Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Top 100 April Fool's Day Hoaxes of All Time

#1: The Swiss Spaghetti 1957

The respected BBC news show Panorama announced that thanks to a very mild winter and the virtual elimination of the dreaded spaghetti weevil, Swiss farmers were enjoying a bumper spaghetti crop. It accompanied this announcement with footage of Swiss peasants pulling strands of spaghetti down from trees. Huge numbers of viewers were taken in. Many called the BBC wanting to know how they could grow their own spaghetti tree. To this the BBC diplomatically replied, "place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best."

#2: Sidd Finch 1985

Sports Illustrated published a story about a new rookie pitcher who planned to play for the Mets. His name was Sidd Finch, and he could reportedly throw a baseball at 168 mph with pinpoint accuracy. This was 65 mph faster than the previous record. Surprisingly, Sidd Finch had never even played the game before. Instead, he had mastered the "art of the pitch" in a Tibetan monastery under the guidance of the "great poet-saint Lama Milaraspa." Mets fans celebrated their teams' amazing luck at having found such a gifted player, and Sports Illustrated was flooded with requests for more information. In reality this legendary player only existed in the imagination of the author of the article, George Plimpton.

See the rest here: http://humor.about.com/gi/dynamic/offsite.htm?site=http://www.museumofhoaxes.com/top100.html

Friday, March 27, 2009

Mortgage rates fall to record low

30-year fixed loan averages 4.85%; stocks extend rally
Friday, March 27, 2009 3:00 AM
By Alan Zibel
Entire article is here: http://www.dispatch.com/live/content/business/stories/2009/03/27/mortgage_rates_0327.ART_ART_03-27-09_C12_JHDC9V2.html?sid=101
clipped from www.dispatch.com
WASHINGTON -- Rates on 30-year mortgages fell this week to the lowest level on record after the
Federal Reserve launched a new effort to assist the staggering U.S. housing market.

Mortgage finance giant Freddie Mac said yesterday that the average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate
mortgage fell to 4.85 percent this week from 4.98 percent last week. It was the lowest in the
history of Freddie Mac's survey, which dates to 1971.

The previous record low of 4.96 percent was set in the week of Jan. 15. Rates fell after the Fed
said last week that it will pump $1.2 trillion into the economy in an effort to lower mortgage
rates and loosen credit.

The average rate on a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage dropped to 4.58 percent this week from 4.61
percent last week.

Mortgage applications surged last week, mostly from borrowers looking to refinance. The Mortgage
Bankers Association said Wednesday that its application index rose more than 30 percent last

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Home-Price Indexes: Which Is Most Accurate?

Lack of cohesion makes gauging values difficult

The entire article is here: http://www.frontdoor.com/Buy/HomePrice-Indices-Which-Is-Most-Accurate/54755
clipped from www.frontdoor.com

HOUSE-HUNTING TIP: The only way to know for sure the current market value of a home is to put it on the market and sell it. However, this isn't realistic if you're trying to determine whether or not now is a good time to sell. You need to research your local market to gauge the approximate selling price of your home at any given time.

A good, reputable real estate agent who knows your neighborhood well can assist you by preparing a current market analysis (CMA) of your home. This will give you a snapshot of recent sales in your area. Make sure it includes the most recent sales, listings that have sold but not yet closed, and active listings.

THE CLOSING: Don't make a decision on whether or not to buy or sell based on a news headline. Read the entire article. Then research your local market.

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Monday, March 23, 2009

Ibiza Update: An Interview with Rajesh Lahoti

The Ibiza condo development was first mentioned on Columbus Underground in October 2006, so it’s no surprise that some locals have grown frustrated with the fact that after two-and-a-half years of waiting, construction hasn’t started yet.

With a project of this size and significance in the neighborhood, the rumors are bound to fly. Over the past few months many on Columbus Underground have raised questions about the current status of the project. Instead of pondering though, we decided to go straight to the source and sit down with Rajesh Lahoti for an interview and an update on Ibiza.

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Saturday, March 21, 2009

Owners have 10 days to challenge property tax bills

To see the appraised taxable value of your home go here: http://franklin.governmaxa.com/propertymax/rover30.asp

clipped from www.dispatch.com
Franklin County property owners have until March 31 to try to save a few dollars on their tax
bill by filing a challenge with the Board of Revision.

The Franklin County Auditor's office recently completed an update of property values for the
2008 tax year. The first new bills were mailed in December and due in January.

Tax bills are based on property values. The auditor's office, reflecting the current flat
market, did not raise residential valuations this time around, said Laurie Ludlum of the Franklin
County Auditor's office. But many people believe their property has dropped in value in a down
housing market.

Under Ohio law, property owners have a right to appeal to the Board of Revision, a three-member
panel with representatives from the auditor's, treasurer's and commissioner's offices.

