News: Real Estate, Risk, Economics. Aug. 7, 2014

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Table of Contents
(Click to sections below.)

1) 15 Question Checklist to Ask Every Renter Before a Showing | RenterResume's blog

2) Get ready for the New York real estate bubble to POP! – commentary

3) In Key West's historic Old Town, homes yielding to neglect – Home & Garden – MiamiHerald com

4) Gill Marcus: Overview of the South African economy

5) Naming the Biggest Losers in America – Bloomberg View

6) Another Reminder About the Stupidity of Austerity | Economic Policy Institute

7) St. John to require absentee owners to register properties : News

8) Seattle selling landlord's properties as 'last resort'

9) Valley man accused of defrauding $360,000 from real estate investors

10) Home Prices Climb For 28th Month – Business Insider

11) Apps to Help Analyze & Operate Commercial Real Estate – YouTube

12) Mortgage Rates Just Barely Higher; Some Afternoon Improvements

13) Canadians Can't Drink Their Water After 1.3 Billion Gallons of Mining Waste Flows Into Rivers

14) Lakes formed by quake in China threaten flooding – Hindustan Times

15) 275 More Homes Evacuated because of Oregon Wildfire

16) Landslide hits Utah neighborhood, destroys home

17) Flash floods damage more than 30 California homes Page 1 of 2 | UTSanDiego com

18) Speedy Prefab: How a 9-Story Apartment Was Built in 5 Days | Urbanist

19) Why Real Estate Investors Continue To Make The Same Mistakes Over & Over Again? – shellyrobersonrealtor com

20) Are the Chinese Buying Out Manhattan and What does it Say About the Economy of China? | Forex Magnates

21) Philippines: From "Sick Man of Asia" to "the Next Asian Miracle" | Enterprising Investor

22) Fed Hawks Squawk – Tim Duy's Fed Watch

23) Real estate taxes soar along with home prices – SFGate

24) Charleston Daily Mail | Demolition bill protecting historic Charleston properties advances

25) Hercules: Suspect arrested in Craigslist scam to rent out house for sale – ContraCostaTimes com

26) BofA reportedly in $17-billion settlement over toxic loan securities – LA Times

27) Fed looms as major factor in Treasury borrowing outlook – MarketWatch

  1.    15 Question Checklist to Ask Every Renter Before a Showing | RenterResume's blog

    In 15 questions or less you can learn enough about your applicants to make an informed decision about whether or not it's going to be a fit BEFORE a showing is scheduled.

    Be sure not to ask any questions that would open you up to a discrimination suit. You could also include a total for move-in costs and ask if the applicant has, or will have, that available. Will all the decision makers be coming to the showing? You might ask that only to encourage it, not to refuse a showing.

    Add your comment.


  2.    Get ready for the New York real estate bubble to POP!—commentary

    Currently, there are measures in the United States to collect additional taxes from foreign persons who invests in U.S. real estate. The Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act (FIRPTA), otherwise known as Section 897, specifically says any gain recognized by a foreign person will be treated as if such gain were effectively connected to a U.S. trade or business. And the IRS collects an additional 10 percent of the purchase price [in] accordance with Section 1445.

    But guess what? There's a loophole! The IRS ruled that a foreign investor who enters into a total return swap [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Total_retu rn_swap] that is tied to a broadly based U.S. real estate index will be exempt from FIRPTA. And this explains why so many shell corporations, as New York Magazine recently published in its "Stash Pads" article [http://nymag.com/news/features/foreigne rs-hiding-money-new-york-real-estate-201 4-6/], are on public record as being the buyer, and not an individual name.

    So what do you think is going to happen when this loophole closes, as expressed in whisper conversations by some on Capitol Hill? A real estate POP! like no other in what New Yorkers like to call, "The Greatest City in the World."

    Commentary by Todd M. Schoenberger, president of J. Streicher Asset Management LLC. He also serves as portfolio manager of the LandColt Onshore and Offshore Funds.

    Add your comment.


  3.    In Key West's historic Old Town, homes yielding to neglect – Home & Garden – MiamiHerald.com

    "I had parked a block away and I was on my way to an inspection and I walked by it and did a double-take and started walking around it, determining if I should do anything," he said.

    "The more I looked at it, I saw some holes in the roof where I knew water was entering it," he said. "It's not on much of a foundation. I posted it that day unsafe and not fit for habitation."

    Declaring the homes unsafe for human habitation takes them out of the purview of the Historic Architecture Review Commission, said Wampler, who hoped that bringing the five homes to the board's attention would spur efforts to restore them.

