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↑ The Bakerson Boys: Are Part Time Investors Buying Single-Family Rentals?
With over 14 Million homes in the single family rental market, who owns most of them? It is interesting that large-scale investors still only control a small fraction of them. The majority is still owned by small players, individuals, and ad-hoc groups of small investors.
↑ Demand Drivers [Freddie Mac] – YouTube
Freddie Mac’s Deputy Chief Economist, Len Kiefer, gives a video preview of the April 2014 U.S. Economic and Housing Market.
↑ Group urges Alabama to create dam safety program | The Montgomery Advertiser | montgomeryadvertiser.com
A group is urging Alabama to create an inspection program for the hundreds of dams across the state, most of which they say go unregulated.
Mark Ogden of the Association of State Dam Safety Officials said Tuesday that Alabama is the only state without a dam safety program.
↑ ORLANDO, Fla.: Storm surge risks get their own graphics, warnings – Hurricanes – MiamiHerald.com
ORLANDO, Fla. — Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center hope new color-coded maps they’re trying out this year will simplify two important points about storm surge for coastal residents: how far from the beach the water will spread and how high that water will rise.
↑ San Francisco considers ending rental ban – SFGate
San Francisco lawmakers are considering making it legal for city residents to rent out their homes on sites such as Airbnb, but only if they have liability insurance and meet other requirements ….
↑ Fire chief urges changes ahead of West anniversary – Houston Chronicle
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The state fire marshal recommended Monday that 46 facilities storing ammonium nitrate in Texas be required to make structural improvements to prevent another deadly blast like the one that killed 15 people nearly a year ago in West.
“There has to be some changes post-West,” state fire marshal Chris Connealy told a Texas House committee.
↑ South Carolina Looks to Increase Home Mitigation Funding
South Carolina lawmakers are moving forward with a plan to increase grants to homeowners who strengthen their homes against storm damage.
The South Carolina Senate Finance Committee approved the “Competitive Insurance Act,” which will provide $1.6 million additional funding for the Safe Home South Carolina program by allowing the state’s Department of Insurance to retain more premium taxes levied against insurers.
↑ Michigan man imprisoned for 5 years over wrongful arson verdict sues | Detroit Free Press | freep.com
A man who spent five years in prison for a wrongful arson conviction has sued a northern Michigan county, three sheriff’s deputies and a state trooper.
The University of Michigan law school’s Innocence Clinic found arson experts who concluded an improperly installed wood stove caused the fire.
↑ Boston Attacks Mark Major Shift in Who’s Buying Terror Insurance – Bloomberg
Terrorism insurance, designed for large businesses and corporations, suddenly seemed wise for more midsized and smaller firms. Broken windows and a 10-day closure at restaurants and mom-and-pop businesses spurred owners of similar operations across the U.S. to think, “hey, this could happen to me,” ….
↑ FGIC, BofA settle litigation over mortgage-backed securities | Reuters
Bond insurer Financial Guarantee Insurance Co said it had reached an agreement with Bank of America Corp to settle litigation related to nine second-lien residential mortgage-backed securitizations FGIC had insured.
↑ Spray-painted fire hydrants costing San Francisco – SFGate
Spray-painted fire hydrants in San Francisco are creating a public safety threat and costing the city tens of thousands of dollars ….
Thirty-five to 40 hydrants have been spray-painted in recent months, Bill Gunn, with the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, told the San Francisco Chronicle in a story published over the weekend. Though some may consider the work public art, Gunn said the city has to repair the hydrants because they are stamped and painted with tags that tell firefighters their water pressure, distance from a shutoff valve and the water main they are connected to.
↑ Historic church collapses in north St. Louis : Stltoday
A St. Louis church with a long history is in ruins after a sudden collapse, and the school next door is closed for safety reasons.
… Bethlehem Lutheran Church stood for nearly 120 years in north St. Louis before a wall collapsed on Friday.
↑ Sandy stormproofing ideas coming from residents – SFGate
All along the shore, towns are soliciting ideas from those who lived through the storm. Toms River held a series of meetings for residents of Sandy-pummeled areas to offer ideas. Sea Bright, which lost virtually its entire business district and saw hundreds of homes flooded, asked residents to suggest rebuilding projects and vote on which ones to pursue first. Belmar and Lake Como residents suggested ways to alleviate chronic flooding at a lake near the ocean. And a Rutgers University professor is conducting an online survey of what residents in Highlands, Sea Bright and Sayreville want their rebuilt communities to look like.
↑ President declares Montana disaster after flooding
The president has signed a disaster declaration for Montana over damage caused by widespread flooding and ice jams early last month.
