News Alerts. Dec. 12, 2013. #RealEstate

Linking ≠ endorsement. Enjoy and share:

  1. Housing double whammy: A whole generation ‘won’t be able to buy or rent a home’ – Home News – UK – The Independent

    A generation of Britons faces a housing “double whammy” as a growing number of people cannot afford to buy or rent a home, according to a report published today [Tuesday, December 10, 2013].

  2. [Recommended] The Most Important Economic Stories of 2013—in 42 Graphs – Matthew O’Brien – The Atlantic

    It’s something to see all of this in one place.

    This one is particularly real-estate centric:

    David Dayen, Salon: What has been generally recognized as a housing recovery has much to do with a spike in all-cash sales, as this chart shows. That comes from two sources: wealthy foreigners picking up homes in America, and institutional investors scooping up properties in communities hard-hit by the housing bubble, with the plan to turn them around for rent (with predictable slumlord-like consequences). As you see here, when mortgage rates rose with the threat of the taper in the summer, the share of all-cash sales rose as well, as financing became less affordable. This chart shows how inequality has manifested itself in housing – potential first-time homebuyers, increasingly debt-burdened and job-insecure, have delayed big purchases, leaving the market to those with cash. The chart also raises questions about the durability of a housing recovery based increasingly on rich people and bargain-hunting investors.

    We aren’t as down on renting relative to ownership as that but would like to see more construction so rents can be affordable across the entire income spectrum.

    You did a nice job, Matthew O’Brien, pulling all of that together.

  3. Barry Eichengreen says that the ECB is thoroughly unequipped to confront Europe’s looming deflationary threat. – Project Syndicate

    What we take away from this piece by Barry Eichengreen as being its most important statements:

    German public opinion also prevents the ECB from cutting interest rates and expanding the supply of money and credit. There is, as always, Germans’ deep-seated fear of inflation to overcome, along with the belief that too much easy credit will weaken the pressure on southern European countries to reform. But a responsible central bank should not cater to irrational fears of inflation in what is in fact a deflationary environment….

    … there is the danger that weak European banks will extend risky loans at a time when they should be making their portfolios less risky. Here, it will be important for the ECB to work closely with national supervisors until it acquires the power next year to supervise directly the 130 largest European banks.

  4. Volcker Rule Sets Us Up for Really Bad Day: Whalen: Video – Bloomberg

    Dec. 10 (Bloomberg) — Chris Whalen, executive vice president at Carrington Holding Co., discusses the outlook for financials with Julie Hyman on Bloomberg Television’s “Money Moves.” (Source: Bloomberg)

  5. Half of renters can’t afford rent, study shows – CBS News

    In the meanwhile, rental units simply aren’t coming on line fast enough. While multi-family construction has rebounded — multi-family starts climbed 31 percent through the first eight months of 2013 to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 294,000 units — construction is still well below the 340,000 annual average prevailing in the decade before the downturn, the study found.

    With demand still elevated and supply still deflated, finding affordable housing will remain a problem, particularly for low-income households, for some time.

    While Herbert stopped short of calling the issue a crisis, he said instead that it is an issue that’s been building for a long time and getting worse.

    “This is certainly something that requires action,” he said.

    If you’re working but can’t afford anything more than putting food on the table after paying rent, including after SNAP benefits, it’s one small misstep, or just some more bad luck, from a full-blown crisis.

    We urgently need more units!

  6. U.S. household wealth reaches record high

    The wealthiest 10% of U.S. households own about 80% of stocks. And home ownership has declined since the recession, particularly among lower-income Americans.

    Monday’s report also showed that total mortgage debt rose 0.9% from the previous quarter. It was the first such increase since early 2009. The rise reflects rising home sales and fewer mortgage defaults, an encouraging sign.

    Americans are also holding more consumer debt outside of mortgages, in the form of student loans, auto loans and credit cards. Consumer debt rose 6% from the previous quarter.

    But with job creation steady and wages rising gradually, Americans appear able to handle the additional borrowing.

