News: Real Estate, Risk, Economics. Aug. 4, 2016

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Table of Contents
(Click to sections below.)

1) LA Times – Deadly Soberanes fire on Central Coast forces 350 residents to flee, destroys 44 structures

2) Feds expand crackdown on secret real estate deals beyond Miami, Manhattan | Bradenton Herald

3) 5 Ways to Ride the Tide of Rising Home Prices | Money Talks News

4) Apartment market 'increasingly jittery' for investors

5) Q2 GDP: US and Eurozone economies sail into the doldrums — Prime Economics

6) IMF admits disastrous love affair with the euro and apologises for the immolation of Greece

7) The Seattle Minimum Wage Experiment So Far | Moody's Analytics Economy com

8) "Why Argue With the Government When You Can Buy the Government?": Q&A with Gary Reback –

9) Breedlove Network Sought Weapons Deliveries for Ukraine – SPIEGEL ONLINE

10) Ireland jails three top bankers over 2008 banking meltdown | Reuters

11) Inspector Killed After Recently Evicted Home Explodes in Nebraska

12) Microsoft Says Windows 10 Is a Hit, But Many Users Beg To Differ | Enterprise Security Today

13) Kansas' "Recession" Didn't Cause Budget Problems — Tax Cuts Did – Kansas Center for Economic Growth

14) Australia's property market in mother of all bubbles – Crikey

15) Two-Thirds of Americans Support Free College Tuition – NBC News

16) Massachusetts Bans Employers From Asking Applicants About Previous Pay – The New York Times

17) No 'helicopter money'? Japan disappoints markets with new fiscal plan

18) Private Real Estate Investor | Global Holdings | Ofer Family

19) Housing market in Flint shows signs of comeback

20) Rent prices increasing outside Seattle

21) Apartment Transaction Growth Moderates to 5% in 2Q | Multifamily Executive Magazine

22) Phoenix Reinvented with Recent Wins and Energized Downtown | Market Share

23) A new American radical liberalism can counter Trump | Mike Konczal | Opinion | The Guardian

24) This Is Your Life, Brought to You by Private Equity – The New York Times

25) Real Estate Industry Opposes Blanket Ban on Signs in Road Medians, Near Sidewalks – Bethesda Beat – Bethesda, MD

26) 876 Syracuse properties added to flood zone, requiring costly insurance | syracuse com

27) Can Jill Carry Bernie's Baton? A Look at the Green Candidate's Radical Funding Solution | WEB OF DEBT BLOG

28) The Effect of Rising Sea Levels on Coastal Homes – Zillow Porchlight

29) mainly macro: Should economics be democratised?

30) Building a Progressive International

31) China regulator shutters 10,000 funds | Reuters

32) The Happiness Industry by William Davies review — why capitalism has turned us into narcissists | Books | The Guardian

33) Why Democracy Requires Trusted Experts

34) The Time Has Come to Turn the GSEs into Utilities | Bank Think

35) Fannie Mae Posts $2.9B Profit in 2Q; Paying $2.9B Dividend | Business News | US News

36) FannieGate In Court Of Appeals: Excursus 1 – Profitability Of GSEs – Fannie Mae (OTCMKTS:FNMA) | Seeking Alpha

37) Lowell to track list of vacant properties – Lowell Sun Online

38) Tips For Multifamily Investors – YouTube

39) mainly macro: If only someone had warned us

40) Cash handouts are best way to boost British growth, say economists | Business | The Guardian

41) Regulatory Capture is Not "Inevitable" –

42) Economics: Singular currency : Nature : Nature Research

43) How to Best Work With Contractors as an Investor (An Ex-Contractor's Point of View)

44) Pokemon Go Triggers Trespass Class Action Suit Against Niantic

45) New York AG Charges Engineering Firm with Doctoring Sandy Claims Reports

46) Increased Metal Theft Risk at Vacant Properties Can Cause Costly Repairs

47) Colorado Homeowners Recognize Value of Wildfire Mitigation

  1.    LA Times – Deadly Soberanes fire on Central Coast forces 350 residents to flee, destroys 44 structures

    Southern California's deadly Sand fire was largely under control Thursday, but a massive wildfire burning north of Big Sur has grown to more than 27,000 acres and destroyed 44 structures, fire officials said.

