News: Real Estate, Risk, Economics. Apr. 26-28, 2014

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Table of Contents
(Click to sections below.)

1) More detail on those Chinese 3D-printed houses : TreeHugger

2) Cyclone Ita devastates West Coast forests | Stuff co nz

3) Flood damage to N.B. roads, bridges in the millions: minister | CTV Atlantic News

4) Water main burst floods part of downtown Corvallis

5) Bill limits who can be sued at nursing homes – SFGate

6) FEMA approves aid for 19 Indiana counties hit by storm | Indianapolis Business Journal | IBJ com

7) Authorities say Southwest Ohio blast 'suspicious' – News – Ohio

8) New York hospital warns about electronic cigarettes after patient on oxygen is burned in fire | Star Tribune

9) NJ eyes nearly 700 homes for post-Sandy buyouts – Houston Chronicle

10) Lawsuit Filed in Deadly Boston Brownstone Blaze – News Local Massachusetts – Boston com

11) Thousands of claims for Eketahuna quake damage – National – NZ Herald News

12) ITAR-TASS: Russia – Almost 100 wildfires on area of 12000 hectares recorded in Russia

13) 4.4 earthquake in Slovenia, Italy, nr nuclear plant — RT News

14) China says more than half of its groundwater is polluted | Environment | theguardian com

15) Who controls Nigeria? – YouTube

16) JLL CEO testifies before U.S. Congress – YouTube

17) Social media fuels Chinese overseas real estate purchases – chicagotribune com

18) Carefully weigh real-estate investments

19) Why the Housing Market Is Still Stalling the Economy – NYTimes com

20) Revived housing market helps keep Britain's high-street tills ringing | Business | theguardian com

21) Sex offender data threatening home values, tarnishing neighborhoods and frustrating real estate agents | Inman News

22) Italian real estate brimming with investment opportunities, says Polaris | European CEO

23) Singapore Q1 private home prices fall 1.3 pct q/q | Reuters

24) Drought covers 100% of California for first time in 15 years – latimes com

25) Surprise! The U.S. is poised to be a rising star in manufacturing

26) Explosion rocks small town in Washington – seattlepi com

27) After Washington Mudslide, Questions About Building in Nature's Danger Zones

28) Floods Kill Nearly 100 in Afghanistan

29) Chinese with cash chase the American dream – YouTube

30) Explosive Fertilizer Needs Regulation, U.S. Board Finds – Bloomberg

31) Property owners challenge Miss. fire district fees – SFGate

32) Sinkhole in Florida Seems to Be Opening Again – ABC News

33) Health Officials Say They Can't Definitively Tie Health Effects To Spill

34) Des Moines hearing set on bedbug suit settlement

35) Lawsuit claims negligence by utility in wildfire | UTSanDiego com

36) Couple wins $3 million in drilling lawsuit | Lubbock Online | Lubbock Avalanche-Journal

37) 10 Traits of Great Tenants | RentalCluster com Blog

38) Concealed-Carry and Commercial Real Estate | Realtor Magazine

39) REwatch: Inventory and interest rates help stabilize housing market for now

40) City aims to reduce tax credit errors for commercial real estate owners, developers – Baltimore Business Journal

41) Banks Are Making It Easier To Get A Mortgage – MainStreet

42) Water Recycling Promises to Ease Impact of Long-Term Drought | NBC Southern California

43) Housing Won't Save the U.S. Economy | House of Debt

44) Strip private banks of their power to create money – FT com

  1.    More detail on those Chinese 3D-printed houses : TreeHugger

    TreeHugger recently covered the 3D printed houses built in Shanghai from fiber reinforced cement but had limited information; now Designboom comes to the rescue with more photos and a fascinating video.

    Add your comment.


  2.    Cyclone Ita devastates West Coast forests | Stuff.co.nz

    The scale of the destruction Cyclone Ita wrought upon the West Coast's native bush and tree population may not be known for weeks.

    Add your comment.


  3.    Flood damage to N.B. roads, bridges in the millions: minister | CTV Atlantic News

    FREDERICTON — Spring flooding has already caused millions of dollars in damage to New Brunswick's roads and bridges, the province's transportation minister said Wednesday.

    Add your comment.


