13 August 2010

Week in Review: Things We Liked from the Week That Was

Social media’s power in capturing the public’s imagination was in full display again this week when a Jet Blue flight attendant quit his job after he “hurled obscenities at passengers over the airliner’s PA system, then deployed the inflatable emergency chute, slid down and fled.”  He instantly became an Internet sensation, spawning a Facebook page in his honor with 200,000 people who “Like” him, a hot Twitter hashtag and an instant cottage industry for t-shirts. Populist lawbreakers are nothing new, of course, but these digital flares do provide an interesting take on the pulse of the public.  What can it teach us about how news travels today?

Akron may have lost LeBron James to the Miami Heat earlier this summer, but a NAR survey found that the spring real estate market belonged to the Ohio city, with the largest price gain in Q2’10, up 36 percent from a year ago.  The Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Miami Beach area was only up 3.3 percent in the same time period.  So take that, Pat Riley.

Just when I thought mortgage rates couldn’t get any lower, Freddie Mac reports the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.44% for the week ending Aug. 12.  Let’s hope that inexpensive money and a buyer’s market will help kickstart a real estate transaction spree.

In another sign of the times, the Department of Housing and Urban Development will extend interest-free loans for as much as $50,000 for up to two years to help homeowners who are at risk of foreclosure due to involuntary unemployment, underemployment or a medical condition.  At a time when many see strategic default as a good option to escape debt, it is good to give people who want to honor their commitments every option to do so.

And, in what The Wall Street Journal is calling “affordable housing for the affluent,” high-end vacation home developers are downsizing to accommodate the frugal mogul.  Speaking of affordable housing, there are no consumer advocates or community groups invited to next week’s Conference on the Future of Housing Finance.  What do you think, should the debate around a revamped housing policy extend beyond academics and finance professionals?

And superstition be darned, happy Friday the 13th!

104 thoughts on “Week in Review: Things We Liked from the Week That Was

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