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BUSINESS
March 20, 2008 | Jim Christie, Reuters
Even in the worst storms, there are pockets of calm, and the housing crisis gripping the United States is no different. Although prices are falling and owners are losing their homes to foreclosure around the country, places like Ross, a wealthy, woodsy town 18 miles north of San Francisco, still enjoy robust demand. That demand is explained by the town's sleepy feel -- the 2,300 residents have to collect their own mail from the post office -- and its exclusivity. Actor Sean Penn and Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh live here.
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BUSINESS
March 19, 2008 | Kathy M. Kristof and E. Scott Reckard, Times Staff Writer
The Federal Reserve has been slashing short-term interest rates since August with precious little effect on the one that matters most to homeowners and home buyers: the 30-year fixed mortgage rate. That rate is roughly where it was a year ago, while the discount rate, which is what banks pay to borrow directly from the central bank, is 4 percentage points lower. The Fed's opening of the spigot of cheaper money is supposed to spur across-the-board spending and economic growth, reversing the tide of recession, but bankers have in effect put a knot in the hose.
BUSINESS
March 14, 2008 | Peter Y. Hong, Times Staff Writer
Southern California home prices are now 19% below their peak last year, and the surprisingly rapid decline is leading experts to predict that the housing slump will be worse than initially thought -- surpassing the severe downturn of the 1990s. Home values also plunged 19% during the last real estate bust, but that was over a six-year period ending in 1997. Prices have now fallen just as much in less than a year. That trend is causing analysts to rethink their previous forecasts. Delores A.
BUSINESS
March 13, 2008 | Peter Y. Hong, Times Staff Writer
Downtown Los Angeles has seen a much-heralded revival in the last few years, with thousands of people moving in and a flock of new restaurants and upscale stores opening to serve them. Attractions such as Staples Center and the Nokia Theatre are helping support premium eateries and a lively club scene. But there are signs that downtown's residential boom is slowing, if not stalling out altogether.
BUSINESS
February 22, 2008 | Andrea Chang, Times Staff Writer
If home prices are plunging, then why are rents going up? That's a question Lynn Washington wants answered. The lease on his Marina del Rey apartment is expiring, and he can't find anything to rent for his budget of $1,000 a month. "It boggles the mind," said Washington, 59, who works as a liaison for international students at Santa Monica College. "I don't make enough to buy. And yet I don't make enough to afford to rent. I'm caught between the two."
BUSINESS
February 19, 2008 | Kim Murphy, Times Staff Writer
The British government introduced emergency legislation Monday to take temporary public ownership of Northern Rock, a major mortgage lender threatened with failure as a result of the sub-prime-spawned credit crunch. The government stepped in with about $104 billion in loans and guarantees in the fall. Now, it has rejected two private rescue plans for the ailing bank and hopes to stabilize the bank, then resell it.
BUSINESS
February 19, 2008 | Kim Murphy, Times Staff Writer
When Shirley Hale's husband dumped her for a younger woman and moved to the Czech Republic, Hale didn't get mad. She got a new house. After selling the family home in 2002, she bought a house in the suburbs of this old industrial city in northern England and took out a mortgage to fix it up. By last year, though, Hale had fallen behind on the payments on her "gorgeous little place" and was looking at foreclosure -- until a sales agent for a mortgage "rescue" company stopped in.
BUSINESS
February 5, 2008 | From Bloomberg News
The Federal Reserve said it became tougher for U.S. companies and consumers to get loans in the last three months, particularly to buy real estate. Most lenders anticipate more delinquencies and losses this year, assuming that "economic activity progresses in line with consensus forecasts," according to the central bank's quarterly survey of senior loan officers released Monday in Washington. The survey, conducted last month through Jan.
BUSINESS
February 2, 2008 | From Times Wire Services
Beazer Homes USA Inc., which is under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission, plans to exit the mortgage business and stop selling homes in four markets. The Atlanta-based builder will withdraw from Charlotte, N.C.; Cincinnati-Dayton and Columbus, Ohio; Columbia, S.C.; and Lexington, Ky. Countrywide Financial Corp. will become the company's preferred loan provider, Beazer said. Its shares rose 6.9%. Beazer said in October that it found evidence that employees of its mortgage unit violated federal rules.
REAL ESTATE
January 27, 2008 | Ann Brenoff
What's in, what's out with home buyers in 2008? Mark Nash, author of several real estate books including "1001 Tips for Buying and Selling a Home," has completed his annual survey of buyer preferences. Among his findings: Buyers want a destination bathroom -- the kind of getaway that has multiple task areas like a free-standing or throne bathtub, a flat-screen TV, wireless Internet and an in-home hair salon. And because we love our pets so, how about a shower for Fido that he can simply step into instead of having to be hoisted?
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