News: Real Estate, Risk, Economics. Apr. 10-11, 2014

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Table of Contents
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1) The Bridge to Prosperity: Reverse Reckless Cuts, Restore Our Infrastructure, and Revive Jobs | Center for Effective Government

2) Houston sees strong sales for high-end housing market – Houston Business Journal

3) Best Cities To Invest In Real Estate? Those Would Be Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary

4) Councilman Price seeks quicker action on 'problem properties' – latimes com

5) Fed minutes show mixed opinions on health of job market – CBS News

6) Facing New Rules, Banks Take Foreclosures to Court – Bloomberg

7) Firefighters battling 8-alarm fire in East Boston – News Local Massachusetts – Boston com

8) Washington L&I Calls for Better Escalator Safety

9) Larimer County flood and fire victims can get free sandbags – 7NEWS Denver TheDenverChanne com

10) Is the Power Grid too Big?

11) Protecting Your Family and Home from a Wildfire | Chubb Personal Lines: The Chubb Tradition

12) Breeder, trainer loses 23 hunting dogs – NUJournal com

13) Woman Sentenced for Setting Fire to Business in Insurance Fraud Scheme – KRON4 — San Francisco Bay Area News

14) Grants awarded in NJ community to elevate homes – Newsday

15) City paying for sewage backup damage in Belmont area : Politics

16) Be Glad That Corporate Liability Is Limited – Bloomberg View

  1.    The Bridge to Prosperity: Reverse Reckless Cuts, Restore Our Infrastructure, and Revive Jobs | Center for Effective Government

    Our nation is facing an infrastructure investment deficit. Much of America's infrastructure was built in the decades directly after World War II. The American Society of Civil Engineers most recent report card gives us a D+ on infrastructure. It estimates that the country needs to invest $1 trillion more than we now spend on repair, maintenance, and construction of a safe, sustainable national infrastructure. Our airports and aviation systems, bridges, roads, dams, levees, schools, energy production and distribution network, drinking water systems, wastewater treatment, hazardous waste disposal, ports, inland waterways, rail, city transit, and other public structures require $1 trillion of new investments between now and the end of the decade. A large portion of infrastructure in the U.S. is funded by federal discretionary spending.

    Invest now, build a platform for business growth, and create jobs in the bargain. To build and maintain the public structures that make private economic activity possible, the federal government should increase spending on programs that meet the nation's critical needs. This will lay the foundation for future growth and spur immediate, needed job growth, creating a "virtuous circle" of more direct economic activity, indirect job creation, and more money flowing in to federal, state, and local governments. Just making needed investments in the five critical areas below could create over 2.5 million jobs.

    What do you think?

    Add your comment.


  2.    Houston sees strong sales for high-end housing market – Houston Business Journal

    Houston's housing market shows no signs of slowing down.

    The city's housing market saw its 34 th consecutive month of positive home sales in March, the largest one-month sales volume recorded since last September, with houses priced at more than $500,000 seeing the highest increase at 28.1 percent in sales year over year.

    Houston's lease property market was also strong in March. Single-family home rentals jumped 22.3 percent compared to March 2013, while year-over-year townhouse/condominium rentals rose 12.4 percent. The average rent for a single-family home increased 5.2 percent to $1,633 and the average rent for a townhouse/condo rose 7.2 percent to $1,496.

    Add your comment.


  3.    Best Cities To Invest In Real Estate? Those Would Be Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary

    … the study doesn't put to rest the argument that Canada may be facing a housing bubble, as it doesn't look at what could happen to real estate markets in the short term. Of the rankings' top 20 markets, eight are in the U.S., whose housing markets are just now recovering from the bursting of last decade's bubble.

    In fact, in the short term, Canada's real estate markets are more prone to ups and downs than average, Grosvenor suggested.

    Add your comment.


  4.    Councilman Price seeks quicker action on 'problem properties' – latimes com

    Dozens of people paid up to $600 a month for rooms at the Hoover Street address, a former office building that officials said was illegally converted into apartments. In October, city officials declared it "substandard due to illegal occupancy" and ordered the owner to stop letting it be used as a living space.

    In March, after the city held a hearing with the property owner, the Fire Department ordered people to vacate the building, citing "unsafe buildings" and "structural hazards." The "myriad violations" at the building included a lack of installed smoke alarms, a Fire Department spokesman said.

    Office-building conversions is a great idea, but such conversions needs to be properly done.

    Add your comment.


  5.    Fed minutes show mixed opinions on health of job market – CBS News

    "Several participants pointed to a number of factors — including the low labor-force participation rate and the still-high rates of longer-duration unemployment and of workers employed part time for economic reasons — as suggesting that there might be considerably more labor market slack than indicated by the unemployment rate alone," the FOMC minutes stated. "A couple of other participants, however, saw reasons to believe that slack was more limited, viewing the decline in the participation rate as primarily reflecting demographic trends with little role for cyclical factors and observing that broader measures of unemployment had registered declines in the past year that were comparable with the decline in the standard measure."