  4.    Water main burst floods part of downtown Corvallis

    A 20-inch water main burst on Fifth Street outside the fire department around 3 p.m. Tuesday, causing thousands of gallons of water per minute to flow through downtown streets in Corvallis, disrupting traffic and reducing water pressure citywide for a few hours.

    Add your comment.


  5.    Bill limits who can be sued at nursing homes – SFGate

    TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — The Florida House on Wednesday agreed to limit who can be named as defendants in lawsuits against nursing homes in a bill that now goes to Gov. Rick Scott.

    The measure prohibits "passive investors," those not involved in the direct decision-making of a facility, from being sued. Supporters say it opens the door to more investment in the state's nursing homes, enabling them to provide better care.

    Add your comment.


  6.    FEMA approves aid for 19 Indiana counties hit by storm | 2014-04-22 | Indianapolis Business Journal | IBJ.com

    The Federal Emergency Management Agency has approved disaster aid for 19 Indiana counties hit by a January storm that brought paralyzing snow and frigid readings.

    FEMA officials had initially rejected Indiana's request ….

    Add your comment.


  7.    Authorities say Southwest Ohio blast 'suspicious' – News – Ohio

    DAYTON, OHIO: Authorities are calling "suspicious" a natural gas explosion that leveled a vacant home and damaged 48 nearby structures in Dayton.

    Add your comment.


  8.    New York hospital warns about electronic cigarettes after patient on oxygen is burned in fire | Star Tribune

    SYRACUSE, N.Y. — A New York hospital is reinforcing its ban on electronic cigarettes after a patient on oxygen was burned by a fire that erupted while she was puffing on one of the devices.

    Add your comment.


  9.    NJ eyes nearly 700 homes for post-Sandy buyouts – Houston Chronicle

    New Jersey has identified nearly 700 homes it plans to buy and demolish as part of an effort to move people out of flood prone areas.

    … no one can be forced to sell their homes under the program.

    Add your comment.


  10.    Lawsuit Filed in Deadly Boston Brownstone Blaze – News Local Massachusetts – Boston.com

    BOSTON (AP) — The owner of a brownstone where two firefighters were killed in a wind-fueled fire has filed a civil lawsuit alleging negligence by welders working next door.

    Add your comment.


  11.    Thousands of claims for Eketahuna quake damage – National – NZ Herald News

    New Zealand:

    More than 5000 claims for damage caused by the magnitude 6.2 Eketahuna earthquake earlier this year have been lodged with the Earthquake Commission (EQC).

    Add your comment.


  12.    ITAR-TASS: Russia – Almost 100 wildfires on area of 12000 hectares recorded in Russia

    MOSCOW, April 22. /ITAR-TASS/. The area of wildfires in Russia has exceeded 12 thousand hectares, but they pose no hazard to the nearby populated localities, spokesman for the Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations (EMERCOM) Alexander Drobyshevsky told ITAR-TASS.

    Add your comment.


  13.    4.4 earthquake in Slovenia, Italy, nr nuclear plant — RT News

    According to the European-Mediterranean Seismological Center, the magnitude of the quake was measured at 4.5, with a depth of 2 kilometers.

    The earthquake took place about 200 kilometers from a nuclear power plant at Krško, a town in eastern Slovenia.

    Add your comment.


  14.    China says more than half of its groundwater is polluted | Environment | theguardian.com

    Nearly 60% of China's underground water is polluted, state media has reported, underscoring the severity of the country's environmental woes.

    The country's land and resources ministry found that among 4,778 testing spots in 203 cities, 44% had "relatively poor" underground water quality; the groundwater in another 15.7% tested as "very poor".

    Last week, state media reported plans for a seaside desalinisation plant to provide one-third of Beijing's tap water by 2019. The state-run Beijing Enterprises Water Group will spend 7bn yuan (£667bn) building the plant in neighbouring Hebei province's Tangshan city, more than 200 km from the capital.

    That's what we've been calling for, for decades for California, etc.

    Add your comment.


  15.    Who controls Nigeria? – YouTube

    Nigeria is Africa's biggest economy and the continent's most populous state, but a recent spate of violence raises questions about the government's ability to provide security. The FT's Vanessa Kortekaas reports on the battle for power in the country.

    Add your comment.