    “…wages rising gradually…”? Everything we read says wages are stuck with prices rising. Also, the stock market has its bears. We aren’t at all convinced that the stock market has risen on real fundamentals as much as due to the herd mentality. We do hope though that more people have been truly value investing.

    Does anyone have a link he or she would like to share showing how people are determining the value of the companies behind the stocks they are buying and what percentage of the buying public those people represent?


  7. Debt Crisis Recovery: Bell Curves and Balance Sheets | Invesco US

    Faster recovery in the US compared with the UK and eurozone is attributable not so much to fiscal policy as to bank policy. US banks are in better shape because the Troubled Asset Relief Program systemically injected government capital to repair balance sheets of the largest US banks. The result has been a modest, but slow, increase in lending since 2011. In addition, the US housing market has been performing strongly, with large institutional cash buyers boosting rental housing. But signs of weakening in the housing sector have begun to appear.

    If US private-sector balance sheets continue to heal — ahead of the UK and the eurozone — we’ll likely see gradual resumption of normal, self-sustaining real GDP growth over the next three to five years, which, in turn, would signal the need for gradual interest rate normalization by the Fed.

  8. Ashoka Mody calls for a global fiscal stimulus to prevent the global economy from falling into a vicious cycle of deflation, liquidity traps, and increasingly pessimistic expectations. – Project Syndicate

    At the end of 2008, when the scale of the impending economic destruction was not yet apparent, Olivier Blanchard, the International Monetary Fund’s chief economist, boldly called for a global fiscal stimulus, stating that, in these “not normal times,” the IMF’s usual advice — fiscal retrenchment and public-debt reduction — did not apply. He warned that if the international community did not come together, “vicious cycles” of deflation, liquidity traps, and increasingly pessimistic expectations could take hold.

    Fortunately, world leaders listened, agreeing in April 2009 at the G-20 Summit in London to provide a total of $5 trillion in fiscal stimulus. The US and Germany added stimulus amounting to about 2% of GDP. And China’s banks pumped massive amounts of credit into the country’s economy, enabling it to sustain import demand, which was critical to the global recovery.

    But hubris rapidly set in, and parochial interests took over. Before the wounds had fully healed, the treatment was terminated.

    Now, despite unfavorable political circumstances, Blanchard should make an even bolder call. These are still not “normal” times, and the “vicious cycles” persist. Another global fiscal stimulus — focused on public investment in infrastructure and education — would deliver the adrenaline shot needed for a robust recovery.

    More public investment is twice blessed. It can shake the world out of its stupor; and it can safeguard against “secular stagnation.” The US, Germany, the United Kingdom, France, and China should act together to provide that boost. Otherwise, a sustainable global recovery may remain elusive, in which case 2014 could end in low gear as well.

    We completely agree with Ashoka Mody. Do you agree too?

  9. How Bad Is America’s Income Gap?

    Chris Kahn, research and statistics analyst for, says:

    “Some of the reasons why the income gap is growing so rapidly within this age group [35 to 44 year-olds] are persistently high unemployment, as well as stagnant wages. This stagnation in income, combined with rising prices, is making it more challenging for people to stay in the middle class or move up.”

  10. 3 Very Bearish Charts | PRAGMATIC CAPITALISM

    This short piece by Cullen Roche highlights why we said above that we are not confident that stock-market highs are due to real fundamentals.

    EPS [Earnings Per Share] growth is what the actual earnings growth has generated while multiple expansion represents what buyers are willing to pay for this stream of earnings. As sentiment has soared investors have become increasingly willing to pay for a reduced share of EPS growth.

    That’s the problem; but where else do they have to go with their cash, hands-on real-estate investing? It’s not for everyone and couldn’t support that level of infusion. Suggestions?

  11. November Rental Report | Manhattan Brooklyn Rentals

    Manhattan rents continued to drop in November, as robust sales activity poached some renters and the vacancy rate edged up to the highest level since 2006, according to a monthly Douglas Elliman rental market report released today [December 11, 2013].

    Still a little pricey, wouldn’t you say. It’s all relative. It’s New York City after all.

