News: Real Estate, Risk, Economics. Apr. 5-7, 2014

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Table of Contents
(Click to sections below.)

1) BLS: THE EMPLOYMENT SITUATION — MARCH 2014

2) One For the Doves – Tim Duy's Fed Watch

3) BBC News – Will quantitative easing in the eurozone continue the era of cheap money?

4) Asia City Centres Shifting as Rents Rise and Infrastructure Improves | Mingtiandi

5) Are Real Estate Brokers Obsolete? – Forbes

6) Viewpoint: What to watch in the Boston real estate market in 2014 – Boston Business Journal

7) So many housing market questions, so little housing data – The Globe and Mail

8) Zillow: Portland home prices pushing historical limits of affordability | OregonLive com

9) Forecast: Dallas-Fort Worth home prices are heading higher | Dallas Morning News

10) 40 years ago: "Super Outbreak" of tornados

11) 3 flood-prone Marshall Co. homes to be demolished | The Herald-Dispatch

12) PG&E Charged by U.S. Over Fatal 2010 Pipeline Explosion – Businessweek

13) Kozy Heat recalls gas fireplaces after explosions – Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal

14) Women emphasize financial independence at commercial real estate meeting | Wichita Eagle

15) Nest disables feature on smoke alarms – The Washington Post

16) Zillow: one-third of homes 'unaffordable' in Seattle | NWCN.com Washington – Oregon – Idaho

17) Fatal Back Bay fire ignited by welders working in rear of building, official says – Metro – The Boston Globe

18) Three Children Die in Fire – PAHomepage com

19) E-cigs' liquid nicotine causing poisonings – CNN com

20) Springfield home prices up, foreclosure rates down | www springfieldnewssun com

21) Dr. Jed Kolko Offers Trulia's Real Estate Recap For March 2014 – CBS Boston

22) Cold sales: Housing market cools off in March, as expected | The Poughkeepsie Journal | poughkeepsiejournal com

23) Realtor: Housing market 'very competitive' in area | La Crosse — WKBT News8000 com

24) [Recommended] America's Biggest Metros Are Growing Much Faster Than Other Cities – Richard Florida – The Atlantic Cities

25) Demolition begins in flood-racked Onion Creek neighborhoods | www mystatesman com

26) Soaring Housing Costs Driving Educated People From Big Cities – Real Time Economics – WSJ

27) As Fannie and Freddie boost earnings, critics say their fees are excessive and damaging – The Washington Post

28) Bitcoin | Bapple Real Estate

29) Withstanding Great Recession like China – Working Papers – St. Louis Fed

30) RealtyTrac purges property listings of sex offender, drug lab data | Inman News

  1.    BLS: THE EMPLOYMENT SITUATION — MARCH 2014

    Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 192,000 in March, and the unemployment rate was unchanged at 6.7 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Employment grew in professional and business services, in health care, and in mining and logging.

    Household Survey Data

    In March, the number of unemployed persons was essentially unchanged at 10.5 million, and the unemployment rate held at 6.7 percent. Both measures have shown little movement since December 2013. Over the year, the number of unemployed persons and the unemployment rate were down by 1.2 million and 0.8 percentage point, respectively. (See table A-1.)

    Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rate for adult women increased to 6.2 percent in March, and the rate for adult men decreased to 6.2 percent. The rates for teenagers (20.9 percent), whites (5.8 percent), blacks (12.4 percent), and Hispanics (7.9 percent) showed little or no change. The jobless rate for Asians was 5.4 percent (not seasonally adjusted), little changed from a year earlier. (See tables A-1, A-2, and A-3.)

    The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more), at 3.7 million, changed little in March; these individuals accounted for 35.8 percent of the unemployed. The number of long-term unemployed was down by 837,000 over the year. (See table A-12.)

    Both the civilian labor force and total employment increased in March. The labor force participation rate (63.2 percent) and the employment-population ratio (58.9 percent) changed little over the month. (See table A-1.) The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) was little changed at 7.4 million in March. These individuals were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find full-time work. (See table A-8.)

    In March, 2.2 milli on persons were marginally attached to the labor force, little changed from a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) These individuals were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey. (See table A-16.)

