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Hospital network's failure led to massive hack

Written By limadu on Jumat, 22 Agustus 2014 | 14.44

heartbleed hospital

NEW YORK (CNNMoney)

The hackers took advantage of Heartbleed, the infamous defect in the way computers communicate securely with websites.

Community Health Systems' massive data breach could have been avoided.

There were widespread media reports and repeated warnings from cybersecurity professionals earlier in the year. But security researchers at TrustedSec say the hospital network did not update its systems to patch the bug soon enough.

TrustedSec CEO David Kennedy said a person involved in the investigation of the hack has confirmed that Heartbleed was the culprit.

Read up: Heartbleed 101

Juniper Network (JNPR) -- the hospital group's secure network provider, according to TrustedSec -- quickly patched its software for the Heartbleed bug. But it was up to the hospitals to patch their own systems.

"It's not surprising that Heartbleed was present in [the hospital network's] infrastructure," said Sam King, who oversees Veracode security products. "The question is: Why didn't they know about it or do something about it?"

Community Health Systems (CYH) declined to address the report to CNNMoney.

Related story: Why hospitals can't protect patient data

When you see a lock icon in your address bar, that's supposed to indicate that the conversation taking place between your computer and the Web server is secure. But the Heartbleed bug allowed attackers to bypass that encryption and spy on Internet traffic in real time.

That's what happened here, TrustedSec claims.

Medical personnel working from home logged into Community Health Systems' computers using a secure Virtual Private Network. But hackers attacked computer servers managing that network. The hackers gathered the medical professionals' usernames and passwords, later using them to log in and steal patient names, Social Security numbers and more from network-affiliated doctors' offices.

CNNMoney quiz: What hackers know about you

It's the first example of a major Heartbleed attack -- and it's unlikely to be the last. Heartbleed continues to affect gadgets everywhere: computer servers, network switches, even office phones. This makes Heartbleed a long-lasting problem.

Major companies are typically slow to update their systems -- even in critical situations -- because they lose track of their hardware.

"The problem with corporations is that they don't know where all their stuff is," said cybersecurity expert Robert Graham. "On any network, there's a lot of old devices, and as long as they're working, no one's touched them for years."

Still, the report that Heartbleed was at fault is aggravating, because it's an easy bug to catch. Free software like Masscan reviews entire networks for instances of the Heartbleed bug. And network monitoring services would spot if a hospital-affiliated doctor who usually works from home in Alabama suddenly connects from China -- where Community Health Systems said the hack emanated.

CNNMoney's cybersecurity Flipboard magazine: How safe are you?

"An organization like that should be watching what's leaving their network," said FlowTraq CEO Vincent Berk. "What doctor or nurse or administrative department needs access to 4.5 million records in a short period of time?"

First Published: August 21, 2014: 5:14 PM ET


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Comcast's latest location: on campus

comcast college streaming

NEW YORK (CNNMoney)

That's one of the theories behind Comcast (CCV)'s introduction of a streaming TV service on five college campuses this fall. The service supplements the old-fashioned way students who live in on-campus housing watch TV: by plugging a TV set into the dorm room cable pipe.

Comcast promoted the new option, which it calls "Xfinity On Campus," in a news release on Thursday, ahead of the fall semester. It will be included with resident students' room and board, just like traditional TV hook-ups have been, and will initially be available at the University of Delaware, Drexel University, Bridgewater College, Emerson College, and Lasell College.

Executives say they can rapidly expand the service to other campuses -- there are hundreds of colleges and universities in regions of the country where Comcast operates.

Comcast and other companies that provide cable TV on college campuses know they have to adapt to young peoples' changing media habits. In campus settings, especially, young people want to be able to watch TV shows on laptops and smartphones.

That's why "Xfinity On Campus" is partially seen as a response to subscription services from Netflix (NFLX, Tech30), Amazon (AMZN, Tech30) and Hulu. Those only let people watch on-demand TV, while Comcast's service includes an on-demand library plus a bundle of live TV channels, including ESPN, CNN, Comedy Central, MTV, and AMC.

Related: The future of media

Crucially, the Comcast service also extends at least partially off-campus: according to Comcast, students "can use their university credentials to authenticate and access online programming that's part of their subscription via TV Everywhere websites and apps such as WatchESPN and FXNOW."