  12. Surging US equities stir heated debate over possible bubble /Euromoney magazine

    The cyclically adjusted price/earnings ratio is around 25 times compared with the long-term average of 16.5, which, according to this measure, means US equities are overvalued relative to long-term trend, and would take a 35% correction to bring to fair value.

    “I don’t believe QE is driving the market because a lot of money is flowing out of the US and a lot of money is remaining on banks’ balance sheets.” [— Guy Foster, head of portfolio strategy at Brewin Dolphin]

    We would agree with that except for the sheer quantity of money involved due to the Fed’s bond buying. The banks have been hoarding cash but still can’t help themselves from creating a great deal of “hot money” stimulating emerging markets that were shocked by just a little taper talk.

    What we’ve needed are hard investments in infrastructure via fiscal spending by the federal government rather than all this Fed QE (though the Fed has had little statutory choice).

  13. Central Station: Another Job for Central Bankers – Real Time Economics – WSJ

    Translation: If the central bank boosts demand today with cheap credit policies, more people will want to work, more firms will invest, and the economy’s long-run performance will be more robust.

    The idea is contrary to orthodox economics, which holds that central banks control inflation in the long-run, through their management of the money supply, but that they can only smooth out short-run fluctuations and suffering associated with the business cycle. In the long-run — this orthodox view goes — other factors such as demographics, productivity or regulatory policies drive growth and employment. The central bank’s job in this view is to keep inflation low and output as stable as possible. That’s it. The economy finds its own way in the long-run.

    Put with a light heart: “Orthodox economics” there is defined as monetarism with a libertarian twist. Is Keynes not orthodox enough? We thought he was. When we were growing up, we never even heard of Hayek and Mises and still view them as fringe and not supported by the hard data. Keynes was the man. How did he become heterodox even though Friedman said, “We are all Keynesians now”?

    The article is quite an overview of the hot topics as of Tuesday though. Check it out.

  14. Asset prices: More bricks, fewer bubbles | The Economist

    A pretty good track record:

    THIS newspaper has a history of fretting about financial bubbles, and has frequently criticised central bankers for inflating them. In 1998 we urged Alan Greenspan, then chairman of America’s Federal Reserve, to raise interest rates to dampen a stockmarket bubble. In 2003, four years before the financial crisis, we became worried about a housing bubble, and again urged central bankers to tighten monetary policy.

    Given this record, you might expect The Economist to be urging tighter policy today. For all manner of asset prices have been soaring, and some are reaching territory that is hard to justify with economic fundamentals….

    … central bankers should tweak their unconventional tools to favour investment in new assets over the purchase of existing ones. …

    … most important, governments should boost public investment. From bridges to broadband, many rich countries need an upgrade. Britain’s public transport is overloaded. More than 40% of London’s water pipes are a century old. One in seven German bridges could be in dangerous disrepair. Yet austerity has led capital budgets to be slashed. Britain’s infrastructure plan, unveiled this week, is a start, but it does not involve enough new public investment.

    We called it in 2002-3 also.

  15. Cost Reduction Drives Workplace Change – Daily News Article –

    In five years, over half of respondents indicated that they expect global corporations will reach about 100 square feet per person.”

    Corporations are reaching these numbers through a variety of methods, including hoteling and work-from-home and mobility strategies, the survey showed. The increase in collaborative and common space seen in the new workplace designs will offset some of the reduction in space per person. “But as the corporate economy begins to recovery, we may see less than average demand for more real estate. That’s something we need to take into account when we see where demand will be in the next couple of years.”

  16. Blackstone Steps Up Asia Property Deals as Rivals Fade – Bloomberg

    Blackstone sure isn’t sitting on their hands.

    Blackstone Group LP (BX), which has put $1 billion of equity this year into Asian real estate, says it’s poised for more deals in the region as maturing funds sell assets and banks retreat amid new regulations.

  17. Calculated Risk: Lawler on Fed Note: “Business Investor Activity in the Single-Family-Housing Market”

    The metro areas with the largest share of investor [not individuals] buying in 2012 were Atlanta at 16.43%, Phoenix at 13.99% and Las Vegas at 10.97%.