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  2.    Feds expand crackdown on secret real estate deals beyond Miami, Manhattan | Bradenton Herald

    How could it not happen?

    Unlike the banking and mortgage industries, real estate does not have strict reporting or due diligence requirements. Realtors and other industry players do not have to know or investigate their customers. That could change.

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  3.    5 Ways to Ride the Tide of Rising Home Prices | Money Talks News

    A word of caution: It's reassuring to know that since the recession, the federal government has installed consumer protections that stop lenders and borrowers from committing most of the crazy mortgage excesses that caused the housing crash.

    But it's still important to be careful when taking on debt. Other stuff could happen. There's no guarantee we won't have another recession. You could lose your job, or become injured and unable to work.

    It is also possible you will wake up one day and realize you hate your job and need to return to school or retrain. Or maybe your spouse might need to step away from work to care for elderly parents or stay home with the kids.

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  4.    Apartment market 'increasingly jittery' for investors

    Commercial lending has tightened dramatically, and the loans are getting smaller. That will mean less construction and a more balanced market on the high end. The trouble is, that tightening also hits affordable rental housing, which is most in need.

    When will developers get the message that moving government to vastly increase subsidizing affordable housing will not hurt their high-end developments but actually help them?

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  5.    Q2 GDP: US and Eurozone economies sail into the doldrums — Prime Economics

    More concerning, and perhaps more surprising, were the Q2 results from the United States. Here to the quarter-on-quarter increase in "real" GDP was just 0.3%, annualised (in the US manner of presentation) as 1.2%. This followed a revised (down) annualised Q1 of an exiguous 0.8%, following 0.9% for Q4 2015.

    Comparing Q2 2016 with Q2 2015, we see that the actual annual increase was also just 1.2%, down on the Q1 increase of 1.6%. The Q2 figures are very disappointing, given that the US employment and unemployment figures have seemed to be relatively strong recently, with the official US unemployment well below 5%.

    In fact, we can see that the US economy has been decelerating (taking the annual rate of change) quarter by quarter for over a year.

    While personal consumption has held relatively firm in Q2 in volume terms, after slowing in previous quarters, private investment has continued on a sharp downward slope.

    No surprise here. My readers know I've said I still see a slowdown.

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  6.    IMF admits disastrous love affair with the euro and apologises for the immolation of Greece

    Some staff members warned that the design of the euro was fundamentally flawed but they were overruled.

    At root was a failure to grasp the elemental point that currency unions with no treasury or political union to back them up are inherently vulnerable to debt crises. States facing a shock no longer have sovereign tools to defend themselves. Devaluation risk is switched into bankruptcy risk.

    The attempt to force through an "internal devaluation" of 20pc to 30pc by means of deflationary wage cuts was self-defeating since it necessarily shrank the economic base and sent the debt trajectory spiralling upwards. "A fundamental problem was the inconsistency between attempting to regain price competitiveness and simultaneously trying to reduce the debt to nominal GDP ratio," it said.

    "If preventing international contagion was an essential concern, the cost of its prevention should have been borne — at least in part — by the international community as the prime beneficiary," it said.

    Better late than never.

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  7.    The Seattle Minimum Wage Experiment So Far | Moody's Analytics Economy.com

    So far though, things look about as you would expect given what we know about minimum wages: Some benefit, and others lose.

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  8.    "Why Argue With the Government When You Can Buy the Government?": Q&A with Gary Reback –

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  9.    Breedlove Network Sought Weapons Deliveries for Ukraine – SPIEGEL ONLINE

    Okay, so you're an economist or a real estate investor. Should you give a damn about global risk-management?

    Well, what kind of economy and real estate would we have after WWIII? Think that's hyperbolic?

    … Karber is a highly controversial figure. During the 1980s, the longtime BDM employee, was counted among the fiercest Cold War hawks. Back in 1985, he warned of an impending Soviet attack on the basis of documents he had translated incorrectly.

    He also blundered during the Ukraine crisis after sending photos to US Senator James Inhofe, claiming to show Russian units in Ukraine. Inhofe released the photos publicly, but it quickly emerged that one had originated from the 2008 war in Georgia.