Comcast's service might also be a response to password-sharing, which has been a concern for the owners of channels like ESPN that have popular apps.

Down the line, Comcast will add a recording function to the on-campus streaming service, so users can record live TV and watch it later via the cloud.

A few years ago a startup called Tivli -- now called Philo -- started to test a streaming TV service at Harvard and a handful of other campuses. Its product works on top of a university's existing cable provider.

First Published: August 21, 2014: 5:26 PM ET


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The crazy flavor experiments in Chinese fast food

hong kong pizza hut Pizza Hut in Hong Kong serves a crayfish pizza that's designed to appeal to local tastes.

HONG KONG (CNNMoney)

Sound strange? Not if you're in China, where these Frankenstein foods are being served up by American fast food chains hoping to dominate foreign markets by catering to local tastes.

The experimentation is endless: Pizza Hut offers Thousand Island seafood pizzas, McDonald's (MCD) serves soy milk and fried dough strips for breakfast, Dairy Queen scoops out wasabi ice cream and Starbucks (SBUX) sells red bean green tea Frappuccinos.

Burger King (BKW), Dunkin' Donuts, Starbucks, Papa John's (PZZA), McDonald's, Pizza Hut and KFC are all competing for a bigger slice of China's $100 billion fast food market.

There's just one problem: double cheeseburgers and pepperoni pizzas aren't exactly typical Chinese cuisine. As a result, the chains are constantly looking for ways to appeal to the local population, while keeping signature items on the menu.

Related: 8 of the world's craziest fast food items

"The trick is, they want to keep as much of their DNA as possible in terms of having core menu items that are recognizable in any market, but also figuring out what the hero products for the specific market are going to be," said Ben Cavender of China Market Research.

McDonald's in Hong Kong, for example, serves noodles, fresh corn and lychee punch. KFC offers rice with its fried chicken meals.

"When we introduce the rice option, we still use a Western flavor ... [such as] mushroom or Chicken a la King," said Alan Chan, CEO of Birdland, the private company that runs KFC franchises in Hong Kong. "We still want to keep the identity of predominantly Western-style fast food."

It's not only the menu that is different in China. The fast food chains are also going upmarket in an effort to stand out in the crowded restaurant industry.

Pizza Hut offers lobster bisque and mussels stewed in white wine. The restaurant is a popular spot for teenagers to spend a romantic evening.

These are "nicely-decorated sit down restaurants," Cavender said. "In most cases, people going tend to be white collar -- comparatively speaking, these restaurants are still quite expensive compared to a street corner noodle shop."

Dreaming up the right items for the local market is not easy, and can take as long as 18 months from concept to plate, said Richard Leong, CEO of Pizza Hut in Hong Kong.

Related: Supercombos and 'Big Slabs:' 9 unhealthiest restaurant meals

Leong introduces new products about eight times a year. Everything from cheese fondue pots to a pizza crust stuffed with fish roe and salmon cream cheese have made the menu -- but he did once veto squid ink flambé pizza.

Even regional preferences can vary. Leong says what works in Hong Kong might not work in other parts of China.

"Every year, we still have to crack our heads -- we're like fashion designers," said Leong. "We have to sit and think about the next thing we have to do."

First Published: August 21, 2014: 10:18 PM ET


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Argentina has had it with U.S. bond laws

Written By limadu on Kamis, 21 Agustus 2014 | 14.44

NEW YORK (CNNMoney)

The country is in default again on some of its debt. Negotiations with several hedge funds over debt repayments broke down so badly in July that Argentina is actually trying to change the laws overseeing its bond contracts.

President Cristina Kirchner submitted a bill Tuesday to Argentina's congress that would take the bonds in contention and put them under the Argentine judicial system. At the moment, many of the bonds fall under the U.S. legal code, where various court orders have hamstrung Argentina's options.

It's uncertain whether the jurisdiction switch is feasible, but Argentina continues to fight the hedge funds.

Related: Get caught up on Argentina's debt crisis

The ordeal all goes back to 2001 when Argentina initially defaulted. Many of its bondholders (92%), fearing they wouldn't get much, if anything, accepted a lower repayment. But a small group of other bondholders, led by hedge funds Elliott Management and Aurelius Capital Management, held out for full payment.