    Among the marginally attached, there were 698,000 discouraged workers in March, down slightly from a year earlier. (These data are not seasonally adjusted.) Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them. The remaining 1.5 million persons marginally attached to the labor force in March had not searched for work for reasons such as school attendance or family responsibilities. (See table A-16.)

    Establishment Survey Data

    Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 192,000 in March. Job growth averaged 183,000 per month over the prior 12 months. In March, employment grew in professional and business services, in health care, and in mining and logging. (See table B-1.)

    Professional and business services added 57,000 jobs in March, in line with its average monthly gain of 56,000 over the prior 12 months. Within the industry, employment increased in March in temporary help services (+29,000), in computer systems design and related services (+6,000), and in architectural and engineering services (+5,000).

    In March, health care added 19,000 jobs. Employment in ambulatory health care services rose by 20,000, with a gain of 9,000 jobs in home health care services. Nursing care facilities lost 5,000 jobs over the month. Job growth in health care averaged 17,000 per month over the prior 12 months.

    Employment in mining and logging rose in March (+7,000), with the bulk of the increase occurring in support activities for mining (+5,000). Over the prior 12 months, the mining and logging industry added an average of 3,000 jobs per month.

    Employment continued to trend up in March in food services and drinking places (+30,000). Over the past year, food services and drinking places has added 323,000 jobs.

    Construction employment continued to trend up in March (+19,000). Over the past year, construction employment has risen by 151,000.

    Employment in government was unchanged in March. A decline of 9,000 jobs in federal government was mostly offset by an increase of 8,000 jobs in local government, excluding education. Over the past year, employment in federal government has fallen by 85,000.

    Employment in other major industries, including manufacturing, wholesale trade, retail trade, transportation and warehousing, information, and financial activities, changed little over the month.

    The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by 0.2 hour in March to 34.5 hours, offsetting a net decline over the prior 3 months. The manufacturing workweek rose by 0.3 hour in March to 41.1 hours, and factory overtime rose by 0.1 hour to 3.5 hours. The average workweek for production and nonsupervisory employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by 0.3 hour to 33.7 hours. (See tables B-2 and B-7.)

    In March, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls edged down by 1 cent to $24.30, following a 9 cent increase in February. Over the year, average hourly earnings have risen by 49 cents, or 2.1 percent. In March, average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees edged down by 2 cents to $20.47. (See tables B-3 and B-8.)

    The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for January was revised from +129,000 to +144,000, and the change for February was revised from +175,000 to +197,000. With these revisions, employment gains in January and February were 37,000 higher than previously reported.

    The Employment Situation for April is scheduled to be released on Friday, May 2, 2014,
    at 8:30 a.m. (EDT).

    We need to do better.

    Add your comment.


  2.    One For the Doves – Tim Duy's Fed Watch

    Tim Duy:

    I would say that on average, this report fits nicely with the view outlined by Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen earlier this week. The labor market continues to improve at a moderate pace, a pace that remains insufficient to rapidly alleviate the issues of underemployment and low wage growth.

    We agree. We also agree that the Fed has been acting in a manner inconsistent with Yellen's talk.

    Add your comment.


  3.    BBC News – Will quantitative easing in the eurozone continue the era of cheap money?

    Linda Yueh:

    European Central Bank (ECB) president Mario Draghi has opened the door to large-scale cash injections in the eurozone.

    Quantitative easing (QE) had always been thought as beyond the ECB's mandate.

    But, Mr Draghi said that QE and other "unconventional instruments" were discussed and the entire 24-member board, which includes the German Bundesbank, was "unanimous" in its commitment to deploy such instruments if necessary.

    So, what's changed?

    Price problems

    The fear of deflation, or prices falling, mainly.

    Add your comment.


  4.    Asia City Centres Shifting as Rents Rise and Infrastructure Improves | Mingtiandi

    … rapid decentralisation across all six cities as lower rents and new facilities in alternative CBDs, business parks and peripheral centres lure occupiers away from traditional central locations.

    Jeremy Sheldon, JLL Head of Markets for Asia Pacific, says the need for greater efficiencies following the Global Financial Crisis was the most commonly-cited reason for moving.

    "The world has changed dramatically since the GFC. The new paradigm, especially in the financial industry, is the need for efficiency in everything to compensate for the cost of new regulation.

    Add your comment.


