News: Real Estate, Risk, Economics. Nov. 23, 2015

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Table of Contents
(Click to sections below.)

1) Dilapidated properties target of Kearny legislation | NJcom

2) Beware These 9 Real Estate Code Words – Forbes

3) Economists tested 7 welfare programs to see if they made people lazy. They didn't. – Vox

4) Report: SF Real Estate Due For "Correction" — and Venture Capital Crash | SF Weekly

5) Dosen: Be thankful housing market is rebounding

6) Ask a Real Estate Pro: Scam artist targets house renter – Sun Sentinel

7) Student Housing Continues to Be a Strong Player in Multifamily | Multifamily Executive Magazine

8) EZ Crisis: A consensus narrative | VOX, CEPR's Policy Portal

9) China Cracks $64 Billion `Underground Bank' Moving Money Abroad – Bloomberg Business

10) Shrinking REO Inventory Drives Down Cash Sales Share – DSNews

11) Remarks by Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew on a Press Conference Call Regarding Announcement on Corporate Tax Inversions

12) A model [Germany] needing a fix

13) China's economic blueprint

14) RealTime Economic Issues Watch | Some Big Changes in Macroeconomic Thinking from Lawrence Summers

15) The Expansionary Austerity Zombie – The New York Times

16) US home rental prices rise at slower pace in October

17) Hang Onto Your Wallets: Negative Interest, the War on Cash, and the $10 Trillion Bail-in | WEB OF DEBT BLOG

18) El Niño Helps Create Another Record Year for High Temperatures

19) Northern Oklahoma Rattled by Magnitude 4.7 Quake

20) Tornadoes, Heavy Rain Cause Damage in 10 Mississippi Counties

21) Augusta couple plead guilty to arson and insurance fraud | The Augusta Chronicle

22) The Power And The Impotence Of The ECB – Forbes

23) Yanis Varoufakis: Australia is a 'plaything' of world economic forces it cannot control | World news | The Guardian

24) Police officer among 5 injured in fire at Hancock Center | Chicago Sun-Times

25) Redlands to address crime, blight in areas with vacant properties

26) QE in the Eurozone Has Failed | EconoMonitor

27) Where Construction Jobs Are Booming – Real Time Economics – WSJ

28) Why White House Economists Worry About Land-Use Regulations – Real Time Economics – WSJ

29) China's Unwilling Consumers by Keyu Jin – Project Syndicate

30) A 'Fun House' In Chinese Real Estate – Forbes

31) Housing Market Rebounds, But Its Effect On US Economy Is Not What It Once Was

32) Today's home prices not like the late-2000s housing collapse

33) Five years into austerity, Britain prepares for more cuts | Reuters

34) Baltic Dry Index Falls Below 500 for First Time Ever – gCaptain

35) Mission Accomplished – Tim Duy's Fed Watch

  1.    Dilapidated properties target of Kearny legislation | NJ.com

    Options to remediate the properties could include making repairs or demolishing the buildings, according to the mayor. He added that if the mortgagee fails to act, the town has the authority to demolish buildings after a hearing with the property owner in attendance, but often out-of-state mortgagees do not attend the hearings.

    Add your comment.


  2.    Beware These 9 Real Estate Code Words – Forbes

    From my experience, many of these "code words" should not be taken as signaling the same thing in every case. If I had gone by this article, I would have bypassed good houses for investing.

    "Not a foreclosure, not a short sale"

    This seems like a good thing but is actually kind of a bad thing. Such an upfront warning could mean….

    In my view, "could, but very well may not, mean" should be applied to every one of the 9 expressions in the article.

    Add your comment.


  3.    Economists tested 7 welfare programs to see if they made people lazy. They didn't. – Vox

    For as long as there have been government programs designed to help the poor, there have been critics insisting that helping the poor will keep them from working. But the evidence for this proposition has always been rather weak.

    And a recent study from MIT and Harvard economists makes the case even weaker. Abhijit Banerjee, Rema Hanna, Gabriel Kreindler, and Benjamin Olken reanalyzed data from seven randomized experiments evaluating cash programs in poor countries and found "no systematic evidence that cash transfer programs discourage work." Attacking welfare recipients as lazy is easy rhetoric, but when you actually test the proposition scientifically, it doesn't hold up.