    By November 10, 2014, at the latest, Breedlove must have recognized that his informant was on thin ice. That's when Karber reported that the separatists were boasting they had a tactical nuclear warhead for the 2S4 mortar. Karber himself described the news as "weird," but also added that "there is a lot of 'crazy' things going on" in Ukraine.

    The reasons that Breedlove continued to rely on Karber despite such false reports remain unclear. Was he willing to pay any price for weapons deliveries? Or did he have other motives? …

    What's more: Nuland, a diplomat who shares many of the same views as Breedlove, could move into an even more important role after the November election — she's considered a potential candidate for secretary of state.

    It's not hyperbolic. The people clamoring for war with Russia are causing real concerns among very sober, very rational minds.

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  10.    Ireland jails three top bankers over 2008 banking meltdown | Reuters

    The trio will be among the first senior bankers globally to be jailed for their role in the collapse of a bank during the crisis.

    Iceland has jailed more bankers than any other nation-state I know of. Per capita, the US would have to lock up thousands to match what Iceland's done.

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  11.    Inspector Killed After Recently Evicted Home Explodes in Nebraska

    "Foul play is a possibility. But just as possible is that there was a gas leak …."

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  12.    Microsoft Says Windows 10 Is a Hit, But Many Users Beg To Differ | Enterprise Security Today

    I keep seeing horror stories. For the record, I did not upgrade. I blocked everything Windows 10 very early on, but it took much more doing than it should have.

    Sure, plenty of people like Windows 10. Fine. I have a great deal invested in Windows 7 that would take weeks of work to get back up and running on a Windows 10 machine, and then there are the unknowns and the things that simply would not transfer, as this article spells out.

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  13.    Kansas' "Recession" Didn't Cause Budget Problems — Tax Cuts Did – Kansas Center for Economic Growth

    A so-called recession at the end of 2015 is being inaccurately blamed by some for state revenues coming in below expectations. Don't be misled. Our revenue problems occurred a full year before the economic downturn — and the reason was unaffordable and unprecedented tax cuts.

    Once again the message is clear: … tax cuts to benefit a few wealthy Kansans doesn't bring prosperity to all of our families and communities.

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  14.    Australia's property market in mother of all bubbles – Crikey

    How long will the boom last? Potentially some time. There are a lot of vested interests (banks, real estate industry, state governments, the media) who are utterly reliant on the bubble continuing. Sadly, a couple of generations of Australians will be all the poorer for it.

    I'm surprised it hasn't already popped. It's 100% psychological. When enough people realize and start taking profits, the bottom will fall out. It always has.

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  15.    Two-Thirds of Americans Support Free College Tuition – NBC News

    The vast majority of those who aren't for it would be for it if they were to realize that free college would not require increased taxes or governmental borrowing.

    Most people haven't a clue were money comes from in the first place, which just goes to show how lacking our educational system is.

    The government can, and should, create the money without borrowing. Doing that to fund free college would not increase inflation but would increase Gross Domestic Product/productivity.

    It's actually child's play, but the bankers do not want you to know it.

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  16.    Massachusetts Bans Employers From Asking Applicants About Previous Pay – The New York Times

    This will help not just women. I'm not referring to men being indirectly helped by women getting equal pay for equal work. I'm referring to men also not being held down due to former pay "status."

    I say this move is good all the way around.

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  17.    No 'helicopter money'? Japan disappoints markets with new fiscal plan

    What are they afraid of? They put it off and put it off. For what? The longer they wait, the more needless suffering will continue.

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  18.    Private Real Estate Investor | Global Holdings | Ofer Family

    Industry insiders told TRD the paradigm shifted during the financial crisis, when many ultra-wealthy families lost significant sums of cash because they were invested in seemingly sophisticated financial products saddled with risky underlying collateral. As a result, sources said, these investors grew increasingly eager to make direct investments.

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  19.    Housing market in Flint shows signs of comeback

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  20.    Rent prices increasing outside Seattle

    The Puget Sound Business Journal reports that the cities around Seattle are seeing such rent increases because people are getting priced out of Seattle.