  5.    Are Real Estate Brokers Obsolete? – Forbes

    … the only way to avoid becoming obsolete is to reinvent your role before the marketplace does it for you. Said another way, you need to disrupt your own industry.

    There's no doubt that data is expanding in every area and becoming more accessible.

    Add your comment.


  6.    Viewpoint: What to watch in the Boston real estate market in 2014 – Boston Business Journal

    Boston remains a hot market for real estate investors. With record pricing in office and multifamily projects, and investment dollars coming in from all corners of the globe, increasingly larger projects are being planned and financed — a trend that will continue through 2014.

    May continue, may.

    Add your comment.


  7.    So many housing market questions, so little housing data – The Globe and Mail

    What's the dollar value of mortgages originated in Canada in the last quarter? Don't know. What's the credit-score distribution of mortgages in Canada — in other words, how creditworthy are Canadian homeowners? Don't know. What's the average down payment? Unknown. What percentage of condos are owned by foreign investors? Answer unknown due to lack of data.

    Add your comment.


  8.    Zillow: Portland home prices pushing historical limits of affordability | OregonLive.com

    Area homeowners still put a smaller portion of their income toward mortgage payments than they did from 1985 to 2000 — 20.5 percent today compared to 22.7 percent in the historical period.

    But if mortgage rates rise above 5 percent, that could flip. And rates are expected to rise this year as the Federal Reserve eases back on its stimulus efforts.

    A bigger mortgage burden could lead to homeowners stretching to afford homes, as they did in the housing bubble, said Zillow chief economist Stan Humphries.

    Add your comment.


  9.    Forecast: Dallas-Fort Worth home prices are heading higher | Dallas Morning News

    North Texas home prices are likely to zoom ahead this spring.

    In 2013, median residential sales prices in the Dallas-Fort Worth area were up by about 12 percent.

    "The long-term average rate of increase is only about 4.5 percent," said Dr. James Gaines, economist with the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University. "2014 is going to be another year of double digit price increases."

    It's fueling a bubble, but buyers are more sophisticated than they were before the 2008 crash. Will they slow down on their own or even be forced to by worsening affordability?

    Add your comment.


  10.    40 years ago: "Super Outbreak" of tornados

    … the most violent tornado outbreak ever recorded, with 30 F4/F5 tornadoes reported. From April 3 to April 4, 1974, there were 148 tornadoes confirmed in 13 U.S. states ….

    Add your comment.


  11.    3 flood-prone Marshall Co. homes to be demolished | The Herald-Dispatch

    Marshall County plans to demolish three-flood prone homes as part of a federal effort to reduce flooding.

    Add your comment.


  12.    PG&E Charged by U.S. Over Fatal 2010 Pipeline Explosion – Businessweek

    PG&E Corp. (PCG:US), owner of California's largest utility, was charged with 12 pipeline safety violations by the U.S. government for a 2010 natural gas explosion that killed eight people and left a crater the size of a house.

    The explosion in San Bruno created a crater about 72 feet (21.9 meters) long by 26 feet wide, completely destroyed 38 homes and damaged another 70. Sixty-six people were injured.

    Add your comment.


  13.    Kozy Heat recalls gas fireplaces after explosions – Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal

    Lakefield manufacturer Kozy Heat Fireplaces is recalling nearly 16,000 gas fireplaces following reports of explosions.

    Add your comment.


  14.    Women emphasize financial independence at commercial real estate meeting | Wichita Eagle

    It is true, she said, that she is working for someone else. But in December, she bought her first investment property, a duplex that she rents, which is a means of "securing" herself financially, Stang said. "It's so important to take your financial destiny into your own hands," she said.

    Giordano, vice president at Kansas Secured Title, said she didn't really think about her own financial security until her mother divorced.

    That event prompted her and her husband to begin buying rental properties, starting with their first one in 1998. "Here we are 18 rental properties later and I will tell you it works very well," she said, but she added that owning rental property is "not all sunshine and lollipops."

    "But we will have a retirement, a good retirement, when we retire," she said. "When we retire we'll have a 401(k) and pension plans. …What I like best about the rental properties is we can control it."