  18. 5 Reasons the Luxury Real Estate Market Is Booming | The Fiscal Times

    1. The rich are getting richer. The uneven economic recovery has widened the income gap between the wealthiest Americans and poorest. Data published by economists Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty show that the top 1 percent of households by income has captured a staggering 95 percent of income gains between 2009 and 2012, while the bottom 90 percent have seen income fall by 16 percent.

  19. Single Family Housing Policy Drafts

    Single Family Housing’s Policy “Drafting Table”

    Making it easier to do business with FHA Single Family

    FHA is developing a new FHA Single Family Housing Policy Handbook (SF Handbook) and is inviting feedback!

    Posted on October 29, 2013, this draft is the first step in developing a single authoritative source for Single Family housing policy.

    Incorporating policy sources such as numerous prior handbooks, Mortgagee Letters, Housing Notices, and others, this new Handbook will be your one stop shop for Single Family housing policy.

    Application through Endorsement (Title II Forward) Sections

    Developed over a series of phases, this first phase, posted for feedback, covers the Application through Endorsement process for Title II forward mortgages. Over the coming months, we will be completing the remaining sections that will span the end-to-end process for doing business with FHA Single Family.

    Our goals for the new handbook are to:

    Be a single, reliable source of policy,

    Use clear, consistent, simple, more direct language,

    Align the flow of the SF Handbook to the mortgage process and

    Make it easier to understand and implement policy changes.

    This “Drafting” Table site will be our resource for posting drafts of upcoming Handbook sections going forward.


    This month’s CoStar Commercial Repeat Sale Indices (CCRSI) provide the market’s first look at October 2013 commercial real estate pricing. Based on 1,207 repeat sales in October 2013 and more than 125,000 repeat sales since 1996, the CCRSI offers the broadest measure of commercial real estate repeat sales activity.

    October 2013 CCRSI National Results Highlights

    CRE prices rebounded from an uneven third quarter to post solid gains in October: …

    Pricing has firmed at both the high and low ends of the market: …

    Liquidity indicators show marked improvement: …

    Distress sales volume falls to lowest level since 2008: …

  21. How many months it takes an average worker to earn what the CEO makes in an hour – Quartz

    Why workers have to rent if they can afford even that:

    It takes the average McDonald’s worker seven months to earn what its CEO makes in just a single hour.

    While executives at many top companies make top dollar, the typical employee at corporations like McDonald’s, Gap, Target, and Walmart still earns minimum wage, or something barely above it. The disparity is alarming. CEOs of American companies now earn some 270 times what the average worker makes.

    The CEO’s are eating the fast-food workers’ lunches.

  22. Asymmetrical Bubbles | PRAGMATIC CAPITALISM

    In the long term, it will ultimately be the fundamentals that drive the markets. Currently, the deterioration in the growth rate of earnings, and economic strength, are not supportive of the speculative rise in asset prices or leverage. The idea of whether, or not, the Federal Reserve, along with virtually every other central bank in the world, are inflating the next asset bubble is of significant importance to investors who can ill afford to, once again, lose a large chunk of their net worth.

  23. Mish’s Global Economic Trend Analysis: High-Powered Idiocy from Academic Wonderland; Three Reasons Banks Not Lending; Blinder is Blind

    Three Reasons Banks Not Lending

    Banks do not have credit-worthy customers.

    Credit-worthy customers do not want to borrow.

    Mike “Mish” Shedlock calls charging interest on excess reserves “Idiocy.” We are in favor of charging interest on excess reserves. Here are some reasons why Mike’s points are not enough to kill the deal.

    “Banks do not have credit-worthy customers.” Why not? Banks left the business of teaching borrowers how to be creditworthy. Rather, they delved into extremely risky speculation themselves. There is no good reason why all of that cannot or should not be reversed.

    “Credit-worthy customers do not want to borrow.” Why not? Who are potential borrowing customers? Are they only businesses? Are they only large corporations? Why are interest rates on credit cards so obscenely high, making it harder (too expensive) for average customers to borrow for all sorts of things? What are the lending rates on loans to small businesses, which businesses could be, and should be, watched over by lenders to help those businesses succeed? Why are mortgage rates having to go up, the Phillips Curve? That curve hasn’t been working as expected.