    Of course, skills training would certainly help as would providing public-sector jobs afterwards or during.

    Add your comment.


  4.    Report: SF Real Estate Due For "Correction" — and Venture Capital Crash | The Snitch | San Francisco | San Francisco News and Events | SF Weekly

    An earlier review from Paragon Real Estate showed that while San Francisco home prices do take almost regularly-scheduled tumbles, the trend has nevertheless been ever upwards.

    Those tumbles aren't typically short-term blips, as the chart shows.

    Add your comment.


  5.    Dosen: Be thankful housing market is rebounding

    There are many reasons why Jane could be deciding to sell. According to NAR, the number one reason why she may be looking to make a move is that she feels her current home is too small (16 percent chance). There is also a 14 percent chance that she is moving because of job relocation, and a 13 percent chance that she is moving to be closer to friends and family.

    Add your comment.


  6.    Ask a Real Estate Pro: Scam artist targets house renter – Sun Sentinel

    It's imperative that renters and buyers find out who owns a property and whether it's in foreclosure. Check the property appraiser's website for current ownership information and the county clerk's website for foreclosures.

    Add your comment.


  7.    Student Housing Continues to Be a Strong Player in Multifamily | Multifamily Executive Magazine | Design, Rent Trends, Multifamily Trends, Housing Trends, Student Housing

    "The one thing we always say [to other multifamily companies] is that we have your future renters," says Talbot. "The students we're housing now will be conventional multifamily renters in two to six years, so we always feel like we're on the forefront of product evolution, because we're seeing that consumer before everyone else [does]."

    Fountain Residential's Little agrees that the student housing sector is on the leading edge of multifamily innovation. …

    "The overall student housing market is at 96% occupancy with strong rental rate growth," notes Talbot. "Clearly, the stats aren't indicating that it's a market that's overbuilt, but, rather, it's finally delivering quality product that didn't exist and is being easily absorbed."

    The nature of "attending college" is going to rapidly change right along with hi-tech, but the housing may still serve well regardless.

    Add your comment.


  8.    EZ Crisis: A consensus narrative | VOX, CEPR's Policy Portal

    Richard Baldwin, Thorsten Beck, Agnès Bénassy-Quéré, Olivier Blanchard, Giancarlo Corsetti, Paul de Grauwe, Wouter den Haan, Francesco Giavazzi, Daniel Gros, Sebnem Kalemli-Ozcan, Stefano Micossi, Elias Papaioannou, Paolo Pesenti, Christopher Pissarides, Guido Tabellini and Beatrice Weder di Mauro:

    The Eurozone Crisis broke out in May 2010; it is a long way from finished. Although some positive signs have emerged recently, EZ growth and unemployment are miserable and expected to remain miserable for years.
    A large slice of Europe's youth have been or will be jobless during the critical, formative years of their working lives;
    The economic malaise is feeding extremist views and nationalistic tendencies just when Europe needs to pull together to deal with challenges ranging from the migration crush to possible new financial shocks.

    Worse yet, many of the fragilities and imbalances that primed the monetary union for this crisis are still present.
    Many of Europe's banks face problems of non-performing loans;
    Many are still heavily invested in their own nation's public debt — a tie that means problems with banks threaten the solvency of the government and vice versa;
    Borrowers across the Continent are vulnerable to the inevitable normalisation of interest rates that have been near-zero for years.

    As a first step to finding a broad consensus on what needs to be done to fix the Eurozone, we have written what we consider to be a consensus narrative of the Eurozone Crisis.

    So, what did they find?

    1. There was too much lending from one nation to another.
    2. There was no lender of last resort.
    3. The euro didn't allow individual nations to adjust.

    Okay, what are the answers: no lending, a lender of last resort, scrap the euro? Hardly.

    What then? A nearly pure democratic union (not a corporatocracy or plutocracy), of course.

    Add your comment.


  9.    China Cracks $64 Billion `Underground Bank' Moving Money Abroad – Bloomberg Business

    Do you remember when I strongly suggested that China would seek to stop the outflow of money? It was amazing how openly people were moving money illegally.

    This crackdown is only going to increase. It means that Chinese money illegally going into real estate around the world will dry up. That will slow things.

