Konarka uses this blue chamber to test solar panels. It re-creates light conditions at noon at the equator. Chris Arnold/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Chris Arnold/NPR

Songwriter Jonathan Downing and his wife, Tiffany Sewell, bought a house that still needs some work in Boston's Jamaica Plain neighborhood. The combination of record low interest rates, lower prices, and a tax credit for first-time homebuyers is creating incentives for some people to take the plunge into homeownership. Chris Arnold/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Chris Arnold/NPR

Bruce Marks (left), CEO of the nonprofit organization Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America, talks to homeowners waiting to meet with bank representatives at a NACA event in Los Angeles in September. Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images