    The main point is this: Why couldn’t the banks make a smaller spread on a larger batch of loans? We think they could do that while still making as much in total and likely more. We think that would be better for the economy. The banks could return less to executives and more to the communities they serve, or should serve, for the privilege of earning interest on loans in the first place (and it is a privilege extended by the democratic process, even though that process is a bit convoluted and not always fair to the middle and lower classes).

    We covered before that there are ways to prevent the banks from passing higher costs (negative interest on reserves) to customers. For one, people move their money when another bank charges less or not at all.

  24. Wall Street Exhales as Volcker Rule Seen Sparing Market-Making – Bloomberg

    Changes in the final wording broadened exemptions for banks’ market-making desks, which generate more than $40 billion a year in revenue.

    The rulemaking ends three years of uncertainty at banks over which activities would be permitted by the measure named for former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker. The more-than 900 pages of regulations and preamble leave watchdogs room to interpret wording and decide whether firms are engaging in permitted hedging and market-making as opposed to proprietary trading.

    Market-making, or principal trading, is the business of using a firm’s capital to buy and sell securities with customers, while profiting on the spread and movement in prices. Proprietary trading involves banks placing speculative bets with their own capital. The Volcker rule seeks to stop banks with federally insured deposits from making such trades that could threaten their stability.

    Wall Street firms didn’t get everything they wanted. While lenders can still put aggregate hedges on their portfolios, the risks have to be identified and the hedges documented.

    That provision became central to the Volcker rule debate after JPMorgan lost $6.2 billion last year in bets on credit derivatives. The so-called London Whale trades, conducted in the U.K. by the bank’s chief investment office and nicknamed for their market impact, were described by JPMorgan executives as a portfolio hedge.

    It sounds to us that the definitions are too subjective.

  25. Calculated Risk: Update: Looking for Stronger Economic Growth in 2014

    Eliminating drags is important. The drag from state and local governments is over. The drag from household deleveraging (in the aggregate) is ending. The threats of a government shutdown, not “paying the bills”, and mindless austerity is over (assuming the budget deal is approved). And CRE investments are starting to appear.

    We think those are truly trends.

    There are still many international and domestic issues that could derail the progress though. We aren’t at all suggesting that Bill McBride is unaware of the many things that could go wrong.

    We do agree that there is good cause to be cautiously optimistic. People really do seem to have learned from the Great Recession. Let’s just not let the total-deregulators get a foothold again.

    Killing Glass-Steagall and not regulating derivatives, etc., was utter madness, unless you think being ultra-rich by eating everyone else is sane.

  26. Failure to Extend Emergency Unemployment Benefits Will Hurt Jobless Workers in Every State — Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

    A needed extension of federal emergency jobless benefits was absent from this week’s budget agreement, potentially leaving almost 5 million jobless workers in the lurch over the next 12 months, according to Department of Labor estimates.[1]

    Failure to extend the Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program would affect jobless workers in every state.

    In all, an estimated 4.9 million workers would lose out on EUC benefits by the end of 2014.

    Emergency federal UI programs like EUC are designed to phase down as the labor market improves and eventually expire. The phasing down is underway — the maximum number of weeks of EUC plus regular UI has fallen from 99 to 73, and that maximum is available in only a handful of states — but it is too soon to let the program expire.

    While the unemployment rate has fallen from its recession peak to 7.0 percent, this measure alone provides too optimistic a picture of the overall health of the labor market:[3]

  27. Canada, Belgium Top Ranks of Overvalued Housing Markets – Deutsche – MoneyBeat – WSJ

    Canada tops the list of overvalued housing markets, with an overvaluation of 60% from historical averages, followed by Belgium, New Zealand, Norway and Australia. At the bottom: the U.S., Greece, Germany, South Korea and, last of all, Japan, with an undervaluation of 39%.

    Although the Deutsche team doesn’t delve into them, it’s not hard to think of some key reasons for these differences. Canada, for example, is very open to foreign investors, which means that in an age of unprecedented global liquidity cash-rich wealthy individuals who are looking for places to park their excess funds can do so in its housing market far more easily than in Japan, with its closed system. For its part, Belgium’s home prices could be distorted by soaring prices in Brussels as the European Union’s economic and financial troubles have inevitably increased the business of the EU and prompted an influx of diplomats into a city that functions as Europe’s capital.