    China said it cracked the nation's biggest "underground bank," which handled 410 billion yuan ($64 billion) of illegal foreign-exchange transactions, as the authorities try to combat corruption and rein in capital outflows that have hit records this year.

    More than 370 people have been arrested or face lawsuits or other punishment in the case centered in eastern Zhejiang province, the official People's Daily reported on Friday, citing police officials. The case brought the total for underground banking and money-laundering activities to 800 billion yuan since April, the newspaper said.

    The probe began in September last year and the police took almost a year to sort through more than 1.3 million suspicious transactions, the state-run Xinhua News Agency reported separately. The authorities froze more than 3,000 bank accounts, Xinhua said.

    Add your comment.


  10.    Shrinking REO Inventory Drives Down Cash Sales Share – DSNews

    A continuing decline in distressed inventory nationwide, particularly REO properties, has resulted in an accompanying continuing decline in the percentage of home sales that are all-cash transactions, according to data released Thursday by CoreLogic.

    At their peak in January 2011, cash sales accounted for nearly half of all residential home sales in the United States (46.5 percent). Since then, that percentage has steadily declined ….

    Add your comment.


  11.    Remarks by Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew on a Press Conference Call Regarding Announcement on Corporate Tax Inversions

    US Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew:

    "… there is only so much Treasury can do to prevent these tax-avoidance transactions.

    "We look forward to continuing to work with Congress in a bipartisan manner to reform our broken business tax system and to eliminate inversions for good."

    Add your comment.


  12.    A model [Germany] needing a fix

    Wow, anti-progressive, anti-welfare state, anti-environmental …

    Nevertheless, the article is worth reading for some of its points. Just take the rest with more than a grain of salt. Simply dismiss those things is my recommendation.

    Germany certainly can increase its welfare state and environmentalism while also vastly improving economic growth, and Adrian Wooldridge is right that Germany can reinvent itself and adapt quickly.

    German companies successfully seized on the collapse of the Soviet Union to expand into eastern Europe and Russia, and provided China with machine tools for its factories and luxury cars for its factory bosses. But Russia is in recession and China's growth is both slowing and switching to a less investment-hungry model.

    The squeeze on exports will force German industry to confront some deep problems. …

    Add your comment.


  13.    China's economic blueprint

    Structural reform featuring entrepreneurship and innovation, greater openness and win-win international co-operation—these are our priorities for 2016 and beyond. This is our answer to the call for sustainable growth—a blueprint for sharing with the world China's market opportunities and Chinese ingenuity.

    You're still a one-party dictatorship that falsely imagines it can be Marxist and capitalist at the same time. You're not even remotely market socialists anymore. Meanwhile, you particular Chinese don't even trust yourselves with democracy.

    Add your comment.


  14.    RealTime Economic Issues Watch | Some Big Changes in Macroeconomic Thinking from Lawrence Summers

    Adam S. Posen:

    … Summers [Larry Summers] bravely noted that if we suppose the "simple" non-economists who thought technology could destroy jobs without creating replacements in fact were right after all, then the world in some aspects would look a lot like it actually does today: Relative wages of those subject to technological displacement, or the unskilled, would go down; fewer would be employed, whether by choice or not, as a result; and labor input is permanently reduced. This is very scary if correct (and not just because economists would have to again cease being smug). Unless we can somehow transform that sustained lower demand for workers into the widespread leisure of the sort imagined by Keynes and some science fiction writers, with the income redistribution to support it, I would think this is very bad news for social stability and technological progress.

    "…transform that sustained lower demand for workers into the widespread leisure" is exactly what must be done, and it wouldn't be difficult at all except for the plutocrats who will whine about losing their relative wealth, power, and control. They'll just have to get over it. I wish it were already done.

    Add your comment.


  15.    The Expansionary Austerity Zombie – The New York Times

    The doctrine of expansionary austerity — the proposition that cuts in government spending would actually cause higher growth despite their direct negative impact on demand, thanks to the confidence fairy — was all the rage in policy circles five years ago. But it brutally failed the reality test; instead, the evidence pointed overwhelmingly to the continued existence of something very like the old-fashioned Keynesian multiplier.

    Add your comment.


  16.    US home rental prices rise at slower pace in October

    Between September and October, rents fell slightly in Chicago, Philadelphia, Detroit, Minneapolis, Baltimore and Pittsburgh, among other cities.

