Tag Archives: housing issues

How healthy is your home? Call us to assist you with your green home decision.
Jim Gramata
The Gramata Realty Group Chicago’s Green Group – @properties

Our Healthy Homes Chicago Real Estate Blog

See on Scoop.itChicago healthy homes

Care2.comHow Healthy You Are Also Depends on Where You LiveSeattle Post Intelligencer (blog)A report titled “America’s Health Rankings” is annually issued by the United Health Foundation under the sponsorship of the UnitedHealth Group to identify…

Jim Gramata‘s insight:

December nights in Chicago remind me there are other (warmer) cities to call home.

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Our Healthy Homes Chicago Real Estate Blog

See on Scoop.itHealthyHomesChicago
The Sharable Future of Cities

TED Talks How can cities help save the future? Alex Steffen shows some cool neighborhood-based green projects that expand our access to things we want and need — while reducing the time we spend in cars.

Jim Gramata‘s insight:

Rethinking the global vision of moving towards urban net zero designs. As always TED rocks and so does Alex Steffen

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5 Steps to a Healthy Home Healthy  Home 2012, a designer showhouse that proves that green and healthy  can be stylish, opened last week in Lincoln Park. We asked one of the project’s  organizers, Victoria Di Iorio, for some easy tips to … Continue reading

A Social Entrepreneur Links Affordable Housing to the Green Economy | Habitat For Humanity on GOOD


A Social Entrepreneur Links Affordable Housing to the Green Economy

Shane Gring grew up playing with Legos and building tree forts; there was no question that he would study architecture when he arrived at college. But after he graduated in 2009, the collapse of the economy and the housing market left him without work. He signed up for a stint with Americorps, never imagining that what he saw as a career detour would spawn a new business combining his passion for architecture with affordable housing and sustainable building.

Americorps sent Gring to Boulder, Colorado to help Habitat for Humanity adopt LEED green building standards. The volunteer organization’s commitment to those standards isn’t just environmental; green buildings are cheaper over time and easier maintain, so what starts as affordable housing stays affordable. Gring earned his certification in building green homes and helped develop ways of making homes that used less water and energy out of safer and more sustainable building materials.

But building green has higher up front costs than regular housing, an issue for an organization like Habitat that must walk a fine line between affordability and sustainability. To solve that problem, Gring developed the idea that would become his business.

Demand for LEED-certified home builders is on the rise, but architects, designers, and contractors need experience working on green building sites to earn the LEED accreditation. And thanks to a recession that hurt home construction and the relative novelty of green residential building, there aren’t a lot of options for people to learn. Gring realized that if he charged tuition to professionals eager to work on green building sites and earn the increasingly important certification, he could use some of the revenue to offset the higher initial costs of green housing—and provide skilled volunteers for Habitat.

After piloting the program, called Everbuild Pro, inside Boulder’s Habitat chapter for two years, last year Gring and his colleagues spun it into BOULD, an autonomous social enterprise that will partner with Habitat and similar organizations around the country, leveraging interest in learning green building techniques to fund affordable housing developments and his business. In addition to the direct benefits to Habitat, Ging says he’s proud his company is increasing the number of people qualified to build sustainable housing.

Last year, BOULD helped build 20 LEED-certified homes and funnel $20,500 to affordable housing builders while training 160 people. Students include architecture, design and building professionals, high school students, and real estate agents and lawyers interested in learning more about green residential housing.

Gring will soon start a fellowship at the Unreasonable Institute, a social enterprise incubator in Boulder, where he will learn from experienced mentors about scaling his business and attempt to secure further capital to fund the company. Gring isn’t too nervous about the transition from architect to entrepreneur. "In architecture you are pitching, presenting, the design of your buildings on a daily basis," he says. "You get really good at taking critique and defending your ideas and it’s really helped me out when I’m pitching for BOULD in competitions and in front of investors. A great training, inadvertently, for the position I’m in now."

Photo via (cc) Flickr user COD Newsroom

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Jim Gramata
Managing Team Broker
The Gramata Realty Group



Green Tech Initiatives In Healthcare | Green Technology and Green Gadgets


Going Green in Hospitals

Green Tech, Eco-Friendly Waste Initiatives, and More

green tech and hospitals

Hospitals and health care facilities, as anyone might imagine, are at the vanguard when it comes to implementing green tech to better the environment and reduce the costs associated with the medical industry. So if you are hard at work in a hospital environment, what possibilities are there for healthcare initiatives that create a “greener” environment?

Let’s say you’re a nurse, recently graduated with a masters degree in nursing, and you’ve finally landed the perfect job in the hospital of your choosing. Or you’re a doctor, fresh out of medical school and walking the halls of your hospital home. In either case, you’re an environmentally conscious individual, committed to reducing your carbon footprint and thinking with an eco-sensitive attitude. What is being done in hospitals around the country to reduce medical waste, cut energy use, implement solar power, and become more green? Continue reading →

Health and Wellness
Tagged environmental initiatives in healthcare industry, Going Green in Hospitals, Green Tech Initiatives in Healthcare

Myths and Facts about FHA Loans


Myths and Facts about FHA

(November 2012)

FHA’s single family mortgage insurance program was created in 1934 to provide access to safe, affordable mortgage financing for American families. FHA does not lend money to homeowners. Instead, FHA insures qualified loans made by private lending institutions. Since 1934 FHA has made the dream of homeownership a reality for millions of American families.

