Negative Equity Is Improving, but Condos Are More Likely to be Underwater

The U.S. rate of underwater homeowners – those who owe more on their home than it’s worth – continued to drop in the first half of 2015. But condo owners are still more likely to be stuck in negative equity than people who own single-family homes.

Homes in the low end of the housing market are more likely to be underwater. Fortunately, while homes across the U.S. are appreciating, homes at the low end are appreciating faster. This is causing the negative equity rate to decline.

In the U.S., 14.4 percent of all mortgaged single-family homes are underwater, according to Zillow’s Second Quarter Negative Equity report. Condos are lagging behind in the recovery, at 19.3 percent.

Overall, more condos than homes are upside down in every large U.S. housing market except Pittsburgh, Detroit and Memphis.

Here are the top 10 markets where condos are deeper underwater than single-family homes:

  1. Jacksonville, FL. The negative equity rate for single-family homes in Jacksonville is at 21.3 percent, more than half the 41.5 percent rate for condos.
  2. Chicago, IL. 32.6 percent of condo owners in Chicago are upside down on their mortgage, and 19.2 percent of single-family home owners are upside down on theirs.
  3. Orlando, FL. Orlando comes in third with 16.8 percent of single-family homes in negative equity and 29.9 percent of condos are in the same boat.
  4. Sacramento, CA. 12.5 percent of single-family homeowners in Sacramento owe more on their home than it’s worth, compared to the 25.4 percent of condo owners.
  5. Las Vegas, NV. The negative equity rate for condo owners in Las Vegas is 36.7 percent. The rate is 23.8 percent for single-family homeowners.
  6. Providence, RI. 25.9 percent of condo owners in Providence are upside down on their mortgage. The rate drops to 14.4 percent when it comes to single-family homes.
  7. Columbus, OH. Single-family homes in Columbus have a 13.1 percent negative equity rate, compared to a rate of 24.6 percent in condos.
  8. Virginia Beach, VA. The negative equity rate for single-family homes in Virginia Beach is 21.7 percent. That rates jumps to 32.8 percent for condos.
  9. Hartford, CT. 25.4 percent of condo owners in Hartford are upside down on their mortgage, compared to 15.1 percent of single-family homeowners.
  10. Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN. In Minneapolis, the negative equity rate for condo-owners is 22.1 percent. This rate drops to 12 percent in single-family homes.

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3 Home Upgrade Options for a $5,000 Budget

For a renovation budget of $5,000, you can add some serious functional upgrades to your home. Kitchens and bathrooms are smart places to focus your dollars. They are hardworking rooms that you’ll enjoy using, but also among the first rooms a future buyer will look at.

Another practical way to increase the function of your house is by adding living space. While you can’t do an actual home addition for $5,000, you can create a functional outdoor living space that increases your usable square footage.

Here’s how to complete each of these three renovation projects on a $5,000 budget.

Upgrading to custom kitchen cabinets

Creating a more functional and beautiful kitchen is a win-win, and one way to achieve that goal is by upgrading your cabinetry. For this price-point, you could design cabinets that work for you, how you use your kitchen, and your kitchen layout. Custom cabinets allow you to maximize storage for the space that you have.

Image 1Features like built-in wine racks and spice storage are options that will really put the “custom” in your new cabinets. And small additions like those can be effective selling points for homes.

Installing a tile shower

Nothing says luxury in a master bath like a standing tiled shower with glass door. For $5,000, you could remove the standard bath insert and surround and put in a custom tiled shower.

Image 3For additional function, tile in a corner bench and soap shelf. You’ll feel like you’re visiting a luxurious resort in the comfort of your own home.

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Create an outdoor living area

Boosting square footage is a great idea for you and future buyers, but additions are expensive. Adding a fabulous outdoor patio can drastically increase your usable living space for a much smaller price tag.

The options for patio material include chipped granite, pavers or flagstone. Adding mulch in beds surrounding the patio will really make a visual statement, and keep the patio from looking like it’s floating in your backyard.

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Build a pergola or covered seating area to create more visual appeal and boost the space’s usability. You can hang lights or fans overhead in the structure — and if it’s covered, you’ll have a spot to escape the weather.