    Add your comment.


  17.    Hang Onto Your Wallets: Negative Interest, the War on Cash, and the $10 Trillion Bail-in | WEB OF DEBT BLOG

    This is exactly what I've been saying for years and calling for them to issue the money.

    Really, all they really need to do is issue the money; but, they don't want to do that (yet) because, well, commercial bankers.

    It's just a matter of time. "Resistance is futile," said the progressive banking and monetary reformer to the bankers.

    Add your comment.


  18.    El Niño Helps Create Another Record Year for High Temperatures

    El Niño is the Earth's hot, exhaling breath. At least, that's one way of thinking about it.

    The blast of heat from deep within the Pacific Ocean will do more in 2015 than just disrupt weather worldwide. It will push the Earth to another record for heat….

    Actually, that's not a very good way of expressing it. It's just transferring the ever increasing energy, which we need to stop releasing.

    Ah, the article goes on to explain it well.

    Add your comment.


  19.    Northern Oklahoma Rattled by Magnitude 4.7 Quake

    Before they started happening, I was right in saying that the fracking industry would cause earthquakes.

    So, here's the new question. Are these quakes releasing energy such that pent-up energy is being released to avoid a big one, or are these small ones destabilizing the Earth's crust such that they are making a big one more likely? I'm betting it's the latter of the two. Any takers?

    Hopefully, the recklessness will be shut down before we find out, though it may very well be too late already.

    Add your comment.


  20.    Tornadoes, Heavy Rain Cause Damage in 10 Mississippi Counties

    There were tornadoes recently in Texas, and now these in Mississippi.

    Add your comment.


  21.    Augusta couple plead guilty to arson and insurance fraud | The Augusta Chronicle

    Before the insurance company paid more than $500 to help Gantt get back on her feet, the fire was ruled as arson, Homlar said. It was started by a space heater placed next to a mattress.

    Add your comment.


  22.    The Power And The Impotence Of The ECB – Forbes

    Steve Keen:

    The promise was that the economy would be spared the disturbances caused by politicians making economic decisions on political grounds: "pork-barrelling" would be a thing of the past, and we would all be better off for it, for two reasons. Firstly, vital economic decisions would be made without consideration of political advantage. Secondly, the people making those decisions would be economic technocrats, who know how the economy works and would therefore make decisions that made rampant economic instability a thing of the past.

    Clearly the ECB does not know how the economy works. Not only did it—and all other Central Banks—not anticipate the crisis in which it is now embroiled, its policies to try to restore what it sees as normal (unemployment of about 5-6% and inflation of about 2%) have thus far failed. Even on their most favourable forecasts, the Euro region won't achieve its pre-crisis level of output until early 2016. Not only does this make the crisis far longer and deeper than any post-WWII European downturn, it also underscores how poorly Europe has performed compared to the USA. There the 2008 crisis also ranks as the longest and deepest downturn, but the USA returned to pre-crisis output in less than half the time that the Europeans hope that they will end up doing.

    To top it off, the EU and euro are both very poorly designed for fixing the problem.

    Add your comment.


  23.    Yanis Varoufakis: Australia is a 'plaything' of world economic forces it cannot control | World news | The Guardian

    "People have always said to me that Australia is immune to the crisis because during the good times money has come as an investment. Then if things go wrong the rich Chinese will emigrate here and bring their dosh with them."

    But Australia had become a "plaything of forces out of its control", he said, and risked an economic shock as the credit bubble created by China in the wake of the global financial crisis began to deflate.

    Yep.

    Add your comment.


  24.    Police officer among 5 injured in fire at Hancock Center | Chicago Sun-Times

    The blaze started about 2:30 p.m. in the bedroom of a residential unit on the east side of the iconic building at 875 N. Michigan Ave., according to police and fire officials.

    Add your comment.


  25.    Redlands to address crime, blight in areas with vacant properties

    Do you, as a landlord or manager, have an ongoing cooperative arrangement with law enforcement and neighbors concerning the neighborhoods in which you have properties?

    In 2014, the Redlands Police Department had 55 calls for service and so far in 2015, they have had 50 calls for service involving the three houses.

    "I'm happy to report our calls for service since Nov. 1 at the three locations is now zero," said Lt. Travis Martinez on Tuesday.

