News: Real Estate, Insurance, Economics. Mar. 27, 2014

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Table of Contents
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1) Risk of slide 'unforeseen'? Warnings go back decades | Local News | The Seattle Times

2) Official: Residents knew of 'high risk' of landslides

3) WATCH: Daring rescue as firefighters pluck construction worker from 5-alarm fire in residential building under construction in Houston – NY Daily News

4) 7 million deaths worldwide in 2012 due to air pollution, India among worst offs: WHO – Financial Express

5) Inadequate housing contributes to low health rankings

6) Old cloth ties blamed for London theater collapse

7) SoCal Harbors To Prep For Potential Tsunami Threat – CBS Los Angeles

8) Lawsuits filed over Charleston fire that killed 9 – TheInterMountain.com | News, Sports, Jobs, WV, Community Information – The Inter-Mountain

9) Eleven EU nations exceed air pollution ceilings – EEA | Reuters

10) State Fire Marshal Urges Caution with Home Medical Oxygen | TN.gov Newsroom

11) U.S. – The tech hub revolution: Silicon Valley and beyond – YouTube

12) Economy Heats Up in Lexington, But Apartment Sector Cools Down – Apartment Market Dynamics – YouTube

13) A Look at the Senior Housing Market with Bull Realty – YouTube

14) Finance in the Asian Century – YouTube

15) Yide Qiao: Reminbi Liberalization and China's Economic Challenges – YouTube

16) China's engine slows as leaders shift gears – YouTube

17) Chileans worry over string of 300 quakes in north – Houston Chronicle

18) Wastewater Plants Struggle with Flushable Wipes | RWL Water

19) Freddie Mac MiMi — National

20) New Jersey Herald – Cops: NJ school burned down by janitor's cigarette

21) Officials say fatal motel fire caused by discarded cigarette | NJ.com

22) Mortgage tax breaks trickle up, new study shows – Yahoo Finance

23) Latin American Herald Tribune – Nine Injured, Millions of Dollars in Losses in Guatemala Fire

24) GroundFloor completes real estate crowdfunding deals

25) Wanted: Employed 25- to 34-Year-Olds to Buy Houses – Businessweek

26) Fed rejects five banks' capital plans – Business – The Boston Globe

27) BofA to spend $9.3 billion in FHFA settlement

28) State allowed logging on plateau above slope | Local News | The Seattle Times

  1.    Risk of slide 'unforeseen'? Warnings go back decades | Local News | The Seattle Times

    Oh dear:

    TIMES WATCHDOG: While a Snohomish County official said the area hit by the mudslide "was considered very safe," the hillside's history of slides dates back more than 60 years. One expert says he was shocked when homebuilding was permitted after a big 2006 slide.

    Slides were so common there that it was called "Slide Hill."

    All those people who died should have been moved or not allowed to live there in the first place.

    Some people think that it should be "live there at your own risk"; but look at all the rescue work and other factors that come into play when a slide like that happens. It's crushing in so many ways.

    Add your comment.


  2.    Official: Residents knew of 'high risk' of landslides

    Armstrong, a real estate agent, said one thing the media have been reporting on was the presence of "pistol butt" trees on the bluff. Those are trees under which the ground has shifted, so their trunks grow out and then up, bending like the butt of a pistol.

    But in the rainy, wet Northwest "there are lots of places where the trees are growing up sideways," said Armstrong. The bluff that failed was "on the other side of the river from the houses, so they didn't think it was going to fall on their houses. They didn't think it was going to fill up the whole valley."

    "Our crews are up against an enormous challenge. It's like quicksand out there," Snohomish County Fire District 21 Chief Travis Hots said.

    Crews have to move extremely carefully as they work. "Some of my guys could only go 50 feet in five minutes," he said, because of the debris and danger of being sucked into the mud.

    FYI: Plenty of insurance companies won't write coverage in known slide areas.

    Add your comment.


  3.    WATCH: Daring rescue as firefighters pluck construction worker from 5-alarm fire in residential building under construction in Houston – NY Daily News

    Houston firefighters made a daring rescue of a construction worker trapped on an upper balcony of a under construction apartment complex as a raging fire nearly trapped the man.

