News: Real Estate, Risk, Economics. Sept. 13, 2014

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Table of Contents
(Click to sections below.)

1) Has France's property market turned a corner?

2) NFIP Flood Insurance Claims Handbook | FEMA gov

3) Southwest China floods kill 44, leave 18 missing – SFGate

4) City looking at damaged properties case by case – Daily Journal

5) Va. to move up hurricane evacuation timeline – The Washington Post

6) No Named Storms First Time Since 2000 at Peak – Bloomberg

7) Austin to buy about 300 more homes after storm | statesman com

8) High-Tech Demand Spilling Into Office Suburbs, Smaller Markets – CoStar Group

9) Seattle Recognized as the Nation's Most Sustainable City | STAR Communities

10) Why China is embracing the circular economy – Forum:Blog Forum:Blog | The World Economic Forum

11) Are Granite Countertops Going Out Of Style? – YouTube

12) Official asks for review of windstorm insurer – Houston Chronicle

13) Plainsman Woman admits setting Huron restaurant afire

14) Fire officials worried about possible rules change | Boston Herald

15) Maine unveils new hurricane planning map – Houston Chronicle

16) Has China's growth only just begun? – Forum:Blog Forum:Blog | The World Economic Forum

17) Schumpeter: The China wave | The Economist

18) It's Tough Out There for Renters, But Most Americans Still Want More Options to Buy a Home – CityLab

19) Progress Residential joins booming REO-to-rental securitization market | HousingWire

20) FHFA changes for Federal Home Loan Banks could cripple housing | HousingWire

21) Developers warn of multifamily glut in NJ real estate – Business – NorthJersey com

22) EconoSpeak: Financial Fraud and the Business Cycle: The Chinese Case

23) Stephen Kinsella: Austerity Defangs the Celtic Tiger – YouTube

24) New Russian sanctions and Nomi Prins on bank fraud – YouTube

  1.    Has France's property market turned a corner?

    Faced with a newbuild shortfall and the failure of its "Target 500K" initiative to build half a million new houses every year to 2017, the government unveiled a slew of measures in early July to boost the sector. These include the simplification of construction rules and regulations as well as the extension of the "0 percent interest loan" to boost middle and low-income first-time buying.

    "After over two years of delays, contradictory decisions, of laws and decrees discouraging investors, the recent announcements go in the right direction: that of realism", Sebastien de Lafond, co-founder and president at MeilleursAgents.com wrote in the report.

    Add your comment.


  2.    NFIP Flood Insurance Claims Handbook | FEMA.gov

    This claims guide was created by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which administers the National Flood Insurance Program, to provide policyholders tips about what to do before and after a flood, including filing a claim, and the steps involved in appealing a denied claim.

    It seems weak concerning pre-flood, but it's packed concerning the rest.

    Add your comment.


  3.    Southwest China floods kill 44, leave 18 missing – SFGate

    BEIJING (AP) — Flooding in southwestern China over the past week has left 44 people dead and 18 missing, and has caused massive damage to housing and crops, the Civil Affairs Ministry said Saturday.

    Constant heavy rain beginning Aug. 31 has caused widespread destruction in Sichuan and Guizhou provinces, as well as the mega-city of Chongqing, where all but one of the deaths occurred and all of the missing were reported.

    Add your comment.


  4.    City looking at damaged properties case by case – Daily Journal

    TUPELO — Last week, the City Council approved the demolition of the Comfort Suites on North Gloster Street, officially declaring the tornado-damaged property a safety and health hazard.

    The council gave hotel owner Fusion Hospitality of Tupelo 120 days to take down and clear the four-story hotel.

    But what about other properties — business and residences — that also are heavily damaged but have not been condemned by the city?

    Shane Hooper, the city's Development Services director, said each property is reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

    Add your comment.