↑ Flood threat persists on swollen Michigan rivers
“We’ve been here 20 years. Some of our neighbors have been out here 40 years, and we’ve never seen this kind of thing happen. Never,” Tom Gardner told the Traverse City Record-Eagle. His house was partly surrounded by water.
As of 6 a.m. Tuesday, 3.1 inches of snow had fallen at Detroit Metropolitan Airport in Romulus, pushing the seasonal total to 94.8 inches and making it the snowiest season on record, the weather service said. That exceeded the previous Detroit record of 93.6 inches from the 1880-1881 season.
↑ The Durango Herald 04/13/2014 | Nation & World Briefs
An unstable hillside has continued to move since it forced dozens from their homes last week in the Wyoming resort town of Jackson over the slim but persistent risk of a sudden landslide, but the shifting was not accelerating, authorities said Sunday.
“Basically, the movement is remaining fairly constant,” incident spokeswoman Charlotte Reynolds said. “So, we’re having to monitor our excitement, but it is still moving so it is obviously still a concern.”
Geologists and others are watching the hill’s movement with the help of ground-monitoring equipment. A geologist has put the risk of sudden collapse at just 5 percent. So far, only one unoccupied home, which is directly atop the slide zone, has sustained damage.
About 60 people haven’t stayed at their homes since Wednesday. Officials say the move was a precaution in the wake of Washington state’s deadly landslide and was also tied to damage of the only access road.
↑ Fire destroys Prairie du Chien furniture store
Firefighters from at least seven departments responded to a blaze that’s destroyed a furniture store in Prairie du Chien [Wisconsin].
↑ Health woes vex neighbors of tire warehouse fire – Connecticut – Boston.com
A tire fire in Torrington that stopped burning more than a week ago has led to health concerns among local residents.
↑ Part of $150 Million San Diego Construction Project Stopped after
Work on the drywall portion of the $150 million, 45-story Pinnacle Towers construction project in downtown San Diego has stopped after the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) determined the sub-contractor hired for the work, Clayton Wall & Ceiling Systems Inc. (Clayton), is not properly licensed in the state of California.
↑ To the manor reborn — Ringwood estate is ready to welcome guests again – Environment – NorthJersey.com
Ringwood Manor, a two-century-old estate whose ironworks and owners played key roles in America’s growth from the Revolutionary War through the Gilded Age, will reopen to the public today after a two-year restoration.
Some of the rooms ended up looking better than they had before the furnace incident, since decades of grime from coal-powered heating was removed from the old wallpaper, exposing the original vibrant colors.
The restoration also uncovered some new historic details about the manor, Shulte said. One painting had been encased in a mantelpiece, and when it was removed for cleaning, restorers found on the back a letter dated from 1780 and written in French by the artist — Jacques Henri Sablet. The painting’s creator had not been known until then.
↑ Water pressure may have caused crack in dam | www.kirotv.com
Pressure from the water behind Wanapum Dam may have contributed to the big crack that has disrupted operations at the structure, the Grant County Public Utility District said Wednesday.
The 65-foot-long crack was detected by divers on Feb. 27, three days after a worker at the dam noticed that the top of a spillway pier had shifted slightly. When the reservoir behind the dam was drawn down by 26 feet, the pressure on the spillway was reduced and the fracture closed.
Wanapum Dam is the Grant County PUD’s largest power producer, capable of generating 1,092 megawatts of electricity, enough to supply nearly 900,000 homes.
The giant dam, which is 8,600-feet across, continues to generate electricity at 50 to 60 percent of its capacity, the utility said.
The crack runs the entire 65-foot width of the concrete base of the dam’s No. 4 spillway pier, but it is not clear how deep it runs. …
Despite public fears when the crack was revealed, Berrie said there was never a chance that the entire dam would fail.
↑ Clayton man pleads guilty to fraud charges : News : ConnectTriStates.com
ADAMS COUNTY, ILL. — A Clayton man pleaded guilty to a criminal charge after he tried to convince a man to burn down his restaurant.
↑ Americans Sold on Real Estate as Best Long-Term Investment
This year, the housing market has been improving across the U.S., and home prices have recently been rising after a steep drop in 2007 during the subprime mortgage crisis. This current improvement in prices may be why more Americans now consider real estate the best option for long-term investments. In 2002, during the real estate boom that preceded the mortgage crisis and before gold was offered as an option in the question, half of Americans said real estate was the best investment choice.
↑ Overseas real estate firms look for Chinese buyers – People’s Daily Online
Many Chinese investors are beginning to turn their attention to overseas real estate markets during the domestic real estate investment downturn. Experts warn that buying properties in foreign countries is risky – investors should do careful due diligence and invest prudently.