    The helmeted worker stood on an upper floor balcony Tuesday as a 5-alarm fire engulfed the $50 million, 396-unit apartment complex at W. Dallas and Marconi Sts. in downtown Houston.

    He certainly remained remarkably calm.

    Add your comment.


  4.    7 million deaths worldwide in 2012 due to air pollution, India among worst offs: WHO – Financial Express

    New estimates released by the World Health Organisation on Tuesday state about 7 million people in the world died because of exposure to air pollution in 2012. This is an eighth of all deaths in the world.

    With a total of 5.9 million pollution-related deaths, low and middle income countries in Southeast Asia — including India — and countries in the Western pacific were the worst off.

    Most of the deaths are from indoor-cooking pollution.

    Add your comment.


  5.    Inadequate housing contributes to low health rankings

    Almost one out of five U.S. families live in housing with severe problems, such as overcrowding, insufficient cooking and bathing facilities or costs above 50% of family income, according to a new report measuring the nation's healthiest and least-healthy counties.

    "It sounds like it could be the 1800s or a Third World country," said Abbey Cofsky, senior program officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which partnered with the rankings program at the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. "But there are places in the United States where that is still an issue — something that so many of us take for granted."

    Add your comment.


  6.    Old cloth ties blamed for London theater collapse

    LONDON — Investigators say weakened, century-old cloth and plaster ties caused a partial ceiling collapse that injured almost 80 audience members at London's Apollo Theatre during a performance of "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime."

    Add your comment.


  7.    SoCal Harbors To Prep For Potential Tsunami Threat – CBS Los Angeles

    Five California harbors — including three here in the Southland — are preparing for future tsunamis under a new state project that arms them with maps that identify potential problem areas.

    The announcement comes days ahead of Tsunami Preparedness Week, which spans from March 23-29 and coincides with the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Alaska earthquake, in which 12 people were killed after a magnitude-9.2 quake in Alaska triggered tsunami waves.

    As a result of a typical tsunami and as you probably realize, the typical beach house and everything in it is a total loss.

    Add your comment.


  8.    Lawsuits filed over Charleston fire that killed 9 – TheInterMountain.com | News, Sports, Jobs, WV, Community Information – The Inter-Mountain

    Relatives of three victims have filed lawsuits over a house fire in Charleston that killed nine people in 2012.

    The lawsuits allege that Shamblin [the owner/landlord] failed to maintain smoke alarms and did nothing about recurring electrical problems.

    Was it an electrical fire?

    Add your comment.


  9.    Eleven EU nations exceed air pollution ceilings – EEA | Reuters

    Eleven European Union nations breached ceilings for air pollution in 2012 despite plans to avert health-damaging smog of the sort that choked Paris this month, the European Environment Agency (EEA) said on Monday.

    The number rose from 10 in 2011, with the addition of Malta to the list of states above national limits set for at least one of four pollutants from sources including industry and cars.

    Add your comment.


  10.    State Fire Marshal Urges Caution with Home Medical Oxygen | TN.gov Newsroom

    Landlords and managers should know this too. Inform your other tenants as well.

    The presence of portable, medical oxygen in Tennessee homes has grown over the past decade, and so has the need for education about the fire hazards associated with its use. Medical oxygen adds a higher percentage of oxygen to the air a patient breathes. If a fire starts in an oxygen-enriched area, the material affected will burn more quickly.

    The State Fire Marshal's Office offers the following safety tips for individuals who use medical oxygen: …

    It's a great list. You should read it. Click through.

    How about having fire extinguishers extremely handy, properly charged, and with everyone, tenants included, trained in their proper use?

    Smoke alarms aren't the only type that can be used. Fire alarms are helpful, especially centrally monitored. Consider sprinklers too.

    There are many other things that can be done to plan ahead to avoid and to handle emergencies. Do exhaustive research on the subject. Many improvements can positively impact insurance premiums too. They vary by jurisdiction and insurer (carrier).

    Add your comment.


  11.    U.S. – The tech hub revolution: Silicon Valley and beyond – YouTube

    Many cities would like to create a thriving tech scene but only some make the cut. Tech firms are looking for talent, the right real estate and the right culture to nurture their brand.

    Add your comment.