  5.    Va. to move up hurricane evacuation timeline – The Washington Post

    Under the new timeline, the governor would make the first call to local elected officials concerning evacuation plans and activities 72 hours before a storm might hit, up from 48 hours previously. The plan calls for the recommended start of a mandatory evacuation for a Category 3 hurricane at 48 hours, up from 38 hours previously.

    Add your comment.


  6.    No Named Storms First Time Since 2000 at Peak – Bloomberg

    Since 1995, the basin has been in the midst of what is called the warm phase of the Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation. This means it has been warmer than normal and the chances for weaker storms to grow stronger are enhanced, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

    The warm phase often lasts 20 to 40 years. This is the 20th season since it began.

    … "I would say that we need at least one more quiet year to really be convinced that we are heading into an inactive era."

    Add your comment.


  7.    Austin to buy about 300 more homes after storm | www.statesman.com

    AUSTIN, Texas — Leaders of a Central Texas city have approved a $3.5 billion annual budget that includes buying out about 300 more homes in flood-prone areas.
    The Austin City Council on Tuesday approved next year's budget and spending $78 million for residences along Onion Creek and Williamson Creek.

    Add your comment.


  8.    High-Tech Demand Spilling Into Office Suburbs, Smaller Markets – CoStar Group

    The supply of top-quality office space continues to tighten in technology strongholds such as the San Francisco Bay Area, New York and Seattle. The increasingly limited supply is causing fast growing high-tech companies to look in new and unexpected markets in Florida, North Carolina, even former Rust Belt dinosaurs like Detroit and Indianapolis.

    "Rust Belt dinosaurs"? Ouch!

    Add your comment.


  9.    Seattle Recognized as the Nation's Most Sustainable City | STAR Communities

    Seattle, WA (September 10, 2014) – STAR Communities announced today that Seattle has been awarded a 5-STAR Community Rating for national leadership in sustainability. The City achieved the highest score to date, and is only the second in the nation to achieve the 5-STAR rating for its participation in the STAR Community Rating System (STAR), which evaluates the livability and sustainability of U.S. communities.

    Add your comment.


  10.    Why China is embracing the circular economy – Forum:Blog Forum:Blog | The World Economic Forum

    The Chinese economy has grown rapidly and created tremendous wealth. Nominal GDP has grown 7.5 times between 2000 and 2013. Total household income has about doubled between 2005 and 2012 alone and stands to more than triple between 2012 and 2030. By 2030, the upper middle class will make up more than half of urban households. However, this rapid growth puts a tremendous strain on resources. China's growth demands a strong supply of raw materials, water, energy, and food, among others. One potential remedy to resource supply constraints and consequently high resource prices and volatility could be for China to further engage with the concepts and approaches of the circular economy.

    Engaging in circular economy practices helps decouple growth and resource needs. For example, refurbishing products, feeding functional components and recycled materials back into the appropriate value chains, and efficiently utilizing bio cycles, could significantly dampen not just China, but also the world's hunger for untapped resources, while sustaining economic growth.

    Add your comment.


  11.    Are Granite Countertops Going Out Of Style? – YouTube

    Are granite countertops going out of style? When Alison Victoria posed this question to Room & Board customers she received a variety of answers. Watch the video to find out the consensus on granite.

    What are the maintenance issues with granite to which Alison's referring? Are they a large enough drawback to make it more sensible/cost-effective to use another material?

    Add your comment.


  12.    Official asks for review of windstorm insurer – Houston Chronicle

    Texas lawmakers started the association [Texas Windstorm Insurance Association] in 1971. It provides windstorm and hail coverage for those who cannot get it from the voluntary market. The association holds more than 270,000 policies with up to $77 billion in insurance coverage.

    Dewhurst said he wants the Senate Business & Commerce Committee to explore ways to move those under the association's coverage to commercial insurance carriers….

    The issue is affordability. Without affordable rates, people would be forced to move. Who would help them with the loss in property equity? Is that just the risk of having lived near the coast that the state should not help them bear?