Until this year, Argentina refused to pay or even talk to the "holdouts."

The holdouts sued Argentina more than a decade ago and won a federal court ruling in 2012 that said Argentina had to pay up. Argentina then took the case to the Supreme Court, which decided in June to agree with the earlier ruling and effectively force negotiations with the holdouts.

Complicating matters, the 92% of bondholders who took the low pay deal have a clause in their contracts that say the holdouts can't get a better deal than them until the clause expires next year.

Argentina's talks with the holdouts went nowhere, breaking down again last week. Capital Economics predicts things are struck, possibly until President Kirchner's term expires. In 2016.

Related: At least one hedge fund is betting Argentina will be just fine

The South American nation has slipped into recession.

"If local government and corporate bond yields drop back as a result of the government's bond swap, damage to the real economy -- which is already very weak -- may be limited," wrote research firm Capital Economics in a note to clients.

The country's volatile Merval stock market index, though off nearly 1.4% today, is still up 62% for the year. Bond prices for debt due in 2033, however, have fallen.

First Published: August 20, 2014: 5:40 PM ET


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Bank of America nears record settlement

bofa bank fines

NEW YORK (CNNMoney)

The agreement, to be announced as soon as Thursday, would settle a probe by the Justice Department and a group of states related to banking practices dating to the financial crisis, according to a person familiar with the deal.

The government accused the bank of misleading the buyers of mortgage-backed securities about the quality of the loans.

The settlement includes payments by the bank for penalties as well as relief for homeowners.

It's a large sum, even for the large bank: it made just over $17 billion in profits from 2011 to 2013 -- and about $2 billion more in the past six months.

Bank of America representatives declined to comment Wednesday.

Related: Settlements bite into BofA profits

Attorney General Eric Holder and Bank of America (BAC) CEO Brian Moynihan reached the main terms of the agreement in a telephone call in late July.

To move along the negotiations, the Justice Department had threatened to file a lawsuit against the bank. Paul Fishman, the U.S. Attorney in New Jersey, has led a civil probe of the mortgage business of Merrill Lynch, which Bank of America acquired in 2009.

Bank of America assumed Merrill's obligations in the merger but recently argued it shouldn't have to pay for shoddy practices before it became a unit of BofA.

The settlement comes after the bank agreed to pay $6.3 billion to settle four mortgage-related suits filed by the Federal Housing Finance Authority. The FHFA has overseen Fannie Mae (FNMA)and Freddie Mac (FMCC), the government-backed housing finance firms.

The deal would eclipse the $13 billion settlement stemming from a similar probe by the Justice Department and states against JP Morgan (JPM) last year.

--CNNMoney's Melvin Backman contributed to this report.

First Published: August 20, 2014: 5:14 PM ET


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Die in this state and your heirs get your online accounts

inherited social media In Delaware, heirs can now inherit the online accounts of someone who passes away.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney)

But this month, Delaware became the first state to pass a broad law giving heirs the right to access online accounts and digital assets of someone who has passed away.

Under the new law, which went into effect last week, the executor of the estate has access to their "digital assets such as email, cloud storage, social media accounts, health records, content licenses, databases and more," according to a statement from the Delaware House Democrats.

Related: Grieving parents hit with $200,000 in student loans

While this statewide mandate is the first of its kind, several other states have been taking steps in this direction as well, introducing limited laws. Connecticut and Rhode Island give executors access to email accounts of the deceased, for example.

Some national companies, like Google (GOOG), already offer the option of a beneficiary to all users -- no matter where they live. With Google's Gmail, users can assign a beneficiary, and if the account is inactive for a pre-determined period, they will be contacted by Google.

If there's no response, the beneficiary will be able to log into the account -- whether to dig up important emails or just to shut down the account. Users can even set an auto-reply message that will be sent out to friends after their death.

Without a beneficiary, heirs could be in for a long and complicated battle to retrieve the accounts -- and in many cases may never gain access to them.

Related: Can you inherit your dead parent's debts?

"If you need access to the Gmail account content of an individual who has passed away, in rare cases we may be able to provide the contents of the Gmail account to an authorized representative of the deceased person," Google says on its support page.

The process, which could take months, involves sending personal information about the deceased person and a death certificate, among other things.