  12.    Economy Heats Up in Lexington, But Apartment Sector Cools Down – Apartment Market Dynamics – YouTube

    Solid job growth in Lexington did not translate to solid apartment demand in 2013. What happened? It could be a factor you might not expect to see in a college town like this one.

    Add your comment.


  13.    A Look at the Senior Housing Market with Bull Realty – YouTube

    The $270 billion seniors housing market exhibited remarkable resilience throughout the recession. The sector is poised for even more growth as 75 million baby boomers expand the market.

    Add your comment.


  14.    Finance in the Asian Century – YouTube

    Extreme optimism concerning China's financial and economic outlook:

    First it was manufacturing, now it's the financial system. Warren Hogan, ANZ chief economist, talks to the FT's Paul J Davies about the next stage of Asia's transformation of the world economy. He predicts that Asia will dominate the world's financial system within the next 30 years.

    Add your comment.


  15.    Yide Qiao: Reminbi Liberalization and China's Economic Challenges – YouTube

    This is a good follow-on to the immediately preceding video.

    The recent events in the Ukraine and Russia have exposed the fragility of emerging markets around the world. Yet, as important as these events are from a geopolitical perspective, looking at the global economy China is still what matters most because it has become such a locomotive for the emerging world.

    At the beginning of the year George Soros said that China's economy might be the crisis of 2014. This sentiment took hold in the financial markets, helping to trigger the break in emerging market currencies and stock markets in January and early February, which had a contagious effect on the global financial market as a whole.

    Today, it seems the risks that something will go wrong in China this year are slightly higher than they were when George Soros made his comments. The Chinese currency has suddenly weakened, which imperils the recent flow of speculative money and credit into China that has mushroomed in recent quarters. Though China has a mountain of foreign exchange reserves to cushion any change in capital flows, its fixed investment has become so debt dependent and reliant on foreign funding that a disruption or reversal in such capital flows would add to the squeeze on these debt dependent investment sectors in ways in which the authorities might not be able to readily compensate.

    So it is a particularly apt time to discuss the potential liberalization of the Chinese currency with Yide Qiao, head of the Shanghai Development Corporation. Qiao has devoted considerable thought to this issue and written extensively on the subjects of renminbi liberalization and China's overall reform efforts. In the interview below he explains many of the broad challenges facing by Beijing.

    Add your comment.</
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  16.    China's engine slows as leaders shift gears – YouTube

    A preliminary survey shows China's manufacturing sector slowing further, with domestic demand looking especially fragile as the country presses ahead with moves towards a more market-driven system.

    Add your comment.


  17.    Chileans worry over string of 300 quakes in north – Houston Chronicle

    "The situation is out of the ordinary. There's a mix of a string of tremors and their aftershocks that make things more complex to evaluate," Mario Pardo, deputy head of the Universidad de Chile seismology center, told the local newspaper La Tercera. "We can't rule out a larger quake."

    Chile is one of the world's most earthquake-prone countries. A magnitude-8.8 quake and ensuing tsunami in central Chile in 2010 killed more than 500 people, destroyed 220,000 homes, and washed away docks, riverfronts and seaside resorts.

    The strongest earthquake ever recorded on Earth also happened in Chile — a magnitude-9.5 tremor in 1960 that killed more than 5,000 people.

    Add your comment.


  18.    Wastewater Plants Struggle with Flushable Wipes | RWL Water

    These cloth-like items, intended to augment tissue paper or for tasks such as disinfecting hands or removing makeup, are causing pipe clogs and sewer overflows, as well as other problems from toilet to treatment.

    Disposable wipes are "a danger" to municipal wastewater treatment systems, say City of Pittsburg, Kansas, officials. One North Carolina city attributed a 21,000-gallon New Year's 2014 sewage spill to both grease and wipes in the system. A 15-ton, "bus-sized lump" consisting of grease and flushable wipes was discovered in the London, Kansas, system.

    Among the other items frequently found stuck in sewers are many never intended to be disposed of via flushing, such as condoms, feminine hygiene products, dental floss, cotton swabs, bandages, medicines, kitty litter — even food wastes and paint. Toilet systems were only intended to accommodate toilet paper and human waste.

    Add your comment.


  19.    Freddie Mac MiMi — National

    Each month the Freddie Mac Multi-Indicator Market Index (MiMi) provides housing data with local market context for lenders, real estate experts, analysts, economists, reporters, and other industry professionals.