    Add your comment.


  13.    Plainsman Woman admits setting Huron restaurant afire

    HURON (AP) — One of two Huron women charged with starting a fire at the Tailgate restaurant in Huron has pleaded guilty to second-degree arson.

    Add your comment.


  14.    Fire officials worried about possible rules change | Boston Herald

    WELLESLEY, Mass. — A draft document on costs of fire alarm and sprinkler systems in Massachusetts could lead to a rollback in requirements in some multi-unit residential buildings, a group of concerned fire officials said Tuesday.

    About 40 fire officials attended a meeting of the Board of Building Regulations and Standards in Wellesley to oppose the draft white paper, which examines the cost and effectiveness of fire systems in buildings with three to six units.

    Add your comment.


  15.    Maine unveils new hurricane planning map – Houston Chronicle

    PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Maine officials say a new hurricane mapping tool will assist emergency officials in preparing for hurricanes.

    Add your comment.


  16.    Has China's growth only just begun? – Forum:Blog Forum:Blog | The World Economic Forum

    Interesting theory:

    The way I view the prospects of the Chinese economy in the coming years is with guarded optimism — guarded because distortions are rampant in the economy, from the vast misallocation of resources to the highly distortionary macroeconomic structure that propels a vicious cycle — but optimistic, for exactly the same reason. The existence of important and pervasive distortions mean that there is still room for growth. The larger the misallocation, the greater the potential for efficiency gains.

    China is different from other countries because it has a highly distorted economy. Central planning in the past left many distortions in place, still waiting to be removed one by one through bouts of individual reforms. Thus, unlike many emerging economies today, and unlike the East Asian Tigers of the past, China has a far more power development tool: reforms. Reforms which reduce distortions, reallocate existing resources to its most productive use, will stimulate productivity growth — inherently much more sustainable than capital accumulation.

    It is true that reforms of the right kinds would work. The author asks the right question in whether the Chinese leadership has what it takes and will do it. Unlike the author, Jin Keyu, we are not optimistic.

    Add your comment.


  17.    Schumpeter: The China wave | The Economist

    In all, what these studies show is that there is more to the rise of Chinese companies than simply an ability to do things on the cheap. They are developing management techniques that help them create things faster, and they are proving adept at reacting quickly in rapidly changing markets. These are skills that will help them cater to the middle classes, not just serve the poor; and to conquer new markets far beyond their home turf.

    Add your comment.


  18.    It's Tough Out There for Renters, But Most Americans Still Want More Options to Buy a Home – CityLab

    Kriston Capps:

    Few Americans today like their chances when it comes to renting an apartment. Chalk it up to the housing crisis or the credit crunch or the slow recovery. Blame it on the Google buses in the cities or rising poverty in the suburbs. Wherever you look, you're bound to find frustrated renters.

    Yet it also appears that hardly anyone wants to do the thing that might alleviate rental stress: build more apartments. While more apartment buildings might give renters a wider range of housing options to suit their immediate needs, Americans are largely holding out to buy homes, according to respondents in the Atlantic Media/Siemens State of the City poll.

    Multifamily housing is booming around the country: According to the National Association of Home Builders, single-family housing starts were up 8.3 percent in July, compared to a 28.9 percent climb for multifamily units. (Multifamily residential construction is driving architecture, too.) In absolute terms there are still more single-family units going up (656,000 in July) than multifamily (437,000). But building permits for multifamily units rose 21.5 percent in July, outstripping single-family units (which rose by less than 1 percent).

    Multifamily construction still isn't what it could be, especially in the hottest metro areas. Yet with U.S. apartment construction hitting a 25-year high in July, the market seems to answering: You can't always get what you want, but sometimes you get what you need.

    Add your comment.


  19.    Progress Residential joins booming REO-to-rental securitization market | HousingWire

    There's been quite a wave of REO-to-rental securitizations.