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  21.    Apartment Transaction Growth Moderates to 5% in 2Q | Multifamily Executive Magazine | Dispositions and Transactions, Equity Investors, Multifamily Trends, Transactions

    "Across property sectors, volume trends into Q2 '16 suggest a move toward a risk-off stance on the part of investors," RCA wrote. "Apartments are viewed as a lower-risk asset, and investment activity is up across all major geographies and subtypes save the mid- and high-rise segment in the six major metros."

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  22.    Phoenix Reinvented with Recent Wins and Energized Downtown | Market Share

    As Phoenix's Deputy Economic Development Director, I often tell people, "If you haven't been to Phoenix in the last three years, you haven't been to Phoenix." The reasons go beyond the investments in light-rail, an award-winning convention center, sporting venues and construction cranes on every horizon. The game changers were thoughtful planning and really gutsy decision-making ….

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  23.    A new American radical liberalism can counter Trump | Mike Konczal | Opinion | The Guardian

    This is the New Deal dressed up for today. It's still "saving capitalism from itself." To what end?

    The US shouldn't be a "capitalist" or "socialist" nation. It should be a democracy, which contrary to what is so often claimed, it isn't. The People aren't represented, they don't have a real voice, when politicians can lie every 2, 4, or 6 years and then do something entirely different from their promised lies and with the People having no ability to instantly recall those liars and replace them with those who will truly represent them.

    Frankly, we don't really need nearly as much "representative" democracy as is typically assumed. We could have better government with much more direct democracy.

    Lastly, we don't need to, and shouldn't, borrow as a government.

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  24.    This Is Your Life, Brought to You by Private Equity – The New York Times

    As a rule, I hate privatization!

    A few years ago, that glass of water might have come from your local government. Today, it could be courtesy of a private equity firm. It may taste the same, but there's a good chance your bill has gone up.

    When I was in college studying political science, we studied privatization. Privatization wasn't big back then. The reason was because we knew that once something is privatized, governments lose the managerial expertise to run the thing. Therefore, governments are less likely to take back ownership. Privatizers know this. They bid low to get the business. They then raise prices and often provide worse services than the government did for the People.

    So, what happened? The anti-democratic movement that ushered in the Reagan era happened. What was the result? The culmination was the Great Recession. Along the way, we also got astronomical student-debts. Let's not leave out offshoring of American jobs, which could have stayed here while other nations were helped to come up to US safety, labor, and environmental standards.

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  25.    Real Estate Industry Opposes Blanket Ban on Signs in Road Medians, Near Sidewalks – Bethesda Beat – Bethesda, MD

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  26.    876 Syracuse properties added to flood zone, requiring costly insurance | syracuse.com

    This makes flood insurance sound like a wasted expense.

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  27.    Can Jill Carry Bernie's Baton? A Look at the Green Candidate's Radical Funding Solution | WEB OF DEBT BLOG

    Yep! Ellen Brown gets it.

    I have some taxing tweaks on her ideas, but essentially, there very, very similar.

    I go further than does Ellen in that I would make the US Treasury the one and only bank. I would "tax" simply by increasing or decreasing the money supply via increasing or decreasing account balances at that one bank. The rest would be democracy, which is the only solution.

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  28.    The Effect of Rising Sea Levels on Coastal Homes – Zillow Porchlight

    Let's not be complacent about this.

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  29.    mainly macro: Should economics be democratised?

    Democratizing economics is not the same thing as democratizing the economy. The economy definitely should be democratized, which would put the economic technocrats out of work, at least in the form they know it.

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  30.    Building a Progressive International

    Yanis Varoufakis:

    Clinton vs. Trump constitutes a genuine battle, for example, as does the European Union vs. the Brexiteers; but the combatants are accomplices, not foes, in perpetuating an endless loop of mutual reinforcement, with each side defined by — and mobilizing its supporters on the basis of — what it opposes.
    The only way out of this political trap is progressive internationalism, based on solidarity among large majorities around the world who are prepared to rekindle democratic politics on a planetary scale. If this sounds Utopian, it is worth emphasizing that the raw materials are already available.

    The Great Deflation poses a great question: can humanity design and implement a new, technologically advanced, "green" Bretton Woods — a system that makes our planet ecologically and economically sustainable — without the mass pain and destruction preceding the original Bretton Woods?
    If we — progressive internationalists — won't answer that question, who will? Neither of the two political blocs now vying for power in the West even wants it to be posed.