  16.    JLL CEO testifies before U.S. Congress – YouTube

    Colin Dyer testifies before U.S. Congress Bicameral Task Force on Climate Change on April 10, highlighting how the real estate industry addresses the most global pressing environmental issues through sustainable strategies.

    Add your comment.


  17.    Social media fuels Chinese overseas real estate purchases – chicagotribune.com

    HONG KONG (Reuters) – For some Chinese investors, the first step to purchasing millions of dollars in property on the other side of the globe is a lot like ordering a new t-shirt online – search and click.

    Social media is the catalyst, connecting Chinese buyers and overseas agents. At least one prospective buyer entrusted an agent with $100 million to invest in residential housing. Others bought houses in Houston or plots of land in Colorado, sight unseen, according to real estate agents.

    In the last six month of 2013, $1.1 billion worth of potential transactions were referred to international agents by Juwai.com, the largest real estate portal that targets Chinese buyers looking abroad.

    Add your comment.


  18.    Carefully weigh real-estate investments

    Question: I own my home and invested in stocks, but not in real estate that I would rent out. I'm a little intimidated. What advice do you have to help me decide whether I should add real-estate investments to my portfolio of investments?

    Answer: Most people can succeed investing in real estate if they're willing to do their homework, which includes selecting top real-estate professionals.

    Here are several important questions to help you decide if you have what it takes to succeed and be happy with real-estate investments that involve managing property.

    Add your comment.


  19.    Why the Housing Market Is Still Stalling the Economy – NYTimes.com

    If the economy still feels stuck, blame the housing market.

    That may not match how people in a handful of big, prosperous cities see things. After a disastrous and historic crash, housing is booming in places like San Francisco and New York. Bidding wars are back, and the question is not whether the real estate market is recovering but whether new bubbles are inflating.

    But there's another reality that is more important for the national economy. Except in a few booming markets, housing is nowhere close to pulling its economic weight.

    Add your comment.


  20.    Revived housing market helps keep Britain's high-street tills ringing | Business | theguardian.com

    The resurgent housing market helped to keep retailers buoyant last month with sales at furniture and carpet shops and other non-food stores soaring 9.6%, their biggest annual rise for 12 years.

    Add your comment.


  21.    Sex offender data threatening home values, tarnishing neighborhoods and frustrating real estate agents | Inman News

    Allan Van Inwegen said he received some unsettling news almost immediately after moving into a home with his wife and two children about 14 years ago.

    His neighbors told him they were living in a property right next door to a sex offender, "who happened to be 17 with a green mohawk," said Inwegen, a broker in Denver.

    But after some digging, he discovered that the offender wasn't exactly a menace. The 17-year-old had had sex with his 15-year-old girlfriend, and the girl's father, a preacher, had caught them and pressed charges.

    His story points towards the potential for sex offender data to mislead and spook consumers, a growing concern for real estate agents and even neighborhoods.

    Add your comment.


  22.    Italian real estate brimming with investment opportunities, says Polaris | European CEO

    What do you consider the key qualities for an investment manager?
    Trust. Building a trustworthy relationship with investors and all stakeholders is the one fundamental long-term winning strategy. Trust is based on transparency and integrity, and is particularly important in market sectors that have not been transparent in the past. Trust also means, of course, capability to serve the clients' needs in terms of market access, structuring and professional services in order to extract value from the real estate asset class.

    Add your comment.


  23.    Singapore Q1 private home prices fall 1.3 pct q/q | Reuters

    A series of measures to cool the property market have started to mute activity in the housing market in Singapore, and property prices have fallen for the past two consecutive quarters after rising 62 percent between the second quarter of 2009 and third quarter of 2013.

    Add your comment.


  24.    Drought covers 100% of California for first time in 15 years – latimes.com

    A prolonged period of below-average rainfall has put the entire state of California under some level of drought, ranging in severity from moderate to exceptional, for the first time in 15 years.

    The latest drought monitor released by the National Climatic Data Center this week shows that the entire state is under moderate drought conditions, but within that map, 76.6% of the state is experiencing extreme drought conditions, and for 24.7% of the state, the level of dryness is "exceptional."

    During the same period last year, none of the state was considered to be under extreme or exceptional drought conditions, and just 30% fell under the "severe" category, according to the assessment released Thursday.

    Add your comment.