    There's a new name in the REO-to-rental securitization market. Progress Residential is set to bring a $473.4 million to market soon. The offering is backed by a single loan secured by a first priority of mortgages on 3,142 income-producing single-family rental properties.

    Add your comment.


  20.    FHFA changes for Federal Home Loan Banks could cripple housing | HousingWire

    "…in an interview with Bloomberg a top FHLB representative stated: 'In a period where housing finance is limping along and a sluggish economy needs all the help it can get, mucking around with a model that works doesn't make sense…This proposal may be the first step in dismantling a very successful model. As an anti-liquidity regulation it hurts housing and hurts growth.'

    "We believe that there will be a pushback against the FHFA's FHLB proposal but our sense is that the esoteric nature of this particular issue, coupled with the slate of other FHFA proposals outstanding, may make it difficult to organize an effective opposition campaign," Compass Point said.

    "esoteric" is a good word-choice there.

    Add your comment.


  21.    Developers warn of multifamily glut in NJ real estate – Business – NorthJersey.com

    "For multifamily developers, there are some potential dark clouds on the horizon," said Carl Goldberg, co-president of Mack-Cali Realty Corp.'s Roseland unit. "Is there a point in time when the multifamily market in this geography becomes overbuilt?" That market has been very strong, with major projects announced practically every day in Fort Lee, Jersey City, West New York and Weehawken, Goldberg said. But the preference for luxury rentals could end, he told the audience. Hartz Mountain Industries Inc. of Secaucus has been diversifying its portfolio and expanding into multifamily, but Managing Director Gus Milano said prices on such properties have risen. So instead of buying such residential properties, Hartz is developing its own, he said.

    Add your comment.


  22.    EconoSpeak: Financial Fraud and the Business Cycle: The Chinese Case

    Peter Dorman:

    Booms become frothy, and froth foments fraud. Perhaps. But I suspect the conditions conducive to financial fraud are always in place, and much of the fluctuation is about what we see, not what there is.

    When the dotcom bubble collapsed at the beginning of the 00's we witnessed an epidemic of accounting fraud. Remember Enron, Global Crossing and Arthur Andersen for starters. The CDO deceptions of the mid-decade were exposed by the financial crisis of 2008. No doubt accounting and rating standards deteriorated during the bubble years, but this is not to say they weren't widespread all along. Part of what changed is that the popping of the bubble removed the buffers that normally allow a bending and stretching of the numbers.

    I doubt that this is a culture-bound hypothesis, true for the US but not, say, China. The extraordinary Chinese investment-led boom of the past twenty years can obscure a lot of malfeasance, but if and when the boom ends we'll find out that much of the wealth creation was fictitious. Best-sellers will be written about brazen fraud in high places, as if this were unique to China and its final go-go years. But while it's much easier to call out corruption after the money train has stopped, this doesn't mean that an upsurge of corruption stopped the train.

    Do you think corruption ramps up during a boom? We do.

    Add your comment.


  23.    Stephen Kinsella: Austerity Defangs the Celtic Tiger – YouTube

    Marshall Auerback interviews Stephen Kinsella on Ireland, austerity, the Eurozone, and demographics:

    Ireland was the first of the EMU nations to embrace the austerity mantra, the first of the governments to openly engage in economic policy malpractice by abandoning their responsibilities to advance public purpose. As Stephen Kinsella of the University of Limerick notes in this interview, for all the hope of the "mangy cat" again becoming the "Celtic Tiger," Ireland remains in pretty sorry condition.

    Add your comment.


  24.    [194] New Russian sanctions and Nomi Prins on bank fraud – YouTube

    @ 6:58, Nomi Prins Part 2:

    Erin is joined by Nomi Prins, author of "All the President's Bankers" and senior fellow at Demos, to talk about bank fraud and corporate culture. Prins takes on numerous sticky issues from MF Global to Bernie Madoff to Sarbanes-Oxley.

    Add your comment.


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