms that are cut-rate and usually temporary — a few weeks or months — the artist gets a gallery or studio, and the landlord gets a vibrant attraction that may deter crime and draw the next wave of paying tenants.

Home Builders Cut Back on the Freebies: As an apparent sign that the market has improved, the Wall Street Journal reports that Home Builders no longer need to entice homebuyers with the flashy incentives they once did:

With new-home inventory falling as home sales in many markets pick up, builders say they no longer need to offer eye-popping inducements to move homes.

In 2007, Meritage offered shoppers at its Valley Vista community in northern Phoenix $60,000 of incentives, including a free pool, gourmet kitchen or a reduction of the $349,000 ticket price, for a three-bedroom home with two-and-a-half baths. But the company is now building smaller, simpler houses that sell for about $245,000. Today’s buyers are more likely to get Meritage to pay their closing costs, worth about 6% of the closing price, or about $15,000 at Valley Vista.

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About the HSH Blog

HSH.com's daily blog focuses on the latest developments in the mortgage and housing markets. Our mission is to relate how changes in mortgage rates and housing policy, as well as the latest financial news, impacts consumers, homebuyers and industry insiders alike. Our 30-plus years of experience in the mortgage industry gives us an edge as we break down the latest changes in an ever-changing market.

Our bloggers:

Tim Manni

Tim Manni is the Managing Editor of HSH.com and the author of their daily blog, which concentrates on the latest developments in the mortgage and housing markets.

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