  25.    Surprise! The U.S. is poised to be a rising star in manufacturing.

    After years of hand-wringing about the expense of making things in America, a new report from the Boston Consulting Group says that's all changing. …

    The U.S. is getting cheaper, along with Mexico.

    The reasons: wage stability, increasing productivity, a stable currency and, most dramatically, a sharp decline (50 percent) in the cost of natural gas since 2005, a result of the boom in shale gas.

    "Many companies are making manufacturing investment decisions on the basis of a decades-old worldview that is sorely out of date," wrote Harold L. Sirkin, a BCG senior partner and a coauthor of the analysis. "They still see North America and western Europe as high cost and Latin America, eastern Europe, and most of Asia — especially China — as low cost. In reality, there are now high- and low-cost countries in nearly every region of the world."

    Add your comment.


  26.    Explosion rocks small town in Washington – seattlepi.com

    SEATTLE (AP) — A big explosion and fire destroyed three buildings, damaged several others, sent debris flying for blocks and jolted people awake early Friday in a Washington town, firefighters and North Bend residents said.

    Add your comment.


  27.    After Washington Mudslide, Questions About Building in Nature's Danger Zones

    Preventing people from living in harm's way is a more complicated question, one not solved by a stroke of a presidential pen. The authority to restrict development in areas prone to risk lies with local and state zoning boards and building departments. But prohibitions on construction usually run headlong into property rights issues.

    Add your comment.


  28.    Floods Kill Nearly 100 in Afghanistan

    Afghan officials say floods triggered by heavy rain have killed more than 95 people in northern Afghanistan.

    Add your comment.


  29.    Chinese with cash chase the American dream – YouTube

    Construction projects across the U.S. receive a fresh source of funds from Chinese eager for a green card in exchange. Jane Lanhee Lee looks at the rising popularity of a once-obscure visa scheme.

    Add your comment.


  30.    Explosive Fertilizer Needs Regulation, U.S. Board Finds – Bloomberg

    National regulations on the handling and storage of ammonium nitrate fertilizer are needed to avoid the type of massive explosion that last year killed 14 people in West, Texas, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board said.

    The April 17 explosion was "preventable," Chairman Rafael Moure-Eraso told reporters today. The 40 tons to 60 tons of ammonium nitrate that ignited were stored in a wooden building and bins, rather than concrete, with no modern fire suppression equipment ….

    Add your comment.


  31.    Property owners challenge Miss. fire district fees – SFGate

    JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The U.S. Supreme Court will consider May 15 whether to hear an appeal over whether a Mississippi fire protection district can charge a fee for its services to local property owners.

    Add your comment.


  32.    Sinkhole in Florida Seems to Be Opening Again – ABC News

    A sinkhole that was plugged over the weekend between two houses in a sprawling Florida retirement community appears to be opening again.

    Add your comment.


  33.    Health Officials Say They Can't Definitively Tie Health Effects To Spill

    CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP, Jeff Morris) — Health officials said they can't definitively prove hundreds of West Virginians experienced health effects from contact with a chemical spilled into the water supply.

    Symptoms in 369 medical records were consistent with studies on spilled crude MCHM. But officials said colds, flus and viruses could also have caused the ailments.

    Add your comment.


  34.    Des Moines hearing set on bedbug suit settlement

    DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A judge has scheduled a three-day hearing to hear any objections to the proposed $2.45 million settlement of a lawsuit over bedbugs at two downtown Des Moines apartment buildings.

    Add your comment.


  35.    Lawsuit claims negligence by utility in wildfire | UTSanDiego.com

    LOS ANGELES (AP) — Victims of a wildfire that burned 24 homes have sued the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, claiming the utility started the huge blaze and failed to properly maintain power lines and equipment.

    Add your comment.


  36.    Couple wins $3 million in drilling lawsuit | Lubbock Online | Lubbock Avalanche-Journal

    DALLAS (AP) — A Dallas jury has awarded $3 million to a North Texas couple who sued a drilling company over alleged contamination.

    Add your comment.


  37.    10 Traits of Great Tenants | RentalCluster.com Blog

    Disputes between landlord and tenants are not uncommon. These disputes happen despite an agreement between them which well defines the responsibilities and rights of both the landlord and the tenant. If landlords wish to stay away from such disputes they need not just take care that the agreement is well drafted but also ensure they do the required due diligence before they handover the keys.