    Add your comment.


  4.    Gill Marcus: Overview of the South African economy

    Over the period under review, the South African economy faced a very challenging environment against this global backdrop, with domestic issues compounding these difficulties. The exchange rate moved broadly in line with a number of emerging-market economies in response to tapering and capital-flow reversals. For example, between the beginning of November 2013 and the beginning of February 2014, net sales of bonds and equities by non-residents totalled just over R70 bn, but since then net purchases have totalled over R40 bn. The rand has generally depreciated over the period, although with a high degree of volatility in response to these wide swings in capital flows. However, idiosyncratic factors caused the rand to diverge from its emerging market peers at times. In particular, the rand was also influenced by the widening deficit on the current account of the balance of payments, and by a succession of protracted labour disputes in the motor-vehicle subsector and mining sectors in particular, which have undermined the country's export and growth performance and prospects.

    The fraught labour relations environment contributed to the decline in domestic economic growth from 2,5 per cent in 2012 to 1,9 per cent in 2013, and the economy contracted by 0,6 per cent in the first quarter of 2014. While the monthly data for April pointed to a better second quarter outcome, both mining and manufacturing outcomes in May were again negative. With household consumption expenditure and private sector investment growth expected to slow further amid weak business confidence, the Bank has lowered its growth forecast for 2014 to 1,7 per cent. Under these circumstances, the high level of unemployment, currently at around 25 per cent, is expected to persist and employment growth is expected to remain constrained, particularly in the private sector. The need for fiscal consolidation is also likely to constrain public sector employment growth, which to date has been th e main driver of employment growth since the onset of the crisis.

    What South Africa has always failed to address is income and wealth inequality. Fiscal austerity is not the solution.

    Add your comment.


  5.    Naming the Biggest Losers in America – Bloomberg View

    Heavy on ideology but backed up by historical data against austerity, Barry Ritholtz:

    But the sentence I never imagined I would ever write is this: Thank goodness for the Federal Reserve.

    Add your comment.


  6.    Another Reminder About the Stupidity of Austerity | Economic Policy Institute

    …smart policy-making shouldn't have targeted similar increases in government spending during the 2009 recovery, but much larger increases. Instead, we ramped spending down and torpedoed a rapid recovery.

    The reasons Josh Bivens gives are exactly why we said all along that the fiscal stimulus was magnitudes of order too small.

    Add your comment.


  7.    St. John to require absentee owners to register properties : News

    The St. John [Missouri] City Council on Monday night gave final approval to ordinances that require owners of vacant and rental properties to register with the city.

    The aim of the ordinances is to keep track of absentee landlords and help the city recoup some of the cost of monitoring and inspecting vacant properties.

    Add your comment.


  8.    Seattle selling landlord's properties as 'last resort' | www.kirotv.com

    The city of Seattle is taking control over Clyde Yancey's eight homes by a court order to try and recoup $2.1 million in fines he owes.

    Add your comment.


  9.    Valley man accused of defrauding $360,000 from real estate investors

    A Modesto man was arrested Tuesday on allegations he mislead victims into putting funds into what they believed were legitimate real estate investments.

    Add your comment.


  10.    Home Prices Climb For 28th Month – Business Insider

    "Home price appreciation continued moderating in June with its slight month-over-month increase," Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic said in a press release. "This reversion to normality that we are finally experiencing is expected to continue across the country and should further alleviate concern over diminishing affordability and the risk of another asset bubble."

    Add your comment.


  11.    Apps to Help Analyze & Operate Commercial Real Estate – YouTube

    Join host Michael Bull and CEO of CRE Tech and CCIM instructor, Todd Kuhlmann as they discuss Apps to power your business including presentations, analytics, travel, marketing and sourcing real estate, video conferencing, and many more.

    Add your comment.


  12.    Mortgage Rates Just Barely Higher; Some Afternoon Improvements

    Matthew Graham:

    The mortgage-backed-securities (MBS) that dictate mortgage rates are almost always moving in the same direction as Treasuries, but by varying degrees.

    The following is our understanding. Ask yourself: You're overseas or in America. Markets may be negatively disrupted. Where is the safest place to park your cash? If it's in US Treasurys, then Treasury prices go up and yields down. All other things being equal, that relieves pressure on interest rates (mortgage rates). The safer the longer-term Treasurys (the longer the disruption), the longer the impact on mortgage rates.

    Add your comment.