While this upgrade benefits you, it’s also a big selling feature. Most homes don’t have an attractive outdoor living area, and adding this amenity will make buyers flock to your listing.

Any of these three updates will make you love your home in a whole new way. You can’t go wrong with improving kitchen storage, upgrading your current bathroom, or increasing your potential living space by taking to the outdoors.

See more home design inspiration.

Photos courtesy of White Buffalo Styling Co. 


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Dale Chihuly’s Childhood Home Lists in Tacoma

Yellow Neon Chandelier and Persians inside the Visitors Center in Columbus, Indiana

Chihuly’s work on display inside the Visitors Center in Columbus, Indiana

The childhood home of artist Dale Chihuly, the glassblower who’s traveled the world with his colorful twists and orbs, has been listed in Tacoma, WA, for $389,000.

The 1943 Craftsman comes with 4 bedrooms, 2 baths and a basement where, as a college student, Chihuly remodeled a rec room using 1950s motifs and drapes inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright, one of his heroes.

The drapes are gone, but the basement still carries hints of Chihuly, listing agent Juli Anne Gibson of Keller Williams Puget Sound was excited to find.

“The floor is painted a green color he’s known for with those abstract circles and dots he does,” said Gibson, who matched the design to a Chihuly painting online. “The color is pretty distinct, and he even did it on the stairs.”

The corner-lot home in Tacoma’s Proctor District, known for nice homes and its own little urban village, features the original mahogany trim, doors and moldings; newly restored hardwood floors; and a remodeled kitchen and main bathroom.

There’s an open house this Sunday from noon to 3 p.m. Pacific Time.


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Hyper-Gentrification Comes to Miami

There’s a swanky swath of Miami called Brickell that’s bursting at its seams.

Luxury condos — belonging largely to high earners and overseas investors — are packed in so tight that some balconies have front-row seats on the highway.

Something has to give, and it’s becoming clear that the breach lies in nearby neighborhoods where working-class blacks and Latinos live, and which Zillow visited on the Miami stop of its Housing Roadmap tour.

People in those areas have mixed feelings about what appears to be coming — a sort of hyper-gentrification, in which areas rocket from low-income to high, skipping the usual middle-class phase known simply as gentrification.

Some people own homes and are thrilled at the prospect of rising land values. Others worry about their future and how upscale development could change the character of their neighborhoods.

miami-map-blogpost_v2_090315Luxury comes to Overtown

Bishop James Adams is braced for the worst.

He’s a community leader and senior pastor at St. John’s Baptist Church in the mostly black neighborhood of Overtown, where developers plan a nearly 30-acre retail, residential and hospitality extravaganza called Miami Worldcenter.

It’s bringing the restaurants, shops and entertainment that draw people to Miami. Rather than having to slog miles for those amenities, with Miami Worldcenter, people will be able to visit Bloomingdale’s and Macy’s just down the street from their Brickell condos — or they can buy a luxury residence at the Worldcenter.

“I’m not anti-development,” said Adams, who is leading a $23 million project called St. John Plaza across the street from the church that will include housing, a community center and an early childhood development center.

Worldcenter “has the potential to do some good in providing jobs and bringing economic development to the neighborhood,” he said.  But political deals struck over the development could be more beneficial to the community.

For example, Adams said, the project’s 1,800-room hotel could agree to pay more than Florida’s $8.05-an-hour minimum wage.


Bishop James Adams and Latousha Daniels of St. John’s Baptist Church and Children’s Center meet prospective student Jermany Wilson, 1, and her mother and grandmother.

“To quote an Overtown resident, ‘that’s a dying wage,’” Adams said. “Most of the employees are going to be women, many of them single mothers and many of them minorities. Those individuals won’t be able to live nearby if they aren’t able to make a living wage.”

Overtown has been a haven for black residents going back decades, to a time when segregation made it one of the only neighborhoods where they were welcome.

Muhammad Ali lived there when he was still Cassius Clay, training to beat Sonny Liston for the heavyweight title.

