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Disturbing data from the mortgage world, a new grass roots movement for affordable housing in California, and a Manhattan high-rise where you can park your car outside of your apartment’s front door. From the wild and woolly world of real estate, here are the hits and misses for this week.

Miss: A Double Ouch. The mortgage industry data from this week was nothing short of painful. Black Knight Inc. reported the average monthly principal and interest (P&I) payment for borrowers purchasing a home using a 30-year fixed-rate loan in July was $2,306 – that sum, which occurs before taxes and insurance are included, is a record-breaking average payment for P&I and a 60% ($871) increase over the past two years. Black Knight also reported that more than half of July purchase originations had a payment of more than $2,000 a month, up from just 18% two years ago, while nearly one-quarter (23%) had payments of more than $3,000 – up from 5% in 2021. Separately, the Mortgage Bankers Association reported that mortgage applications declined to the lowest level since December 1996, while the trade group’s purchase index dropped to a 28-year low. Here’s hoping that next week brings the mortgage world some more optimistic news.

Hit: Speaking Up for Affordable Housing. A thumbs up goes to Housing California’s Residents United Network (RUN), which is organizing residents of affordable housing and affordable housing-eligible Californians on a campaign to ensure federally funded Housing Choice Vouchers are easier to obtain and use in the Golden State. Roughly 300,000 low-income California households are currently leasing properties through the program, but RUN observed that tens of thousands of vouchers are left unused each year due to a myriad of problems including bureaucracy, excessive wait times and discrimination against voucher holders. Hopefully, this grass roots movement will bring order from chaos.

Miss: Goodbye, Norma Jean. One of the most bittersweet stories of the week involved the Los Angeles property that was the final home of Marilyn Monroe – the screen legend bought the residence in February 1962 and died there six months later at the age of 36. The 2,624-square-foot home was recently acquired for a sum estimated to be near $8.35 million, and the new owner filed paperwork with the city’s Department of Building and Safety for demolition. The property owner has the right to use or change the structure as they see fit – it is private property and was never opened to the public. Still, for Marilyn Monroe fans the news is unpleasant, especially in regard to the circumstances of her passing six decades ago.

Hit: Don’t Mess with Susan Sarandon. Another screen legend was in the real estate news. The Berkshire Eagle reported that Oscar-winner Susan Sarandon is suing the contractor hired to work on her 47-acre property in Stamford, Vermont, alleging shoddy workmanship and dubious billing that included charges for work that didn’t occur. Sarandon is seeking a jury trial and is accusing her contractor with breach of contract, fraudulent misrepresentation and unjust enrichment. In fairness, the contractor’s side of the story was not reported (and because of that, we’re not mentioning his name in this article). Still, the 76-year-old actress appears to be just as spirited and focused off-screen as she is in her films – and if her claims are upheld in court, then more power to her for calling sloppy work to task.

Hit: If You Can Afford It, Why Not? Anyone familiar with Manhattan will know that you’ll have more luck finding the Lost Continent of Atlantis than locating on-street parking. Thus, you have to admire real estate developer Young Woo, who paid $11 million for the condominium high-rise complex where he lives and installed a “Sky Garage” where the building’s specially designed car elevator can bring vehicles directly to private parking spaces outside owners’ apartments. The Wall Street Journal has an article on this one-in-a-million amenity – and, seriously, this is something that you have to see to believe. As longtime New York Post gossip columnist Cindy Adams is fond of saying: Only in New York, kids, only in New York.

Phil Hall is editor of Weekly Real Estate News. He can be reached at

Photo of Susan Sarandon in “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” courtesy 20th Century Fox