    Add your comment.


  38.    Concealed-Carry and Commercial Real Estate | Realtor Magazine

    Concealed-carry is now the law of the land. In District of Columbia v. Heller in 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court confirmed an individual's right to keep and bear arms in the nation's capital. Two years later, the court affirmed this ruling at the state level, denying local governments from interfering with an individual's rights to bear arms. After that point, areas with gun bans in place had to pass legislation that did not come into conflict with the court's ruling. Illinois was the last state in the nation to pass a concealed-carry law last July.

    "Currently, there isn't a national organization that is a repository for concealed weapons information about every state or for what steps each state is doing about concealed-carry guns, Cornicelli says. "Building owners should contact their state police or local police where their building is located if they have any issues or questions about the concealed-carry law in their state."

    Add your comment.


  39.    REwatch: Inventory and interest rates help stabilize housing market for now

    Market forecasters continue to predict that 2014 will be another year of gains for the residential real estate market — even though the brisk pace of sales that saw home prices rise an average of 13.6 percent last year cooled as the polar vortex besieged the northern half of the country.

    In fact, the spring home buying season is off to a stronger start than at this time last year, with modest price increases and a spike in inventory, according to the recently released realtor.com® National Housing Trend Report for March.

    Add your comment.


  40.    City aims to reduce tax credit errors for commercial real estate owners, developers – Baltimore Business Journal

    City officials are launching a new online tax credit application process for developers and owners of commercial real estate aimed at reducing errors and increasing convenience.

    Add your comment.


  41.    Banks Are Making It Easier To Get A Mortgage – MainStreet

    NEW YORK (MainStreet) — As the economic recovery continues to materialize, banks are loosening the credit spigots, making it easier for consumers to obtain mortgages.

    Lenders typically look for mortgage applicants with enough income to cover monthly payments, a substantial down payment and a FICO score above a certain threshold, among other factors.

    Beware of new bubbles.

    Add your comment.


  42.    Water Recycling Promises to Ease Impact of Long-Term Drought | NBC Southern California

    Expanded recycling of sewage water holds the promise of reducing Southern California's reliance on importing drinking water from rivers and snowmelt hundreds of miles away, according to officials from groundwater and sanitation agencies.

    Add your comment.


  43.    Housing Won't Save the U.S. Economy | House of Debt

    Very interesting:

    The bottom line is that the U.S. economy will have to look for an engine other than housing to drive growth going forward.

    UPDATE: This great Business Insider interview with Jed Kolko at Trulia makes a similar point about renters. As he says: "Rents, however, rose throughout the recession or fell only modestly, depending on the measure you look at, even though incomes stagnated, and of course low mortgage rates don't help renters.; The recession caused rental demand to rise. Millions of people lost homes to foreclosure, and many of them became renters; in addition, many others put off their first-time home purchase and remained renters."

    We think it is officially time to stop cheering for higher house prices. They aren't having much of an impact on the economy anyway, and the resulting higher rents are hurting many.

    We think most realize that in general, people are not being nearly as reckless with whatever equity they've gained back. It remains to be seen how long such prudence will last.

    Add your comment.


  44.    Strip private banks of their power to create money – FT.com

    The idea is catching on.

    First, the state, not banks, would create all transactions money, just as it creates cash today. Customers would own the money in transaction accounts, and would pay the banks a fee for managing them.

    Second, banks could offer investment accounts, which would provide loans. But they could only loan money actually invested by customers. They would be stopped from creating such accounts out of thin air and so would become the intermediaries that many wrongly believe they now are. Holdings in such accounts could not be reassigned as a means of payment. Holders of investment accounts would be vulnerable to losses. Regulators might impose equity requirements and other prudential rules against such accounts.

    Third, the central bank would create new money as needed to promote non-inflationary growth. Decisions on money creation would, as now, be taken by a committee independent of government.

    Finally, the new money would be injected into the economy in four possible ways: to finance government spending, in place of taxes or borrowing; to make direct payments to citizens; to redeem outstanding debts, public or private; or to make new loans through banks or other intermediaries. All such mechanisms could (and should) be made as transparent as one might wish.

    Add your comment.


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