  13.    Canadians Can't Drink Their Water After 1.3 Billion Gallons of Mining Waste Flows Into Rivers

    A breach in a tailings pond from the open-pit Mount Polley copper and gold mine sent five million cubic meters (1.3 billion gallons) of slurry gushing into Hazeltine Creek in B.C. That's the equivalent of 2,000 Olympic swimming pools of waste, the CBC reports. Tailings ponds from mineral mines store a mix of water, chemicals and ground-up minerals left over from mining operations.

    The flow of the mining waste, which can contain things like arsenic, mercury, and sulfur, uprooted trees on its way to the creek and forced a water ban for about 300 people who live in the region. That number could grow, as authorities determine just how far the waste has traveled. The cause of the breach is still unknown.

    Deeper look:

    Add your comment.


  14.    Lakes formed by quake in China threaten flooding – Hindustan Times

    Rescuers raced Tuesday to evacuate villages near rising lakes formed by landslides, complicating relief efforts following a strong earthquake in southern China that killed at least 398 people and has left thousands homeless.

    Add your comment.


  15.    275 More Homes Evacuated because of Oregon Wildfire

    Wildfires are forcing residents everywhere to evacuate their homes. After the wildfire that had been threatening the Columbia River George community of Rowena had cleared, residents could see the flames coming from the city of The Dalles, only six miles away.

    Last week, the biggest Oregon wildfire burned six homes in the Siskiyou Mountains. Gov. John Kitzhaber asked Congress to invest in more forest-thinning projects so that the risk of wildfires can be reduced.

    The Governor added that these wildfires point to a forest health issue. According to him, the root causes have to be addressed and this may mean that Congress see to the matter of improving the resiliency and health of U.S. forests and produce jobs while doing so.

    He's right.

    Add your comment.


  16.    Landslide hits Utah neighborhood, destroys home

    NORTH SALT LAKE, Utah (AP) — A landslide struck an upscale suburban Salt Lake City community on Tuesday, destroying a home and forcing evacuations as a rain-soaked hillside tumbled from above.

    Add your comment.


  17.    Flash floods damage more than 30 California homes Page 1 of 2 | UTSanDiego.com

    "We were just kind of deciding should we make a go of it, to cross or not, when there was a 10-foot high wall of water and debris and logs coming toward us," he said. "It sounded like thunder coming down the river. Me and my friend had to scramble up a cliff to get out of the way of it."

    … The most significant damage was on Goat Hill Road, where a landslide buried some homes up to their roofs.

    Add your comment.


  18.    Speedy Prefab: How a 9-Story Apartment Was Built in 5 Days | Urbanist

    We see conceptual modular designs of this kind all of the time, but rarely such exquisite real-world proof of how fast construction can be in the age of prefabrication.

    The recently-completed One9 building in Melbourne, Australia, using the Hickory Group's Unitized Building system to install 34 units in less than 1 week around a prefab-paneled concrete core.

    Add your comment.


  19.    Why Real Estate Investors Continue To Make The Same Mistakes Over & Over Again? — shellyrobersonrealtor.com

    Any time of day you turn on your television you can find several infomercials or shows which depict investing in real estate as an easy path to riches and wealth. Every day you get in front of your computer screen you will run across ads and coy and clever marketing programs which also suggest that you should quit your job and begin a high-powered career in real estate investing. The truth is that real estate investing, like every business requires significant education, due diligence, and perseverance. Importantly, most new real estate investors make many mistakes along the way which are sometimes avoidable, but do help with the education process and learning curve. Here are some very important topics which you need to become familiar with before you begin your journey down the path to real estate investing.

    Add your comment.


  20.    Are the Chinese Buying Out Manhattan and What does it Say About the Economy of China? | Forex Magnates

    We don't agree with the article downplaying the Chinese real-estate bubble, but we like the following observation:

    China is not buying America, same as Japan was not buying America in the 1980's despite the rhetoric at the time. Foreign real estate investors represent only 7% of the total spent in the $1.2 trillion U.S market and Chinese are only a quarter of that. Chinese investors are attracted to popular urban centers such as New York and therefore seem to take over everything, when in reality they only make up less than 2% of the national market.

    Add your comment.


  21.    Philippines: From "Sick Man of Asia" to "the Next Asian Miracle" | Enterprising Investor

    Tetangco identified three sources of risks to the economy:

    1. inflation,
    2. the impact of the Fed taper, and
    3. rapid growth in domestic liquidity and credit.

    Add your comment.