Twitter (TWTR, Tech30), meanwhile, allows an executor or someone who can be verified as an immediate family member to deactivate an account -- but a death certificate, along with other information, must also be sent.

But if other states follow in Delaware's footsteps, more family members and friends no longer have to navigate the patchwork of corporate rules in the wake of a loved one's death.

"As we conduct more of our professional and personal business online, we must also change our laws to match the reality of how people live in the 21st Century," Delaware Governor Jack Markell said in a statement.

Not everyone agrees, however. Jim Halpert, who works at law firm DLA Piper and is general counsel to State Privacy and Security Coalition, which represents companies like Google, Facebook (FB, Tech30) and Yahoo (YAHOF), said Delaware's new law goes too far.

He said it violates the privacy of both the deceased and any third parties whose personal information could be revealed through inherited online accounts.

"There could be pretty confidential information in those accounts," said Halpert. "The law provides maximum convenience to the executor to an estate without regard to the privacy interests of people who communicated with the person who passes away."

First Published: August 20, 2014: 5:33 PM ET


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The babysitter costs HOW much?

Written By limadu on Rabu, 20 Agustus 2014 | 14.45

NEW YORK (CNNMoney)

This dream can be a reality thanks to high-end babysitting services in New York City, but it comes at a price -- up to $33 an hour.

That's more than twice the rate NYC parents typically shell out for sitters. And it's a far cry from the paid-in-pizza, put-the-kids-in-front-of-a-TV approach many suburban families are used to.

Sitters Studio, a network of more than 100 caretakers in New York and Chicago, charges about $25 for one child, and the rate goes up depending on how many kids are at home. There's also a $20 booking fee each time a parent reserves a sitter and a four-hour minimum.

That means for one night out, a one-child family would pay $120.

Kristina Wilson, Sitters Studio's CEO, said that while the cost is high, parents are getting a lot for their money. All their sitters are required to show up ten minutes early with a tote bag filled with "artistic toys," abide by a no-TV policy, and they are required to make sure all homework and household tasks are complete.

Plus, because the company doesn't pay sitters in cash, the service is able to provide families with full documentation of what they paid. This means they can apply for Child and Dependent Care credit on federal tax returns.

Related: 'The most surprising cost of raising my kid'

"On top of the picking children up from school and mealtime, the kids will get a unique artistic experience every time," she said. "If our sitter works with a child to come up with a ballet or a piece of art made out of recycled materials, at the end of the night, they will fill out a report card to let the parent know what they created and how it helped with self-esteem and general creative thinking."

A number of babysitting services have cropped up to capitalize on the high price parents are willing to pay.

Hamptons Babysitters, established to cater to vacationing families in the famed, ritzy beach towns on New York's Long Island, sets parents up with CPR-certified sitters who are 18 and over, have passed background checks, and are guaranteed to show up on time.

"We usually get families who maybe don't have their nannies or usual sitters out at the beach, but want to be able to go out and leave their children with a sitter they can trust," said Chloe Laundrie, a 22-year-old Hamptons Babysitter who just graduated college with a degree in elementary education. She is now running the service's business end as well.

There's a three-hour minimum, and the service charges $25 an hour for one child, and $33 for three. On top of this, there's a $25 booking fee.

Related: Kumbay-OMG! A $16,000 price tag for summer camp

These rates are shockingly high, even given the fact that babysitters in New York are ranked the most expensive in the country.

The average hourly rate for one child in New York is $15.34, according to a survey of 7,500 families conducted by UrbanSitter. That's $1.21 more per hour than the national average, and even beats out babysitter rates in other big cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles. D.C. and Boston.

By comparison, the national average hourly pay for preschool teachers is $15.11, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics -- and that's for teaching a whole class. And of course, the federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour.

Related: How much will it cost to raise your child?

Laundrie said that parents don't seem to mind the cost.

"I hear moms say they can't put a price on childcare," she said. "Even though the [rates] are a little bit higher, they understand most of the time."

First Published: August 19, 2014: 6:05 PM ET


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School-hopping alumni aren't giving back to colleges

percentage alumni donation

NEW YORK (CNNMoney)

"I had a really great first year at American," said Gunaseharan, who is 24. "But I've seen a very clear return as a result of my degree from Cornell. So I absolutely feel the tension about who to give to."