    Our view has been that even though some of the low participation rate is due to Baby Boomers retiring, many of them retired prematurely given the downturn and would likely come back into the market to earn more to make up some or all of the difference since early retirement means lower Social Security payments.

    Add your comment.


  6.    Facing New Rules, Banks Take Foreclosures to Court – Bloomberg

    This is a major shift. It will increase inventory, which will mitigate price increases or even lower prices depending on the area.

    "Going through the judicial process now protects lenders," said Thomas Lawler, a housing consultant and former chief economist at Fannie Mae. "Even though it takes longer, all sorts of eyes starting with the judge's will reduce the likelihood of mistakes and potential liability under new foreclosure laws."

    Add your comment.


  7.    Firefighters battling 8-alarm fire in East Boston – News Local Massachusetts – Boston com

    An eight-alarm fire tore through three buildings and a car in East Boston tonight [Wednesday, April 9, 2014], but all the residents got out safely, officials said.

    The fire department responded at 7:23 p.m. to 85 Lexington St., a 2 1/2-story wood-frame house. Smoke was showing on arrival, fire officials said.

    Add your comment.


  8.    Washington L&I Calls for Better Escalator Safety

    In the year since the tragic death on a King County Metro escalator, more than 60 people have been injured on escalators, according to the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I).

    At least 70 percent of those injuries could have been avoided by using the hand rail.

    It was April 8, 2013, when Maurecio Bell, 42, choked to death after his clothing got tangled in an escalator during the early morning hours at the University Street Station. Footage showed Bell losing his balance and falling on his back.

    Our mom always said, "Hold onto the hand rail." Thanks, Mom.

    Add your comment.


  9.    Larimer County flood and fire victims can get free sandbags – 7NEWS Denver TheDenverChanne com

    Larimer County is working with nonprofit disaster relief workers to provide free sand bags to residents who have been affected by forest fires and erosion flooding over the past two years.

    Add your comment.


  10.    Is the Power Grid too Big?

    Logical:

    The model started by comparing one 1,000-bus grid with ten 100-bus networks. It then assessed how well the grids shared electricity in response to virtual outages.

    "We found that for the best tradeoff between providing backup power and blackout risk, the optimal size was 500 to 700 nodes," Newman said.

    Add your comment.


  11.    Protecting Your Family and Home from a Wildfire | Chubb Personal Lines: The Chubb Tradition

    We're impressed.

    Protecting Your Family and Home from a Wildfire

    If your home is located in a woodland setting, rural area, or remote mountain site, you may face the threat of wildfire. Wildfires often begin quietly and then spread quickly, igniting brush, trees, and even homes. You can reduce your risk by following these tips to help protect your family, home and property from wildfire.

    This information is advisory in nature. No liability is assumed by reason of the information in this document.

    Add your comment.


  12.    Breeder, trainer loses 23 hunting dogs – NUJournal com

    A Minnesota hunting dog breeder and trainer says he feels like he lost his family after 23 dogs were killed in a fire that destroyed his barn and kennels.

    John Kim says it's difficult to look at the charred rubble of what remains of his livelihood in Princeton. Compounding his misery is a lack of insurance for the property he lost.

    Add your comment.


  13.    Woman Sentenced for Setting Fire to Business in Insurance Fraud Scheme – KRON4 — San Francisco Bay Area News

    A federal judge in San Jose sentenced a 53-year-old Mission Viejo woman to 16 months in prison for collecting money on an insurance company after allegedly setting fire to a Mountain View business in 2006, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

    Add your comment.


  14.    Grants awarded in NJ community to elevate homes – Newsday

    A low-lying barrier island community north of Atlantic City is the first to be awarded state aid since Superstorm Sandy to help residents elevate their homes.

    The Federal Emergency Management Agency drew up new flood maps after Sandy and required owners in storm-prone areas to elevate their homes. Those who do not will face greatly increased insurance premiums.

    Add your comment.


  15.    City paying for sewage backup damage in Belmont area : Politics

    … a water main on Butler Avenue between 11th and 12th streets broke and water filled a nearby manhole, which caused the sewer to back up into the basements of 21 homes on Butler, 11th Street and Furnas Avenue.

    In all, nearly two dozen families woke on the first day of the year to flooded basements.

    The saving grace: The city was liable for damages, to the tune of $127,000 for 16 of the 20 claims.

    When sewers do back up, the city often has no legal liability.

    Add your comment.


  16.    Be Glad That Corporate Liability Is Limited – Bloomberg View

    Very interesting:

    If you run in libertarian circles, you hear a lot about lawsuits. It's the obvious recourse for anyone who wants less regulation but can't bring themselves to insist that, say, chemical companies should be allowed to dump toxic waste into your water supply. If you stick around long enough, you'll hear someone advocate eliminating limited liability entirely: making corporate owners liable for anything that a firm ever did.

    It's an idea I've always found intriguing. And because it popped up in the comments to this post (from a nonlibertarian), and because it's Friday, I thought it worth explaining exactly why it's unworkable.

    Add your comment.


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