    The three homes had debris and trash and were attracting criminal elements, Martinez said.

    "In the last year we made arrests for littering, trespassing, drug activity — we even made an arrest for assault with a deadly weapon at one of the houses," Martinez said.

    Add your comment.


  26.    QE in the Eurozone Has Failed | EconoMonitor

    Excellent:

    Thomas Fazi:

    … it's important to differentiate between QE as a purely monetary tool and QE as a monetary-fiscal tool: i.e., an expansionary monetary policy meant to facilitate an expansionary fiscal policy. The two are radically different. Unfortunately, European QE falls squarely in the first category: in other words, Draghi and the other members of European/national establishments continue to base their policy decisions on the assumption that monetary loosening is capable in itself — i.e., without the need for fiscal operations — of stimulating the economy, by easing credit conditions (thus boosting lending) and by depreciating the currency (thus boosting exports). The numbers tell a different story, though.

    According to a recent survey by Commerzbank, quantitative easing has had almost no effect on bank lending: on balance, roughly 85 per cent of the banks said that QE has not increased lending and practically no bank saw a 'considerable' effect of QE. As the report states, 'liquidity is obviously no key factor that limits lending'.

    This confirms what post-Keynesian theory has always advocated: banks do not 'lend out' reserves (or deposits, for that matter). The causality actually works in reverse: when a bank makes a new loan, it simply taps some numbers into a computer and creates brand new money 'out of thin air', which it then deposits into the borrower's account. Only then, if it has insufficient reserves, does the bank turn to the central bank, which is obliged to provide reserves on demand. Pre-existing deposits aren't even touched — or needed, for that matter. In short, the money supply, not unlike the rest of the economy, is endogenously demand-driven. This is why in the face of weak demand, where the economic and profitability prospects offered by the real economy are dim — not to menti on in a deflationary-recessionary context such as the one that the eurozone finds itself it, in which balance sheets are being repaired, household and business demand for credit is weak, corporate insolvencies are on the rise and credit intermediation channels are impaired —, credit dries up, regardless of the amount of QE that a central bank engages in. This is known as a 'credit trap'.

    This is compounded by the fact that average euro area interest rates for companies and households are still relatively high — just above 2 per cent, in the face of very low or even negative inflation rates in a number of countries — despite ECB interest rates being at a historical low.

    To conclude, the last thing the eurozone needs is a further dose of quantitative easing. What it needs is a fiscal expansion aimed at boosting investment and demand through direct injections into the real economy, bypassing a broken financial sector. Quantitative easing for the people, if you like.

    "…which is obliged to provide reserves on demand" provided the institution is, and will remain, solvent. In addition, they don't have to turn to the central bank but can also turn to those other commercial banks with excess reserves to lend. At least that's how it works in the US. There are other ways of borrowing too that you may research if you're interested.

    Add your comment.


  27.    Where Construction Jobs Are Booming – Real Time Economics – WSJ

    Construction employment increased in 43 states including the District of Columbia since last year, the Labor Department said Friday, a bit of good news for a sector still struggling with the effects of the Great Recession.

    A Fed rate-hike is designed to slow the economy. It that a good idea at this point? I don't think so. I think it would be grossly premature and designed to line the bankers pockets instead.

    Add your comment.


  28.    Why White House Economists Worry About Land-Use Regulations – Real Time Economics – WSJ

    There's no doubt that zoning can be overly strict in some cases, but a total lack of zoning can be worse: chaotic, stressful, environmentally hazardous, dangerous, and property-value killing.

    Nick Timiraos

    Add your comment.


  29.    China's Unwilling Consumers by Keyu Jin – Project Syndicate

    Keyu Jin:

    … unlike today's middle-aged workers, for whom shocks like the Cultural Revolution nurtured pragmatism and wariness, China's younger generation are optimistic about the future. They know that they can reasonably expect higher wages than their parents and grandparents earned.

    Moreover, China's younger generation are keenly aware of their quality of life, owing partly to their constant exposure to advanced-country lifestyles. As a result, they are far more inclined than their parents to spend on services and nondurable goods. When they become the main agents of the Chinese economy — that is, when they reach middle age — China's consumption landscape may be completely different, with the country acting as a global buyer, rather than a global seller.

    Were it that simple.

    Add your comment.


