Homes Are Still Where Our Financial Hearts Are

Gallup's Economy and Personal Finances poll asked Americans to choose the best option for long-term investments and they went with real estate, followed by gold, and then stocks and mutual funds (which should be the answer!), and then savings accounts and bonds. Lower-income Americans earning less than $30K were most likely to choose gold as a long-term investment.

‘The Most Important Chart for the U.S. Housing Market’

Quartz's Matt Phillips found a chart from Barclays Research showing the average FICO score for 30-year mortgages at around 750 (on a measure that ranges from 300 to 850), which is notably higher than it was in our pre-Recession days when it was easier to get credit with average FICO scores.

People Will Buy Homes in Cities With Jobs

At the sales office for a new development southeast of Phoenix called Waters at Ocotillo, the PulteGroup (PHM) representative says she’s too busy to talk. It’s a Monday afternoon. One customer is signing a contract in her office, she explains, and another is due soon. The model for Pulte’s Yucca home is open, though. The price starts at $392,990. It’s two stories and 2,688 square feet, designed for four bedrooms and three cars. It’s stucco—as is nearly every home in every subdivision in Phoenix—high-ceilinged, and energy-efficient. The model is completely furnished, with fake iPods, iPads, and family photos. There’s a real foosball table and Whitney Houston’s Greatest Love of All streams through built-in speakers. The Yucca is part of what homebuilder Pulte calls the Cactus line; there’s also the Majesty line, which is bigger and has courtyards.

This week’s issue of Bloomberg Businessweek looks at the housing recovery in metropolitan areas like Phoenix, where housing prices climbed by 22 percent last year. Arizona was number six in the country last year for job growth, and since housing inventory is low in Phoenix, prices of homes have risen and homebuilders are scrambling to buy land to build new subdivisions. It also helps to play Whitney Houston in model homes too, apparently.

Housesitting

In Guernica, Brian Blanchfield waxes poetic about housesitting for other people, describing the joys of doing it, and the times when it can all go wrong (like when the person you're housesitting for comes home early and you're asleep in her bed and everything is a mess).

Jon Stewart Takes on MERS

MERS—The Mortgage Electronic Registration System is losing deeds to houses and making it difficult to fight against wrongful foreclosure practices.

The Triple-Mint House

I can't stop looking at the photos of this $30 million apartment.

The Bubble Takes Shape

Billfold pal Helaine Olen traveled to Los Angeles to witness the beginnings of what looks like our next housing bubble, which seems inevitable given our tendency to relive history. The bidding wars, which are happening all over the country, reminded me of Rebecca's account of trying to buy a house in Oakland. Real estate madness—it's back.

Why Live in a Yurt? And How Much Does It Cost? A Conversation with Melissa Fletcher

What is a yurt and why are people living in them? Julie Beck interviews Yurts of Hawaii's Melissa Fletcher to find out.