Black performers who played clubs in Miami Beach in the 1940s, ’50s and into the ’60s would come to Overtown for late-night gigs and to stay over at one of its hotels. The endless stream of entertainers included Billie Holiday, Sammy Davis Jr., Sam Cooke, Nat “King” Cole and Josephine Baker.

In recent decades, the area has been down on its luck, its thriving businesses shuttered and some of its streets and empty lots given over to homeless people.

Adams understands why there are tax incentives to eliminate slums and blight, he said. “But they should not be able to eliminate a community.”

Little Havana listed as endangered

Milagro and Brice Ciener with Benjamin, 12, and Clark, 6 weeks, outside the Little Havana home they bought last year.

Milagro and Brice Ciener with Aiden, 3, and Clark, 6 weeks, outside the Little Havana home they bought last year.

For homeowners, the view is different.

Brice and Milagro Ciener bought a 1,500-square-foot bungalow in the Little Havana neighborhood last year and have already seen the value increase nearly 50 percent.

“Little Havana is the next up-and-coming area. It’s going to be West Brickell,” Milagro said.

She’s not the only one who thinks so.

Developers are already eyeing Little Havana, one of Miami’s most beloved neighborhoods, which makes the backdrop of Brickell high-rises in the distance appear to be looming.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, concerned about upzoning and a lack of protections for historic buildings, included the area on its 2015 list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places.

Unlike Overtown, Little Havana remains economically vibrant, its streets lined with locally owned bars, shops and salons and populated by people of all ages and many nationalities.

Fresh investments abound, including last year’s reopening of the Ball Chain restaurant and club across Calle Ocho (Eighth Street) from iconic Domino Park. The club closed in the 1950s after Count Basie sued for payment.

Owner Bill Fuller said he loves Little Havana, calls it “the real deal,” and is thrilled to be attracting tourists by day and locals in droves at night, especially on weekends. “We’re stewards of a great old brand,” he said.

Longtime Little Havana resident Ebenezer Reyes helped build Brickell's high rises.

Longtime Little Havana resident Ebenezer Reyes helped build Brickell’s high rises.

Half a mile away, the Cieners hope they and their children will benefit from new development in Little Havana.

“It helps us, because we’re property owners, so our lot is going to be worth more money,” Brice said.


He also hopes rising values and rents will push out some of their less savory neighbors, people they suspect are stealing and otherwise causing trouble.

Others will be driven out as well — people like Ebenezer Reyes, who’s lived in Little Havana for 32 years, 15 of them in his current apartment.

“When they come to give my landlord an offer for his building, he won’t care how many years I’ve lived there,” Reyes said. “He’s going to sell, because it’s good for him.”

Reyes knows the buildings on the horizon intimately. He labored for decades as an ironworker and put up the steel framework for many of Brickell’s high-rises.

Vision for a different future

Development does not have to mean lost opportunities and being pushed out, Adams said.

“This very well could be a time when conscientious developers could be a catalyst to say, you know what, this neighborhood is worthwhile,” he said. “It’s heartbreaking to think such a great neighborhood that has a lot of character — all it really needs is a breath of fresh air to reignite it economically and socially.”

His St. John Plaza development will pay workers $13 to $15 an hour in hopes of sparking a different future for Overtown — one that looks more like its past.

“Overtown used to be self-sufficient,” Adams said. “We didn’t have to pull up our bootstraps, because we bought our own boots.”

Photos by Charles Trainor Jr.


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Great Spaces, Star Wars Edition: Yoda’s Hut, How Much It Is?

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away there existed a unique fixer-upper opportunity for home buyers: the house that once belonged to legendary Jedi Master Yoda. Thanks to the gang over at Movoto, we now have the first evaluation of a property from the world George Lucas first brought to life on screens in 1977. If you could buy Yoda’s house (okay, so it’s technically a hut) here in the U.S., it’d cost you a mere $7,762.

Inexpensive, it is!

As we know, Yoda lives on Dagobah, a bayous and dark location filled with dank swamps. Naturally, the Movoto team checked some comps in the United States’ very own Louisiana, home to one of the world’s largest swamps and biggest in the U.S.: the Atchafalaya Basin, west of New Orleans and Baton Rouge.  They even figured out the price per square foot! Check out the infographic below for a little Star Wars/real estate fun:


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