Hestia Masthead
June 18, 2010
Picture of the Week 

photo by Avery Meyers
PopUP Patio

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The Oil and the Housing Market
As if the housing

NOAA Oil Map

NOAA Map June 14
market in Florida needed any other reason for concern, the real estate industry is closely watching if the Deepwater Horizon oil spill will have an effect on people buying homes in the Sunshine State.  
Chuck Michaels, CAE, executive director of the Pensacola Association of Realtors, says he is assembling a report right now to see if buyers are shying away from the Pensacola area due to the oil spill crisis.
"It's hard to predict what the long-term response is going to be," he says. In the short-term, vacation rentals are reporting some cancellations, but he notes there is nothing concrete to show whether home buying will be affected.
He points out people should know there is no staining on the beaches in Pensacola, one of Florida's closest beaches to the spill.
"They look beautiful right now," he adds. "We're just taking it day-by-day, week-by week."
Although the numerous tar balls sighted in the area extending from the Alabama-Florida line to the entrance of the Perdido Unit caused the Escambia County (Fla.) Health Department to issue a health advisory for that area, CNN reports as of Wednesday all beaches remain open and there is no sign of sheen or oil smell whatsoever.
In the map above, provided by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), dark blue indicates the heaviest oil on the water, while light blue indicates a light level. The red box is the fishing ban. To see a close-up view, visit the interactive map at: http://www.geoplatform.gov/gulfresponse.
The Strategic Default Quagmire: A Smart Move or a Wealth Killer? 
A strategic mortgage default, the biggest buzzword phrase in the continued recovery of the beleaguered housing market, has people picking sides on the issue all the way to Washington, D.C.  Last week, House Republicans introduced a provision to ban government-backed loans for borrowers who walk away from their mortgages, even though they can still afford the monthly payments.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Brent White, the University of Arizona law professor who caused a stir late last year defending strategic defaults, denounced the House provision, noting a double standard is in place. He argues if banks and businesses can default, so can a homeowner.
Strategic Default
Strategic default author Paul Stevenson, creator of the recently revised and updated Strategic Mortgage Default System,
has declared 2010 to be "The Year of Strategic Default."  He claims in March 2010, an estimated 31% of defaults were strategic, which is nearly eight times the rate in 2007.  
Others, such as Luigi Zingales, a professor of finance at the University of Chicago in a recent City (Manhattan) Journal article argue that this trend could cause further destruction of wealth by causing real estate prices to plummet, which in turn could cause even more defaults. What's really scary is that some analysts say 48% of the 50 million mortgages in the U.S. could be underwater by 2011.  
So what happens if you strategically default, that is, if you stay in your home and not pay the mortgage until you are forced to leave? According to Greg Hall, owner of Real Estate Mortgage Professionals in Maitland, Fla., you lose your home, acquire a lower credit score, and some lending institutions will file a deficiency judgement for the difference between what you owe and how much they collect for the sale of the home.
"I would hope people would also think they have a moral obligation to hold up their part of the bargain," adds Hall. "This could devastate the country."

Federal Tax Credit Closing Deadline Extension to Alleviate Some Stress

Buyers and closing agents may be able to breath a little easier now that the U.S. Senate has extended the mandatory closing date for those who qualified for the Homebuyer's Tax Credit to September 30. The deadline had been June 30. According to the National Association of Realtors, without the extension, an estimated 180,000 buyers may not close in time to qualify for the tax credit. As of press time, the U.S. House had not acted on the bill. 
If the extension bill clears the House, it does not mean the end of June will be a time of relaxation for buyers or closing agents. "I still believe there will be a strong push to close by June 30, and I predict we will be busier than anticipated the first two days of July," says 
Deborah Dudley
Deborah Dudley
Deborah Dudley, Director of Builder Services at First American Title Insurance Company.
The monthly housing report from the Orlando Regional Realtor Association (ORRA) shows written contracts in May were up considerably since last year at this time, due to the tax credit and a stimulated trade-up market, notes ORRA Chairman Kathleen Gallagher McIver.  In May, a total of 10,351 homes were under contract. This number includes contracts filed prior to May 1 that were not closed as of May 31, as well as contracts filed during the month of May. 
PopUPOn the Green 

Chileno Valley Project Sonoma County CA - photo by Avery Meyers

Chileno Valley Project Sonoma County CA
The newest craze in green building goes one step beyond modular and manufactured housing and can deliver your house in a box, ready to be assembled and customized on site.
The PopUP House, according to CEO Hally Thacher, represents a new, clean and simple concept "that marries the image of Apple™ with the ease of assembly of Ikea™" with a construction cost of less than $100 per square foot.

The homes are energy efficient and can be finished and upgraded to fit your budget. The Single Cube PopUP House is priced at $75,000, while the Double Cube (pictured) runs $160,000. All PopUP homes rest beneath their own house port.

It takes about 180 days from contract to fruition and you will need those days to finish the home. PopUP homes do not come with finishing materials; kitchens; bathrooms, door, wall, or floor treatments; plumbing; lighting; or appliances. The owner is responsible for the site preparation and foundation.

The PopUP House Package does include a prefabricated house port, prefabricated exterior and interior insulated wall and roof panels for cubes, architectural and engineering drawings, a construction manual with step-by-step building instructions and diagrams, photographs, and a DVD demonstrating the process.
If you happen to be in the Petaluma, Calif., area on June 26, you can see the latest PopUP home design at a special open house. For the rest of us, here's a video to see how these homes arise from the flat box in which they arrive.  http://www.youtube.com/houseportinc#p/u
The Hestia Report, a name derived from the Greek goddess of the hearth and home, is created and distributed by Kevin Fritz, President, Fritz Communications, LLC 


Have some news we could use? Interested in sponsorships? Contact Kevin at 321.662.8191.