  30.    A 'Fun House' In Chinese Real Estate – Forbes

    Kenneth Rapoza:

    Here's the latest fun house mirror trick being employed by some of the 22 provinces. Hurting for revenue on account of the economic slowdown, they are asking developers buy land now or it "won't be available later." In short, they are selling land reserves to construction companies because they need cash, even though developers aren't in any hurry to build. Worried that if they don't buy they'll be locked out sometime in the future, some developers are ponying up cash now. Local governments are getting money, but it's obviously not sustainable. Once that property is sold, the revenue source is a one-time deal.

    Add your comment.


  31.    Housing Market Rebounds, But Its Effect On U.S. Economy Is Not What It Once Was

    Good thing:

    "Consumers are definitely more conservative financially than they were 10 years ago. They've seen that house prices can be volatile," Fannie Mae chief economist Doug Duncan told the Wall Street Journal.

    Another reason is that mortgage lenders are tighter with those funds than they have been in the past. During the housing heyday, it was not uncommon for banks to lend 100 percent against the equity of a home, while today few will go over 80 percent, the Wall Street Journal reports.

    Add your comment.


  32.    Today's home prices not like the late-2000s housing collapse

    … the ratio of home prices to rent stands at about 25 percent below its mid-2000s high, the researchers find. The number is analogous to the price-to-dividend ratio for stocks and provides insight into whether price matches up with the fundamental value of the underlying asset.

    This does not speak to the issue of the wage-to-rent ratio that does more than provide insight into the overall health of the economy.

    If we don't act properly, the number of people living under unhealthy circumstances for the long run will only increase.

    Economic tightening for the benefit of banker profits is not the right move.

    Fiscal spending via debt-free currency (no bond issuances) for public sector jobs and living wages is the right move along with a guaranteed living income for all (means-tested for now).

    Add your comment.


  33.    Five years into austerity, Britain prepares for more cuts | Reuters

    Osborne is due to announce on Wednesday the details of a new spending squeeze which, according to International Monetary Fund data, ranks as the most aggressive austerity plan among the world's rich economies between now and 2020.

    His plan is not only not needed, it's backwards. What he should be doing is spending that will increase demand at the middle- and lower-income levels for homegrown products and services.

    When Osborne's plan fails, when it drives the UK into a needless and counter-productive recession, let's hope the UK voters are wise enough to give Jeremy Corbin his chance to lead the UK out of the Tory errors.

    Add your comment.


  34.    Baltic Dry Index Falls Below 500 for First Time Ever – gCaptain

    This week the Baltic Exchange's main sea freight index , which tracks rates for ships carrying dry bulk commodities and seen by investors as a forward-looking indicator of global industrial activity, plunged to an all-time low.

    Add your comment.


  35.    Mission Accomplished – Tim Duy's Fed Watch

    I mostly agree:

    How will they communicate uncertainty in the path of rate hikes? I wonder if they can simply retain this sentence in the next statement:

    In determining whether it will be appropriate to raise the target range at its next meeting, the Committee will assess progress–both realized and expected–toward its objectives of maximum employment and 2 percent inflation.

    It seems like this could be used to convey uncertainty in subsequent meetings, especially if they choose not to hike in January.

    Bottom Line:  The Fed is set to declare "Mission Accomplished" at the next FOMC meeting. Indeed, many policymakers have already said as much. Absent a very significant change in the outlook, failure to hike rates in December would renew the barrage of criticism regarding their communications strategy that prompted them to highlight the December meeting in their last statement. Once they have communicated their intentions for subsequent rate hikes, they will turn their attention to the issue of normalizing the balance sheet. Even though officials have not committed to a specific path, I am working with a baseline of 100bp of tightening between now and next December, or roughly 25bp every other meeting. I expect that by the second quarter of next year they will begin communicating the fate of the balance sheet. Whether they should hike or not remains a separate issue. Over the next twelve months we will learn the extent of which the Federal Reserve can resist the global downward pull of interest rates. Other central banks have been less-than-successful in their efforts to pull off of the zero bound — not exactly a hopeful precedent.

    I think the tightening will force them to raise rates very slowly and may even force them to backtrack. The balance-sheet issue is a different topic. "Unwinding" has always been completely unnecessary. They have other tricks up their sleeves they want to try out too.

    Add your comment.


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