Number Crunch: May 2008

What do 50,000 beer cans and home building have in common? Read on to find out.
By By Jennifer Powell, Staff Writer | April 30, 2008

The New York Times reported on a house that is covered in more than 50,000 empty cans of beer. It's known, of course, as the Beer Can House. According to the Times, from 1968 until his death, John Milkovisch cladded his house and workshop with flattened beer cans. Take one down, pass it around ...


Pulte Homes and Centex Homes bought land in Rancho Cordova, Calif., for $50 million in 2004 and supposedly pumped another $30 million into the property. They sold it to land developers for 16 cents on the dollar, or the deeply discounted price of $8 million, the Sacramento Business Journal reported.


Reverse mortgages are a $20-billion-a-year industry, with older homeowners taking out 132,000 of these loans in 2007 — an increase of 270 percent from two years earlier. Hundreds of seniors or retired persons who have sought reverse mortgages have complained — in lawsuits, surveys and conversations with elder-care advocates — about high-pressure or unethical sales tactics they say steered them toward loans with very high fees, The New York Times reported.


Life is expensive, and many Americans struggle to make ends meet. But it's not the people you think who are in this position: one-third of Americans earning more than $75,000 a year — a more than decent wage in most parts of the country — say they live paycheck to paycheck, according to MarketWatch. No wonder we're stressed.


Stephen Melman, NAHB's director of economic services, cites NAHB statistics to The Wall Street Journal showing that 70 percent of American homeowners now enter their homes mainly through their garages, so they want those garages to look more like entrances than dumps.

$610 million

In early March, Thornburg Mortgage, the second-largest independent mortgage lender in the U.S., reported that its survival was at stake because it was unable to meet $610 million of margin calls.

$22 million

Cahuenga Peak, the land next to the famous Hollywood sign, is up for sale for a whopping $22 million. Fox River Financial Resources acquired the mountaintop in 2002 from the estate of Howard Hughes for almost $1.68 million, the LA Times reported. The 138-acre property is zoned for five luxury homes.

90 years

Orleans Homebuilders celebrates 90 years and three generations of leadership this year. Over the course of those years, the company has built more than 85,000 homes. Happy 90th!