Universities and colleges are feeling the pressure, too.

Today, nearly a quarter of students who earn degrees finish somewhere other than where they started, according to the National Student Clearinghouse. And as more students jump from school to school, colleges say it's getting harder to solicit all-important alumni donations.

"What motivates alumni to give is a sense of loyalty, an indebtedness that 'I am who I am because of my education,'" said Shaun Keister, vice chancellor for alumni relations at the University of California, Davis. "What we don't know from this generation that jumps around a lot is: Are they ever going to have that warm and fuzzy feeling for the campus?"

Related: Chinese students found cheating to get into U.S. universities

While total contributions to colleges and universities were up last year, the percentage of alumni who are actually giving is shrinking, according to the nonprofit Council for Aid to Education. In 2003, 13% of alumni gave to their schools. Last year, just 9% did.

And that's what's keeping alumni directors up at night.

The participation rates keep falling "even though we have more sophisticated programs, bigger programs, more options" -- like social media -- to help encourage giving, said Brian Kish, senior vice president for central development at the University of Arizona Foundation.

Alumni executives and consultants say the transfer phenomenon is partly to blame.

"So let's say you went to three different places undergrad, and then to grad school — because we have more people going to grad school, too. Now you've been to four schools. Where's your love? Where's your affinity? Where's your passion?," asked Kish.

Related: Are in-state students getting squeezed out of public universities?

The problem isn't likely to affect elite universities and colleges, whose students almost always graduate on time, and rarely transfer, said Chris Marshall, vice president for alumni relations practice at the consulting firm Grenzebach Glier and Associates. But for mid- and lower-tier schools, where most of the transfers occur it's "going to be hard to engage if they don't have that four-year experience with some continuity," he said.

And alumni who do give seem to support the universities or colleges from which they ultimately graduate.

Another source of worry: Community colleges, where many students start their college careers these days, are also beginning to go after financial contributions from alumni.

"It's one more organization coming after the same pool of people," Keister said.

Related: Starbucks, Wal-Mart offer classes -- for college credit

Yet, many university and college alumni offices have failed to reach out to students who transfer in from community colleges while they're still enrolled, as they often do with conventional freshmen.

Now more schools are beginning to do this, beginning at the orientations they require transfer students to attend.

"You have the undivided attention of students two times. Once during orientation and again at their graduation ceremony. Otherwise, good luck," said Keister.

Gunaseharan, meanwhile, is mulling the requests for money she's received from Cornell and American — which has another pull on her because her mother went there — but she is putting them aside while she plans to go to graduate school.

"I'm not really in a position to be giving loads to any of my alma maters," she said. "I'm still saving money for the next degree."

First Published: August 19, 2014: 8:50 PM ET


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Stylist gives free haircuts to the homeless

homeless haircuts Mark Bustos spends his free time giving haircuts to the homeless.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney)

Bustos works at Three Squares Studio in the New York City neighborhood of Chelsea, where prices for his services start at $150 and can run as high as $800 for certain straightening or color treatments.

But whenever he can, he packs up his scissors, combs, styling products and rechargeable buzzer and goes out on the streets of New York to give free haircuts to homeless men and women.

On Sunday he started out on the Bowery in lower Manhattan where he found "Red," an older man whose nickname comes from the bright red gloves he wears in the winter. Red is a fixture in the area, always sitting on the same wooden stool, and Bustos has cut his hair several times.

Related: America's homeless - the rise of Tent City, USA

After the two chatted a bit, Red sat down on his stool and Bustos got to work. A line of other men formed as Bustos whittled Red's wispy, white hair and trimmed his eyebrows. When Bustos finished, Red smiled, dragged his wooden stool back to its original spot and began feeding stale crusts of bread to a flock of pigeons. Red said he doesn't care about his looks anymore, but the haircuts make him feel "cleaner."

While most of the people on the street who receive haircuts are homeless, not everyone is, and Bustos isn't sure about the situations of some, like Red.

Next up was 56-year-old Ray, who has been homeless for eight years as a result of a drug addiction. Ray said he was seeing his 11-year-old daughter that evening, and wanted to look put together for the visit. He carried over a milk crate to sit on, and after Bustos finished buzzing his head and grooming his goatee, Ray gave high fives to his friends. He then gave Bustos a big hug, calling him his "angel."