  22.    Fed Hawks Squawk – Tim Duy's Fed Watch

    One of the best Fed watchers/analysts: Tim Duy:

    …it is worth dispensing with the myth of "immaculate inflation." Fed hawks seem to believe that low unemployment is sufficient to send inflation screaming higher. They see the 1970s under every carpet, behind every closet door. But the relationship between unemployment and inflation is simply very weak:

    At the moment, we are focused on wages as the missing part of the higher rate equation. But that is too narrow of an analysis. Also on Yellen's side is low actual inflation and anchored inflation expectations. To be sure, the Fed will be under increasing pressure to begin normalizing policy if unemployment drops below 6%. At that point the Fed will be sufficiently close to their objectives that they will believe the odds of falling behind the curve will rise in the absence of movement toward policy normalization. But without a more pressing threat to inflation expectations from a combination of actual inflation in excess of the Fed's target and wage growth to support that inflation, Yellen has room to normalize policy at a gradual pace. For now, the data is still on her side and the hawks will remain frustrated, much as they have for the past several years.

    Yellen is not any longer targeting 6% but something closer to 5% due to low wages and smaller work weeks (fewer hours), and lower participation, etc. Plus, she's likely to use some of the new tools much more than the basic interest rate. Lastly, we think she believes that the markets will react much faster than they used to because of the Internet and the speed at which everyone is dragged on board.

    Add your comment.


  23.    Real estate taxes soar along with home prices – SFGate

    Kathleen Pender

    The government provides many incentives to homeownership, including the mortgage-interest deduction and capital gains exclusion. But the interest deduction is generally limited to interest on $1.1 million in mortgage debt. And the capital gains exclusion is limited to the first $250,000 in profit ($500,000 if married) from the sale of a primary residence.

    With median home prices pushing or hitting $1 million in parts of the Bay Area, the value of those incentives is starting to erode for some.

    The article also discusses transfer taxes.

    Add your comment.


  24.    Charleston Daily Mail | Demolition bill protecting historic Charleston properties advances

    A proposed delayed demolition ordinance in Charleston passed its first test Wednesday, receiving unanimous approval from the city's Municipal Planning Commission.The law would delay the destruction of historic properties in the city for no more than 135 days after a demolition permit is requested. The delay is established in the hope that some alternate use could be found for the building."It's just a period of cooling down and thinking through the process before you tear down a historic building," said Councilwoman Mary Jean Davis, who is on the commission.

    Add your comment.


  25.    Hercules: Suspect arrested in Craigslist scam to rent out house for sale – ContraCostaTimes.com

    A 21-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of running a Hercules real estate scam, police said.

    Authorities say Gino Eckstein, of San Francisco, tried through Craigslist to rent out a home in the 1900 block of Pheasant Drive that was on the market to be sold.

    Add your comment.


  26.    BofA reportedly in $17-billion settlement over toxic loan securities – LA Times

    Bank of America Corp. has agreed to fork over nearly $17 billion to settle government claims over toxic mortgage securities….

    …$9 billion in cash penalties and the rest in mortgage modifications and other consumer relief — remained tentative Wednesday…..

    At issue are $245 billion in soured home loans….

    The Charlotte, N.C., bank already has run up about $60 billion in losses and legal settlements related to Countrywide. The takeover has often been described as the worst deal in the history of banking.

    …Bernie Sanders, the independent U.S. senator from Vermont.

    "Given the reality that, as part of the bailout, the Bank of America received more than $1 trillion in virtually zero-interest loans, and that nobody from the company has yet gone to jail, this is a very modest settlement."

    We said at the time that acquiring Countrywide was nothing short of financial insanity.

    Frankly, the government should have blocked it. Countrywide should have been written down. Fraudulently created loans should have fallen on investors and those borrowers who lied on applications. Though proving who lied, Countrywide or the applicants, would have been difficult, it would have been part of the cost of the reckless/insane deregulation and low-interest wave brought to the world via libertarians and those who leaned that way, such as Alan Greenspan, et al.

    Add your comment.


  27.    Fed looms as major factor in Treasury borrowing outlook – MarketWatch

    How much debt the U.S. government needs to issue to the market beyond 2015 depends in large part on the Federal Reserve, according to a report released by the Treasury Department on Wednesday.

    The U.S. central bank is now, as part of its massive bond buying program, known as QE3, reinvesting principal payments from its $4 trillion balance sheet into new issuances of Treasury debt.

    With the economy improving and all eyes on the Fed's exit strategy, the central bank has been debating when it should end the practice.

    The practice that should end is the government borrowing even a dime. The currency should be issued without creating any corresponding debt.

    Add your comment.


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