Residents who win their cases receive a credit on their June bill for the taxes overpaid in

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

While other urban areas continue to lose population, Central Ohio bucks the trend

Its time for your regularly scheduled growth update from The Dispatch: “Central Ohio continues to grow“. Feel like you’re having a bit of Deja Vu? That’s because you are.

July 2008: Columbus Grows, Rest of Ohio Shrinks
March 2008: Columbus Region Grows, Ohio Stalls
March 2008: Columbus Population Up, Rare in Ohio
December 2007: Ohio’s big cities trying to reinvent themselves
June 2007: Columbus leads Cincinnati in growth & development
March 2006: Columbus Grows While Rest of Ohio Shrinks

It’s good news for Columbus, but bad news for the state of Ohio as only one major population center thrives while the others decline. Is there anything that can be done to get Cincinnati, Cleveland, Toledo, Youngstown, Akron, Canton, and Dayon back on their feet?

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Americans are moving on up to smaller, smarter homes

clipped from www.usatoday.com
Sarah Susanka, photographed in her office addition, says Americans are embracing living smaller.
When architect Sarah Susanka remodeled her kitchen, she didn't use pricey granite or edgy concrete for her countertops. She used laminate. Her cabinets: Ikea.

"You can save thousands of dollars" by using simple materials in a well-designed space, says Susanka, author of the best-selling 1998 book The Not So Big House.

For more than a decade, she has urged people to build better, not bigger. Now, as the U.S. economy struggles to climb out of a tailspin and environmental concerns rise, her message has gone mainstream.

New homes, after doubling in size since 1960, are shrinking. Last year, for the first time in at least 10 years, the average square footage of single-family homes under construction fell dramatically, from 2,629 in the second quarter to 2,343 in the fourth quarter, Census data show.

The new motto: living well with less.

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Housing starts surge 22.2% in February; producer prices tame

clipped from www.usatoday.com
WASHINGTON (AP) — Housing construction posted a surprisingly large increase in February, bolstered by strength in all parts of the country except the West.

The Commerce Department reported Tuesday that construction of new homes and apartments jumped 22.2% in February compared with January, pushing total activity to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 583,000 units.

While the surge in housing construction was far better than the continued decline economists had expected, the housing industry still faces problems.

Even with the big increase, construction activity remains 47.3% below where it was a year ago. The strength in February was led by a big increase in apartment construction, which can be highly volatile from month to month.

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Monday, March 16, 2009

Neighborhood Launch: Developer doesn't shy away from putting up more condos, townhomes

clipped from www.dispatch.com
<p>A mix of architectural styles is one attraction of the Neighborhood Launch project, which is growing along Gay Street Downtown.</p>
When most condominium buyers have quickly fled to the sidelines, developer Jeff Edwards is
pondering an important question.

Should I build more townhomes or one-bedroom condos next?

Edwards Cos.' Neighborhood Launch project, which covers several city blocks east of the
intersection of 4th and Gay streets, is one of the exceptions to the recent condo downturn. The
neighborhood aspect of the project -- Downtown condos you don't need an elevator to reach -- is a
major selling point.

So, too, are the unique finishes and architecture, not to mention a temptingly low mortgage rate
and partial property-tax abatement. Edwards has nearly completed the first 47 units of the 300-unit
project and this spring will begin building the next phase.

The project is drawing star power, of sorts.

Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner and her husband bought two units and turned them into
one. Former Ohio State University football player Anthony Gonzalez owns a unit, too.

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Victorian’s Midnight Cafe’s Grand Re-Opening

Victorian’s Midnight Cafe has revamped their style and will be holding their Grand Re-Opening festivities from Friday April 3rd through Sunday April 5th.

Local band Rustmoth, will be debuting during the Grand opening festivities Friday evening. For a full schedule of events on the re-opening, click here.

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Sunday, March 15, 2009

Let value of home decide what to spend when selling

clipped from www.dispatch.com
Make your home a more pleasant place to live, and then you can profit from it when it's time to sell.

How much to spend on renovating depends on the value of your home.

Here's a rough guide of what you should do at various price points.

Home value: $250,000

Amount to lay out: $10,000 to $20,000

Cosmetic: Make minor improvements. Paint the front door and trim to make a great first impression.

Structural: If the roof has any flaws, fix them. Make sure there are no water marks on ceilings.

Landscaping: Trim down bushes near windows and fill in any bald spots.

Home value: $500,000

Amount to lay out: $20,000 to $50,000

Cosmetic: Paint everything. Paint and or refurbish doors and hardware on kitchen cabinets. Resurface floors and replace carpet if needed.

Structural: Go to a new development with homes more expensive than yours and see what the latest appliances are. Buy the least pricey one, like an oversized stainless-steel refrigerator.