During the economic recession and housing downturn, FHA has been one of the only sources of mortgage finance available, and they have weathered the storm well. While banks, lending institutions and private mortgage insurers went bankrupt or collapsed, FHA has been there. During the worst economic crisis of our time, FHA provided access to homeownership to more than 2.8 million first time homebuyers in the last four years.

Today, FHA continues to provide insurance and pay claims. For the first time in its history the program does not currently have a full 30 years’ worth of expected claim payments. But as our economy continues to improve, and housing prices continue to rise, so will FHA’s financial health. FHA has been the shining light in our economic crisis, and we believe they will continue to be an integral force in our recovery.

Myth: FHA is Bankrupt

Fact: FHA is not bankrupt. FHA’s current cash reserves total $30.4 billion. FHA is said to be undercapitalized because their independent actuary estimates that they do not currently have sufficient reserves to pay projected claims over the next 30 years. FHA is one of the few entities required by law to hold reserves for claims over a 30 year period. By comparison, the Financial Accounting Standards Board only requires private financial institutions to hold reserves for losses over the next 12 months.

What many commentators do not mention is the fact that the FY12 Actuarial Review shows FHA will be fully capitalized again in FY2014, and will reach the desired 2% capital reserves ratio by 2017, which is above and beyond the required 30-years’ worth of reserves. FHA also reports that “it is possible to return the MMI Fund capital ratio to a positive level within the year.”

Myth: FHA is Experiencing High Defaults and Foreclosures

Fact: FHA, like every other holder of mortgage risk, has incurred financial losses as a result of overall market conditions that have led to increased foreclosures. An analysis of FHA data indicates FHA’s problem is concentrated in older FHA loans that were significantly affected by the 33% decline in house prices since 2006. There has been widespread improvement in the performance of FHA loans since the market collapsed in 2008. But the legacy loans from 2007-2009 are placing a high burden on the fund. Seventy (70) billion dollars in projected future claims are attributable to that book of business.

It must be noted that the more recent book is performing very strongly; loans insured since 2010 are of high quality and are expected to continue to perform very well. Early payment defaults peaked in 2008 at 2.6% and are now at 0.3%. According to the most recent delinquency survey conducted by the Mortgage Bankers Association, “the total past due rate for FHA loans is now at its lowest level in over 10 years, and FHA’s post-2010 books are performing much better than loans originated prior to 2010.”

Myth: FHA’s Market Share is Too High

Fact: FHA’s market share is too high when viewed in the historical context. But it is performing the very role it was designed to do – filling the credit gap when private lenders flee the mortgage market. From FY1994 to FY 2002, FHA averaged about a 13% market share for loan originations. By FY 2006, FHA’s share had declined to a low of 3.77%. FHA’s market share peaked at 19.3% in 2010, is now returning to traditional levels and stands at 15.78% in FY2012. As housing markets stabilize and new mortgage regulations are finalized, private markets will once again have some certainty and the private market will return. This will allow FHA’s market share to decline even further.

Myth: FHA is Squeezing Out the Private Market

Fact: FHA does not lend money. FHA insures loans made by the private market. FHA has been critical in filling the gap when the private market abandoned housing finance. Today, FHA does not insure loans over $729,750. If FHA was squeezing out the private market, we would expect that private lenders would be active in the market for mortgages over $729,750. Yet there is a significant lack of private credit in that market. Furthermore, FHA and the GSEs have greatly restricted their participation in the mortgage market for condominiums. Yet the private market hasn’t thrived in this space either. With the private market unable or unwilling to return to housing markets, the role of FHA has never been more critical.

Myth: FHA is Not Serving Its Mission

Fact: FHA was created in 1934 during a similarly difficult time in housing finance markets when there was little private lending. Today, the agency is filling just the role it was designed for – to provide safe, affordable financing when the private market cannot or will not participate. In FY2011, over half of all African Americans who purchased a home and forty-nine percent of Hispanics did so with FHA financing. Moreover, 78% of FHA’s borrowers were first time homebuyers.

Myth: FHA Borrowers are Poor Risks

Fact: FHA borrowers today have credit scores at historically high levels. The average credit score for FHA purchase loans was 700 in FY12, compared to 696 in FY11. More than 30% of FHA borrowers in FY12 had credit scores above 720.

Myth: FHA Borrowers are Highly Subsidized

Fact: FHA borrowers pay significant premiums to cover their mortgage insurance. Over the last 2 years, FHA has increased their premiums four times. In fact, today FHA’s premiums – both the upfront and the annual – are higher than they have ever been. Today’s premiums include a 1.75% upfront premium, and 1.25% in an annual premium, that is paid monthly. Furthermore, the FHA has also announced moving forward that they will increase the annual fee to 1.35%.

The 15 Worst Housing Markets For The Next Five Years – Business Insider


The 15 Worst Housing Markets For The Next Five Years

epic residences miami


Housing has turned the corner and is said to be a bright spot in the U.S. economy.

But national home prices are expected to climb just 3.3 percent in the next five years, according to the latest dataicon1.png from Fiserv Case-Shiller.

Earlier this week we put together a list of the 15 best housing markets for the next five years that will see home prices rise at a much faster pace.

Today, we’re following it up with a feature on the 15 housing markets that are projected to see the most declines or the slowest growth in home prices.

Note: The median family income and home price data is for Q1 2012. Unemployment data is for May 2012, and population data is for 2011.