"When someone comes along and gives you something you never get, it's just nice," said Ray. "It makes me wanna cry."

Third in line was James. After getting his hair shaved, he said he finally felt confident enough to go out and apply for jobs.

Passersby stopped to ask questions, snap pictures and commend Bustos. One person was a barber who said he'd be interested in helping the homeless, too. And that's exactly why Bustos sets up in such public spaces -- to inspire people to use their own passions to help those in need.

Related: Hungry, tired and stressed out: The stresses of the poor

For Bustos, now 30, it all started in 2012. While visiting family in the Philippines, he decided to host an event where he gave free haircuts to needy children at a local barbershop.

"It made such a strong positive impact on me that I decided to bring it back home to NYC," said Bustos.

Since then, Bustos estimates he's cut the hair of more than 50 homeless people -- not just in New York, but also in places like Costa Rica, Jamaica and Los Angeles.

Most homeless people prefer simple buzz cuts because they don't know when they'll be able to get a haircut again and are often trying to get jobs. A more edgy cut, like a Mohawk, won't necessarily help the job search -- and would be much harder to maintain.

Bustos looks for homeless people living on the streets rather than in shelters, because they often need an extra "jump start." People in shelters, he says, have at least taken the initial step of getting a roof over their heads.

"I approach individuals on the street or parks and tell them the purpose of what I do," he says. "Cutting their hair becomes a lot like a therapy session and not just a haircut."

Related: 'Illegal to be homeless' in growing number of cities

The first homeless person in New York that he gave a haircut to looked in the mirror after Bustos was finished and said, "Do you know anyone who is hiring?" Other people are so shocked after looking in the mirror they can't even speak.

"I make a point to ask every person how the haircut makes them feel, and 90% say it gives them more confidence," Bustos said.

Another time he found a man in Long Beach, Calif., sitting under a tree. The man told Bustos he had just gotten out of prison, where he had spent 10 years.

"I asked him what he was sent to prison for, and he said 'kidnapping and robbery.' Then there was just this awkward silence. It was the longest 10 seconds of my life, because what do you say to that?" said Bustos. "But everyone deserves a second chance."

He sees many of the same people over and over again, and hasn't heard any success stories yet. But that doesn't stop him from being optimistic. "A lot of them are still on the streets, but I have hope for them -- like James, I have hope that James will find a job tomorrow," he said.

First Published: August 19, 2014: 8:17 PM ET


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In some housing markets, all-cash deals still rule

Written By limadu on Selasa, 19 Agustus 2014 | 14.44

institutional home buyers All-cash deals made up 38% of all home sales in the second quarter, according to RealtyTrac.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney)

All-cash deals made up 38% of all home sales in the second quarter, according to RealtyTrac, down from 42% in the prior quarter.

One reason is that big institutional buyers, those buying at least 10 homes a year, are finding fewer deals.

They accounted for 4.7% of all homes sold, down from a peak of 6% in 2013.

Related: Best cities for Millennial buyers

As the housing market recovered, these investors were buying up homes in deeply troubled markets, like Phoenix and Las Vegas.

Those bulk buys helped to reverse the slide in home prices.

But now, home prices are up more than 20% from their 2012 lows.

This has created a "classic good news/bad news scenario" for the housing market, said Daren Blomquist, a spokesman for RealtyTrac.

Related: Most stressed out cities

The good news is that first-time homebuyers have more of a shot. The bad news is that some of them may already be "priced out of the market," said Blomquist.

Cash buyers are much more attractive to sellers because they know the investors are able to act quickly and that the sale will almost certainly go through.

There are still plenty of markets where cash rules.

Calculator: Was my home a good investment?

In Las Vegas, a recent spike in defaults has sparked an increase in cash sales to more than 50% of all home sales. Detroit, Kansas City, Cleveland and Philadelphia all had at least 45% of sales in cash.

Cities attractive to foreign investors are also seeing a lot of cash exchange hands. In the Miami metro area, with its huge demand from Latin Americans, a whopping 64% of sales were all cash. Other Florida cities like Orlando, Cape Coral, Sarasota and Tampa scored nearly as high. In New York, 48% of sales were cash.

First Published: August 19, 2014: 12:40 AM ET


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