    Elyssa Seymour's road to financial security was a little different. The commercial specialist at NAI Martens said she is a horse lover, and the business where she boarded her horses went up for sale. Seymour said she and her husband, Tim, discussed it and decided to buy the property. Not just for the free rent for her horses, but the fact that it was on 15 acres of land south of Wichita, but it also had a business with it.

    Add your comment.


  15.    Nest disables feature on smoke alarms – The Washington Post

    The high-tech home monitoring device company Nest Labs is disabling a feature on its smoke alarms due to the risk that owners could unintentionally turn off the device with the wave of a hand.

    Add your comment.


  16.    Zillow: one-third of homes 'unaffordable' in Seattle | NWCN.com Washington – Oregon – Idaho

    A new study by Zillow finds 37 percent of homes in the Seattle metro area are out of reach for the average buyer.

    Add your comment.


  17.    Fatal Back Bay fire ignited by welders working in rear of building, official says – Metro – The Boston Globe

    Boston Fire Lieutenant Edward J. Walsh Jr. and Firefighter Michael R. Kennedy died last week in a nine-alarm fire that was ignited by welders working near the rear of 298 Beacon St., the apartment building where the two men became trapped in the basement by wind-whipped fire, officials said today.

    Officials said workers were installing an iron hand railing in the rear of 296 Beacon St. using welding tools. Sparks from that operation spread to the rear of the 298 Beacon St. building where it ignited dried wood from the building and then was fueled by strong, gusting winds.

    Add your comment.


  18.    Three Children Die in Fire – PAHomepage.com

    Three children are dead, and a home destroyed in overnight fire in Rush Township, just south of Danville. First calls came in around 1:20am to the home on South Smith Road.

    Add your comment.


  19.    E-cigs' liquid nicotine causing poisonings – CNN.com

    As electronic cigarettes increase in popularity, calls to the nation's poison control centers about exposure to the liquid nicotine used in many of the devices have surged, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday.

    In February, there were 215 poison center calls involving e-cigarettes, the CDC said in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. That's compared to one per month in September 2010.

    And 51% of those calls involved children 5 and under, officials said.

    Add your comment.


  20.    Springfield home prices up, foreclosure rates down | www.springfieldnewssun.com

    Homes prices across Springfield are up and foreclosures have dropped compared to 2013, signs of a slowly strengthening housing market that took a big hit in the country's economic downturn.
    Home prices in February 2014 increased by 5.8 percent from February 2013, according to data released this week by CoreLogic ….

    Add your comment.


  21.    Dr. Jed Kolko Offers Trulia's Real Estate Recap For March 2014 – CBS Boston

    "Single-family home construction is way below normal levels, while apartment construction is booming, at a 15-year high," Dr. Kolko mentions. Apartment rental is an essential first step for young people getting jobs and moving out of their parents' homes. As they form households with other 20-somethings, we see a positive sign of economic recovery, with more supply and demand for urban apartment rentals. Dr. Kolko says this will be interesting to watch in the longer-term, since "At the moment the suburbs are still growing faster than the cities."

    Add your comment.


  22.    Cold sales: Housing market cools off in March, as expected | The Poughkeepsie Journal | poughkeepsiejournal com

    April is looking better already, said Joseph Pettinella, principal broker at Century 21 Alliance Realty Group.

    "Now we're seeing a considerable number of showings and listings," he said. "We're having multiple showings of houses that were sitting for a couple months without showings."

    The weather discouraged people from listing their homes and from going out to look at them, not just here but across much of the Northeast, Pettinella said. Landscaping buried under deep snow took a toll, too, he said.

    Add your comment.


  23.    Realtor: Housing market 'very competitive' in area | La Crosse — WKBT News8000 com

    In February, 35 percent of the homes purchased across the U.S. were bought with cash. But in La Crosse, only about 5 percent of homes purchased each year are cash offers.

    Add your comment.


  24.    [Recommended] America's Biggest Metros Are Growing Much Faster Than Other Cities – Richard Florida – The Atlantic Cities

    Very interesting:

    The pattern is striking. Large metros (those with more than a million people) registered the fastest growth by far, 3.2 percent. This explosive growth, in large part due to their capacity to attract immigrants, is considerably better than the 2.4 percent growth rate for the U.S. as a whole. Medium size metros, those with between 500,000 and a million people, grew just a bit faster than the nation as a whole, at 2.5 percent. Metros with between 350,000 and 500,000 people grew at slightly below the national rate, 2.3 percent, while metros with less than 250,000 people grew at just 1.7 percent. And the nation's smallest geographic units, its 536 micropolitan areas, grew on average just 0.2 percent. More than half of them (286) saw their populations either decline or register no increase whatsoever between 2010 and 2013.