    True.

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  31.    China regulator shutters 10,000 funds | Reuters

    China's funds regulator said on Monday it has canceled the licenses of over 10,000 funds, amid a crackdown on the country's poorly regulated fund management sector, which has been dogged by runaway managers and misappropriation of investments.

    And the people who've been ripped off, what do they get?

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  32.    The Happiness Industry by William Davies review — why capitalism has turned us into narcissists | Books | The Guardian

    I'm for cooperation, not competition. I was that way before I read this article. In fact, I was that way before I could read.

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  33.    Why Democracy Requires Trusted Experts

    In the United States, for example, a Pew Research survey found that 67% of adults think that scientists lack a clear understanding about the health effects of genetically modified organisms. Mistrust of GMOs is even higher in Europe. Whereas overall support for science remains strong, many citizens believe that it is manipulated by special interests, and on some issues, the common view departs from the established evidence.

    Look, people learn to trust those whose track records are better.

    I for one, read Gilles-Éric Séralini's research on GMOs and the criticisms of his work by the GMO industry and then his response to the criticisms. I watched his researched pulled from publication only to be reinstated after the dust had settled. It's far from the first time I've done that sort of thing. So when someone says "scientific consensus," I reserve judgment until enough open facts are in.

    There's no doubt whatsoever that huge corporations are profit driven and need to be well regulated or most will run right over the health of the public and the planet for short-term gain at everyone else's negative expense.

    That's why transparency is first and foremost in real democracy, not "experts."

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  34.    The Time Has Come to Turn the GSEs into Utilities | Bank Think

    Joshua Rosner:

    It was only when the companies' executives pushed them to become growth stocks that they went off the rails. From 1992 until the 2008 financial crisis, the companies suffered weak oversight and transformed from conservative utilitylike entities into growth companies promising investors a 20% annual return. Congress directed them to take on more leverage and risk by creeping into more direct competition with primary market lenders. The financial crisis, when it arrived, decimated both companies.

    The government does not have to provide water and power to constituents; instead it charters private companies as utilities to do so under tight supervision and control. Private investors in these companies get a modest, regulated return in good times and bad, in exchange for leaving permanent capital in place.

    Joshua is right about what caused the problem but is wrong about what to do about it.

    It's true that getting rid of the utility aspects of Fannie and Freddie would be unwise and for the reasons Joshua cited; however, there is zero reason why Fannie and Freddie should be private enterprises. Why should investors make money off the American people getting already costly loans? Capital isn't the reason, as the government could supply that without private investors.

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  35.    Fannie Mae Posts $2.9B Profit in 2Q; Paying $2.9B Dividend | Business News | US News

    Washington-based Fannie Mae also will pay a dividend of $2.9 billion to the U.S. Treasury next month. With that payment, Fannie will have paid a total $151.4 billion in dividends.

    Fannie received $116 billion from taxpayers when the financial crisis struck in September 2008.

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  36.    FannieGate In Court Of Appeals: Excursus 1 – Profitability Of GSEs – Fannie Mae (OTCMKTS:FNMA) | Seeking Alpha

    Look, I don't like this entire system, but I don't want privatization. I want housing to be a public right. I want that to be decided via real democracy (transparent and highly direct).

    Workers deserve their wages, but there's no point in some becoming astronomically rich via a rigged economy, rigged for them, for their benefit over the general welfare of the People as a whole and individually.

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  37.    Lowell to track list of vacant properties – Lowell Sun Online

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  38.    Tips For Multifamily Investors – YouTube

    Scott Spalding of Bull Realty joins Michael on The Commercial Real Estate Show to discuss where the opportunities are in the multifamily market, trends with sellers, tips for investors, and management tips.

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  39.    mainly macro: If only someone had warned us

    Simon Wren-Lewis:

    For some years now the clear consensus among academic economists is that, when rates are at their lower bound, you need fiscal stimulus. Although Conservatives have disowned 2015 Osborne austerity, they appear not to have backtracked on his 2010 version. If they do nothing now, we will know that they are wedded to pre-Keynesian 1930s economics.