    Add your comment.


  20.    New Jersey Herald – Cops: NJ school burned down by janitor's cigarette

    Police in central New Jersey say a custodian's cigarette is to blame for a fire that destroyed an elementary school.

    Police say the custodian, 48-year-old Jerome Higgins, tossed an unfinished cigarette into a trash can in the janitor's office Saturday evening, sparking a blaze that gutted the James Monroe Elementary School in Edison.

    Add your comment.


  21.    Officials say fatal motel fire caused by discarded cigarette | NJ.com

    A cigarette discarded in a stuffed chair touched off a fire that killed four people at a New Jersey shore motel last week, authorities said.

    Add your comment.


  22.    Mortgage tax breaks trickle up, new study shows – Yahoo Finance

    Federal tax benefits for homeowners primarily help wealthier people borrow more money to buy larger houses rather than boost homeownership, according to a new study.

    The ZIP Code-level analysis of Internal Revenue Service data, conducted by a team of economists for the right-leaning R Street Institute, examined how tax benefits are distributed across income levels and major metropolitan areas. The study estimates that tax preferences, particularly the mortgage-interest deduction, have helped drive up the size of houses by as much as 18% in the nation's most affluent areas while not broadly encouraging people to buy homes.

    It will be interesting to read the rebuttals.

    Add your comment.


  23.    Latin American Herald Tribune – Nine Injured, Millions of Dollars in Losses in Guatemala Fire

    A massive blaze on Tuesday in Guatemala City's largest market left nine people injured and caused an estimated $90 million in damage, Guatemalan authorities said.

    Add your comment.


  24.    GroundFloor completes real estate crowdfunding deals

    GroundFloor is opening up real estate investing to the masses through crowdfunding. Anybody in Georgia can get in on the action, thanks to state laws there, and the Brian Dally, the company's co-founder, hopes to bring the model to other states as well.

    As with any business, it will be as good as management. Do your due diligence.

    Add your comment.


  25.    Wanted: Employed 25- to 34-Year-Olds to Buy Houses – Businessweek

    Not only are there fewer people in the age group; the cohort just isn't that into houses.

    They also have higher student debts.

    Add your comment.


  26.    Fed rejects five banks' capital plans – Business – The Boston Globe

    Citigroup and two banks with substantial Massachusetts operations, Santander and RBS Citizens, are facing questions about their ability to ride out another calamity in the financial markets.

    The Federal Reserve said Wednesday the banks, plus British giant HSBC and Zions Bank, need to resubmit their proposals to pay billions of dollars to shareholders after officials said they found weaknesses in their capital plans.

    It's good to see that the Fed is more serious now about oversight and regulation. Let's hope they don't let their guard down.

    Add your comment.


  27.    BofA to spend $9.3 billion in FHFA settlement

    Bank of America will spend $9.33 billion to resolve a dispute over mortgage securities with the Federal Housing Finance Agency, the regulator that oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

    The agency sued 18 financial institutions in 2011 over their sales of mortgage securities to Fannie and Freddie. It alleges many banks falsely represented the mortgage loans behind the securities. These soured after the housing bubble burst and lost billions in value.

    Add your comment.


  28.    State allowed logging on plateau above slope | Local News | The Seattle Times

    The plateau above the soggy hillside that gave way Saturday has been logged for almost a century, with hundreds of acres of softwoods cut and hauled away, according to state records.

    But in recent decades, as the slope has become more unstable, scientists have increasingly challenged the timber harvests, with some even warning of possible calamity.

    The state has continued to allow logging on the plateau, although it has imposed restrictions at least twice since the 1980s. The remnant of one clear-cut operation is visible in aerial photographs of Saturday's monstrous mudslide. A triangle — 7½ acres, the shape of a pie slice — can be seen atop the destruction, its tip just cutting into where the hill collapsed.

    Multiple factors can contribute to a slide.

    With the hill that caved in over the weekend, geologists have pointed to the Stillaguamish River's erosion of the hill's base, or toe.

    But logging can also play a role in instigating or intensifying a slide, by increasing the amount of water seeping into an unstable zone, according to an analysis of the watershed submitted to the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

    Add your comment.


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