  28. ECB’s Draghi: Sovereign debt risk treatment a global matter | Reuters

    “This LTRO would have to geared and designed in a way to increase the probability that this money will reach the real economy,” Draghi said, adding this might take some time.

    “We (have) got to think further and reflect more deeply to find the right instrument,” he said.

    That’s exactly right. They need to be creative. We need that in the US too.

    We need strings attached to charging interest on excess reserves. The Fed can attach strings designed to spur banks to instruct, lend, and monitor, all to the benefit of every entity involved.

  29. HUD Unveils Definition of QM | Mortgage News | Daily National and State Headlines

    The two categories of Qualified Mortgages are:

    A Rebuttable Presumption Qualified Mortgage will have an APR greater than APOR + 115 basis points (bps) + on-going Mortgage Insurance Premium (MIP) rate. Legally, lenders that offer these loans are presumed to have determined that the borrower met the Ability-to-Repay standard. Consumers can challenge that presumption, however, by proving that they did not, in fact, have sufficient income to pay the mortgage and their other living expenses.

    Safe Harbor Qualified Mortgages will be loans with APRs equal to or less than APOR + 115 bps + on-going MIP. These mortgages offer lenders the greatest legal certainty that they are complying with the Ability-to-Repay standard. Consumers can still legally challenge their lender if they believe the loan does not meet the definitions of a Safe Harbor Qualified Mortgage.

  30. Dan Fuss Joins Bill Gross Shunning Long-Term Debt Before Taper – Bloomberg

    The aversion to long-term bonds highlights the challenge the Fed faces in tapering without pushing up borrowing costs as it prepares to scale back the debt-purchase program it used to help the economy through the last recession in 2008 and 2009. Treasury 10-year notes headed for their worst annual performance in four years before the government sells $21 billion of them today [December 11, 2013] in its last sale of the securities for 2013.

  31. A Huge Fed-Induced Credit Bubble By 2017?: Nouriel Roubini | Economy Watch

    Nouriel Roubini :

    Since injecting more than $2 trillion into the financial system through three rounds of quantitative easing, the U.S. Federal Reserve is gradually realising that their experiment to kick-start the economy with near-zero interest rates has failed.

    … recent data have effectively silenced hints by some Federal Reserve officials that the Fed should begin exiting from its current third (and indefinite) round of quantitative easing (QE3). Given slow growth, high unemployment (which has fallen only because discouraged workers are leaving the labor force), and inflation well below the Fed’s target, this is no time to start constraining liquidity.

    The problem is that the Fed’s liquidity injections are not creating credit for the real economy, but rather boosting leverage and risk-taking in financial markets. The issuance of risky junk bonds under loose covenants and with excessively low interest rates is increasing; the stock market is reaching new highs, despite the growth slowdown; and money is flowing to high-yielding emerging markets.

    We aren’t sure how to take the term “failed” there. It didn’t fail to keep the economy from tanking even further.

    Of course, as with some at the Fed, we wanted to see much more fiscal stimulus on truly productive infrastructure improvements with “infrastructure” being very broadly defined to get into many cracks in the system.

  32. Quantitative easing doesn’t cause inflation or deflation

    John Carney has done the best job we’ve seen in explaining this. The job is good because it’s simple.

    … when the Fed engages in quantitative easing it acquires securities held by investors in exchange for dollars. Investors will only accept those dollars, according to Williamson, if they believe the dollars will rise in value. Which is to say, the operation of QE seems to imply deflation.

    … you don’t need deflation to get people to accept cash for securities. You just need falling term premiums.

  33. Relaxed Chinese Capital Controls Carries Potential for Reward and Risk – Real Time Economics – WSJ

    Liberalizing China’s capital account would enable Chinese households and businesses to seek higher returns for their savings in overseas assets. This would not only provide a huge new source of finance for the world’s borrowers, but would free up more of Chinese households’ income for domestic spending. Liberalization would also permit Western firms and households to invest in China.