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  40.    Cash handouts are best way to boost British growth, say economists | Business | The Guardian

    "…Instead of policies designed to fuel asset price bubbles and increase household debt, the Treasury and the Bank of England should cooperate to directly stimulate aggregate demand in the real economy."

    It's about time this went mainstream. I've been pushing fiscal spending (without borrowing) for years and years now.

    Join in and don't stop. I won't.

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  41.    Regulatory Capture is Not "Inevitable" –

    William K. Black, associate professor of economics and law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, former senior financial regulator:

    … capture is not inevitable. The reason that the S&L debacle was contained and did not produce a financial crisis is that the ideological economist Richard Pratt, who deregulated and desupervised the industry, was replaced by a non-economist, Edwin Gray, who actually listened to the examiners in the field and to the findings in their "autopsies," which demonstrated that the problem was looting led by the CEOs. The vigor of Gray's reregulation and resupervision of the industry enraged the industry and led to an unintentionally hilarious line by the economist Daniel Brumbaugh.

    "[T]he thrift industry has captured its regulatory process more thoroughly than any other regulated industry in the country" [Daniel Brumbaugh, Thrifts Under Siege: 1988: 173].

    If the S&L industry really was the most successful industry in the thoroughness of its capture of its regulators, then Gray (and a later successor, Timothy Ryan) demonstrated that even the "worst" capture can be arrested within weeks of the arrival of a leader who is not ideologically captured.

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  42.    Economics: Singular currency : Nature : Nature Research

    Jonathan Portes:

    Stiglitz also speculates about the near future. Unsurprisingly, given the shopping list of flaws that he sees in the euro, he thinks that radical reform is necessary for it to survive. That includes fiscal policy that is both more expansionary — with greater scope to increase public investment — and more countercyclical, so that spending can rise rather than fall in a recession. It would also include greater regulation, especially for the financial sector and a new mandate for the European Central Bank that focuses less heavily on price stability and more on growth and employment. Yet Stiglitz fails to distinguish clearly between reforms that are essential to save the euro and those that would be 'nice to have', and that, I would bet, he would recommend equally to non-eurozone countries such as Britain or the United States.

    If such reforms do not happen, Stiglitz recommends either an "amicable divorce" — dissolution of the eurozone — or a move to a more "flexible euro". This is the most innovative and interesting part of the book. He argues for a new, and much more heavily regulated and controlled, international monetary system. States would have much more direct control of both money creation internally and their current account balances externally. He advocates market-based mechanisms for both. "Credit auctions" would demand that private banks pay for the right to expand the money supply, and "trade chits" would force importers to effectively buy tradeable licences to import. Nevertheless, this would be a radical move towards greater state control of the economy.

    I generally like Joseph Stiglitz quite a bit; however, I do not like his vision stated above.

    "Credit auctions" would demand that private banks pay for the right to expand the money supply, and "trade chits" would force importers to effectively buy tradeable licences to import.

    I don't like that. It's insufficiently democratic.

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  43.    How to Best Work With Contractors as an Investor (An Ex-Contractor's Point of View)

    I've been in both contracting and investing to a degree, and this rings true with me.

    Add your comment. Including the article/link number will help.


  44.    Pokemon Go Triggers Trespass Class Action Suit Against Niantic

    You could see this coming, right?

    "At least five individuals knocked on plaintiff's door, informed plaintiff that there was a Pokemon in his backyard, and asked for access to plaintiff's backyard in order to 'catch' the Pokemon."

    Add your comment. Including the article/link number will help.


  45.    New York AG Charges Engineering Firm with Doctoring Sandy Claims Reports

    Well, there's a presumption of innocents in the US. I'll respect that. We'll have to wait to see why the engineering reports differed from the initial subcontractor reports.

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  46.    Increased Metal Theft Risk at Vacant Properties Can Cause Costly Repairs

    Despite attempts to control scrap metal sales, international demand has driven the theft of metals, especially copper.

    Add your comment. Including the article/link number will help.


  47.    Colorado Homeowners Recognize Value of Wildfire Mitigation

    Handle property vegetation wisely and use proper construction materials and techniques. Those things can go a long, long way in reducing fire damage.

    Add your comment. Including the article/link number will help.


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