Landscaping: Splurge a little more on the landscaping

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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Statehouse to Kickballers: Get Off Our Lawn

For the past few years, the Statehouse lawn has been home to the Capitol Crossroads downtown kickball league where office workers, young professionals, and downtown residents have all been able to converge and participate some friendly intramural activities.

But word has been handed down from the Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board (the organization that operates the Statehouse) that the kickballers are not going to be as welcome in 2009 as they once were. They felt that the grounds had been too trampled and want to see fewer games, fewer teams, and potentially a relocation of the playing area.

If you’ve got an opinion to voice, you can contact William E. Carleton, the Executive Director at the Statehouse at wcarleton@csrab.state.oh.us or 614-752-9777.
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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Restaurant Week With 42 Fixed Priced Meals!

Dine Originals Columbus's Inaugural Restaurant Week takes place March 9-15, 2009. More than 40 Dine Original member restaurants, from casual to fine dining, will participate. Each restaurant will prepare a special fixed-priced menu- some restaurants at $15 and some at $30 (excluding gratuity and tax). The menus will be unique and exciting. Reservations are strongly encouraged where applicable.

"Whether you want to try a new restaurant or treat yourself to an old favorite, Restaurant Week is a great opportunity for residents and visitors alike to sample the culinary skills of Columbus chefs," said Diane Warren, president of Dine Original Columbus.

"Independent restaurants define the culinary diversity and culture of a city and this is a wonderful way to showcase the varied and unique restaurants Columbus has to offer", added Warren who is also the owner of the popular Katzinger's Delicatessen.

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Thursday, March 5, 2009

Which Americans can qualify for housing help?

Two great questions. More questions and answers from USA Today here: http://www.usatoday.com/money/economy/housing/2009-03-04-housing-questions-answers_N.htm
clipped from www.usatoday.com

Q: How would that lower my payments?

A: Refinancing could reduce mortgage payments by thousands of dollars per year. For example, consider a family that took a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage of $207,000 with an interest rate of 6.50% on a house worth $260,000 at the time. Today, that family has $200,000 remaining on its mortgage, but the value of that home has fallen 15% to $221,000 — making them ineligible for today's low interest rates. Under the plan, that family could refinance to a rate near 5.16%. That would reduce their annual payments by over $2,300.

Q: What if I have a lot of other debt?

A: You can still qualify. Specifically, homeowners with total debt payments (which include car loans and credit card debt) equal to 55% or more of their income will be required to agree to enter a federally certified counseling program as a condition for a modification.

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Housing rescue plan 'should get ball rolling'

From USA Today..go to the article for much more information.

clipped from www.usatoday.com
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration Wednesday outlined details of a $75 billion housing rescue plan expected to help as many as 9 million American homeowners rework mortgages into more affordable monthly payments.

The program will apply to loans made on or before Jan. 1, 2009, and modifications will be allowed only once. Mortgages with a first loan of more than $729,750 do not qualify.


•Loan refinancing. Up to 5 million homeowners with a solid payment history on mortgages held or owned by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae will be eligible to refinance into more affordable terms.

People will be able to refinance even if they have less than 20% equity in their homes, and an appraisal may not be necessary.

•Loan modifications. Lenders and other servicers can immediately begin making modifications that could help up to 4 million at-risk homeowners stay in their properties.

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Monday, March 2, 2009

Barrio set to open Wednesday Downtown in the old Wendy's at Spring and High

The latest entry into the growing Downtown dining scene is Barrio, a Latin & Spanish influenced restaurant scheduled to open on Wednesday.

Barrio is located at the corner of Spring & High Streets in a building that formerly housed a Wendy’s restaurant. Over the past few months we’ve seen the exterior of the building slowly transform and look less and less like a fast food joint. And for as much as the exterior has changed, the interior has improved tenfold as well. Gone are the fluorescent lights and laminated particle board tables. Barrio has been redressed with deep colors and warm intimate lighting.

The staff at Barrio is busy with last minute preparations for the opening on Wednesday, but we were able to sneak in today to snap a few photos around them while they worked. Check em out.

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Weinland Park Development Plans Moving Forward

It’s almost spring and the happy sounds of economic development fill the air in Weinland Park.

The plans for the new Kroger at 7th and High are moving through the University Area Commission review board and the City permitting process. Pictured (PDF) is the most recent Kroger incarnation. The building will be sited where the parking lot is currently located.

The Columbus Coated Fabric site is about to have the concrete pads and foundations removed. The concrete will be ground back into aggregate for reuse. This phase will take about two months. Grant Ave will be closed again when the contractors start the grinding. There is some subsurface remediation that will take place at the same time. It remains to be seen whether the grinding will drown out the sounds of construction on the Jackson or vice versa.

Next stop, infrastructure.

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