    “In principle, capital account liberalisation in China could be a powerful force that enables the Chinese and global economies to become both richer and more stable,” the paper says.

    But Mr. Hooley adds there are risks too. Countries in eastern Europe and elsewhere in Asia know only too well that foreign capital can be flighty at the first sign of trouble and lending in different currencies can cause severe headaches when exchange rates move against you. The rest of the world might also end up more exposed to China’s huge financial system, deepening the complex web of connections that helped transmit financial mayhem across the globe when Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. collapsed in 2008.

  34. Watt Confirmed as FHFA Director

    … the U.S. Senate voted Tuesday to confirm Rep. Mel Watt (D-North Carolina) as director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA).

    With Watt’s confirmation, analysts at Barclays anticipate another discussion on the topic of principal forgiveness—a move DeMarco has famously opposed, earning praise and criticism alike—and another possible extension of the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP).

    While Barclays noted Watt’s support for the administration’s housing policies may represent a “policy risk,” analysts for FBR Capital Markets say a more supportive approach to borrowing could be a boon for credit availability.

  35. Researchers Make Predictions for China’s Economy in 2014 – China Real Time Report – WSJ

    Property investment faces downward pressure, hit by an oversupply of houses in smaller cities, Mr. Zhang wrote, adding that local governments will likely find it increasingly difficult to fund more infrastructure projects.

    The researchers note that a property market bubble poses big risks to the economy, especially amid slower growth. Beijing’s efforts to keep burgeoning local government debt in check could also dampen investment, which would hit foreign trade.

    As for the banking sector, researchers from China’s central bank highlight risks in the nation’s murky interbank market. Wang Yi, Shi Chunhua and Ye Huan write in the book that financial institutions have circumvented regulations about banks’ loan-to-deposit ratio by borrowing from the interbank market, which has compromised regulators’ control over credit.

    CASS researchers Li Zhou and Dang Guoying call on the State Council to issue title documents to farmers to ensure they have permanent rights to their land, an issue that [was] brought up in the reform document.

  36. In San Francisco Supply and Demand Dynamics Favor Condo Developers | The Registry

    High housing demand fueled by extraordinary job creation and low interest rates, combined with lagging construction and a precarious entitlement process, have put San Francisco condominium developers on a lucrative path.

    “We see demand increasing rapidly because of all the economic growth in the Bay Area,” said Paul Zeger, president of San Francisco-based Polaris Pacific, a residential sales, marketing and research firm focused on the West Coast. “But we’re undersupplying the market, which means that over the long term in San Francisco, and in the Bay Area in general, you’re going to see housing values go up.”

  37. Trulia’s Housing Predictions: How 2014 Will be Different – Forbes

    Trulia Chief Economist Jed Kolko:

    Rental Action Swings Back Toward Urban Apartments. Throughout the recession and recovery, investors bought homes and rented them out, sometimes to people who lost another (or the same!) home to foreclosure. In fact, the number of rented single-family homes leapt by 32% during this period. Going into 2014, though, investors are buying fewer single-family homes; loosening credit standards might allow more single-family renters to become owners again; and fewer owners are losing homes to foreclosures to begin with — all of which mean that the single-family rental market should cool. At the same time, multifamily accounts for an unusually high share of new construction, which means more urban apartment rentals should come onto the market in 2014. Urban apartments will be the first stop for many of the young adults who find jobs and move out of their parents’ homes. In short, 2014 should mean more supply and demand for urban apartment rentals, but slowing supply and demand for single-family rentals. Ironically, economic recovery means that the overall homeownership rate will probably decline, as some young adults form their own households as renters. Still, the shift in rental activity from suburban single-family to urban apartments would be yet another sign of housing recovery.

  38. Compare Condo Assessments, Condo & HOA Smart Condo & HOA Smart

    Have you tried to compare condo assessments of a particular condo association with another one?

    Due to various factors, it’s impossible to make an accurate comparison

    There are many reasons why it’s difficult to compare condominiums: …

    Plus, what are condo owners required to insure?