According to analysis conducted by the organizing committee of the Beijing International Property Expo, 15 percent of potential buyers said they would consider buying overseas properties.
According to Zhang Dawei, director of Beijing Zhongyuan Real Estate, there is no scope for investment in any domestic real estate markets that are of interest, due to purchase and credit restrictions, while environmental pollution has caused a decline in quality of life, and the relatively better environment and natural resources available abroad have attracted many Chinese investors.
Zhang Dawei observes that risks arise from ttwo sources. The first is the high cost of owning a foreign property. Overseas properties may be cheaper to purchase but more expensive when occupied. In addition to a variety of taxes and insurance costs, the actual profit on an investment may be limited. The second is that overseas property buyers often choose to rent to others rather than occupy their property. But in many countries tenants enjoy much greater protection than in China. Most domestic investors know little about this phenomenon, and may experience legal and administrative problems. In addition, compared with the appreciation rate of domestic real estate, property prices abroad may not offer anything like the same level of gains.
↑ ‘Gulf residents are still struggling’ 4 years after BP oil spill, groups say | gulflive.com
“We are standing here today to remind the nation that Gulf residents are still struggling with the environmental and economic consequences of the BP disaster,” said Roberta Avila, Executive Director of the Steps Coalition. “BP needs to clean up the oil and pay for the damage. And, we need to make sure that a disaster like this never happens again.”
Despite BP declaring an end to active recovery and clean up this week, oil continues to wash up on the Gulf’s shore. On an April 9 monitoring trip to Barataria Bay and Grand Isle, La., Gulf Restoration Network documented fresh tar balls on the beaches and a dead dolphin in the surf.
One recent study linked BP’s oil to problems with heart health in bluefin tuna and amberjack. Similar results have been found after other oil spills, including the Exxon-Valdez disaster, according to the group’s news release.
↑ Mortgage Rates Falling In 2014, But Closing Costs Rise 6%
Since the start of the year, U.S. mortgage rates have moved lower in all 50 states.
From California to Florida, the average 30-year fixed rate mortgage rate is down more than one-quarter percentage point. However, loans are [meant aren’t] necessarily “cheaper”. As mortgage rates today drop, loan closing costs are on the rise.
According to Bankrate.com, closing costs climbed in 2013 for the second straight year, and are likely to rise in 2014, too.
As compared to the year prior, closing costs climbed 6% in 2013; which follows a whopping 37% average increase in 2012.
↑ Sriracha Sauce Maker Huy Fong Foods Considers Moving Factory Away From Irwindale After Public Nuisance Ruling : Laws&Immigration : Latin Post
After months of legal battles between the city of Irwindale, Calif. and Huy Fong Foods regarding the company’s Sriracha plant emitting irritating odors, the hot sauce’s creator, David Tran, is considering moving locations, despite air quality officials’ proposal of implementing smell-mitigation technology.
The Los Angeles Times reported that Tran began exploring alternative locations last week after the Irwindale City Council unanimously designated the Sriracha factory a public nuisance.
↑ Los Angeles Remains the Un-sexiest of the Sexy Six – Apartment Market Dynamics – YouTube
Among the so-called “Sexy Six” core apartment markets, we’ve seen a range of performances in recent years. All but one of them, though, have had extended periods of outperformance sometime between 2010 and early 2014. The exception? Los Angeles, which has yet to show consistently strong momentum since coming out of the recession. Is Los Angeles facing a “new normal” below the typical revenue growth levels of the mid-2000s?
↑ California home sales hit six-year low – OC Housing News
This is right on in our view.
Most housing analysts expected sales to increase in 2014. They believed an increase in sales and an increase in price would represent “escape velocity,” a virtuous circle where rising prices increases demand and causes more sales and rising prices; in the past, this would have worked because lenders would extend toxic financing terms to new buyers to keep the party going, but the new mortgage regulations changed how real estate markets work. With those products now banned, the party ends when prices get too high — as it should.
In Bold California housing market predictions for 2014, I said sales volumes would decline because investors would pull back and owner-occupants would not step up to take their place, particularly with prices and mortgage interest rates so much higher. Starting the new year, most people preferred to sustain their delusional optimism, so housing pundits and financial reporters clung to their notions of a robust housing recovery. As reality set in over the last several months, first they blamed the weather for declining sales, then they erroneously blamed the lack of inventory (this implies pent-up demand that isn’t there, so it’s more palatable). The reality is that prices are too high relative to income and buying power; affordability limits both sales volumes and price growth.