    And when we zoom in on which of these specific metros that are gaining and losing population, it's clear that America's new geography is increasingly defined by the two pillars of recovery — knowledge and energy ….

    Add your comment.


  25.    Demolition begins in flood-racked Onion Creek neighborhoods | www.mystatesman.com

    The first demolition crews arrived this week in Onion Creek neighborhoods to tear down homes that flooded on Halloween, many of which were abandoned over the past five months and have slowly become eyesores and health hazards.
    The first wave includes 14 homes that were bought out by the city before the Halloween flood and were severely damaged during the disaster. Seven homes on Firefly Drive should be gone "in the foreseeable future," said Wendy Morgan, spokeswoman for Austin's Watershed Protection Department.

    Add your comment.


  26.    Soaring Housing Costs Driving Educated People From Big Cities – Real Time Economics – WSJ

    More of America's highly-educated people are leaving huge cities and going to cheaper areas in the West and South. What is driving the shift? A big factor, says Redfin, a national real-estate brokerage, is soaring housing costs.

    Medium-sized cities in the West and South often have a much bigger share of "affordable" homes than the nation's biggest cities, New York and Los Angeles, according to an analysis of 15 cities by Redfin.

    In Houston, Texas, nearly 60% of homes for sale are "affordable" for a two-earner household ….

    So, people moving to Huston isn't just about fracking money. At the same time, Huston's prices have been going up rather dramatically.

    Add your comment.


  27.    As Fannie and Freddie boost earnings, critics say their fees are excessive and damaging – The Washington Post

    When you're raking in tens of billions in profits by helping credit-elite borrowers purchase homes, couldn't you lighten up on fees a little for everyday folks who would also like to buy?

    That's a question increasingly being posed to government-controlled home mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and their federal regulators. Though most buyers are unaware of the practice, Fannie and Freddie — by far the largest sources of mortgage money in the country — continue to charge punitive, recession-era fees that can add thousands of dollars to consumers' financing costs. This is despite the fact that the companies are enjoying record profits, low delinquency rates and rising home values; on top of that, the companies are protecting themselves from most losses with insurance policies paid for by consumers.

    Well, the flipside would be lending to those who wouldn't be able to afford the debt in the long run. That's where we were before the Great Recession kicked in. Just how far back to the bad old days do we want to go? Let's be careful. Also, Fannie and Freddie paying into the general revenue of the federal government helps lower the fiscal deficit. That helps keep income taxes down for those who can't afford to buy a house.

    Add your comment.


  28.    Bitcoin | Bapple Real Estate

    A Manhattan real estate broker accepted a deposit, rent and his own commission on a Nolita deal via the controversial virtual currency Bitcoin.

    This was after the IRS said it's a commodity subject to taxes?

    Will it end up an audit flag?

    Add your comment.


  29.    Withstanding Great Recession like China – Working Papers – St. Louis Fed

    Our empirical analysis shows that China's success in escaping the Great Recession is attributable to its bold and powerful 4 trillion renminbi stimulus package launched in late 2008. We study the precise channels through which the stimulus programs work in China. We also construct a simple model to rationalize the dramatically different impacts of stimulus programs across countries.

    Their thesis statement: "… the Chinese government cleverly used its state-owned enterprises (SOEs) as a fiscal instrument to implement its aggressive stimulus programs in 2009, consistent with the very Keynesian notion of aggregate demand management through increased government spending and the fiscal multiplier principle."

    Their proofs include lots of math.

    Add your comment.


  30.    RealtyTrac purges property listings of sex offender, drug lab data | Inman News

    RealtyTrac has removed all neighborhood information from the for-sale listing pages of its consumer portal just weeks after announcing that it had added data on unpalatable neighborhood characteristics to its listings.

    Visitors to realtytrac.com now may only access hyperlocal neighborhood data for for-sale listings by clicking an icon on listing pages to generate property report pages.

    Add your comment.


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