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28) Real Estate in Asia Remains Resilient in an Environment of Weaker Economic Fundamentals, Says ‘Emerging Trends In Real Estate® Asia Pacific 2015’ Report; Japan Holds Status as a Magnet for Investment – Urban Land Institute
⇧ 23 Totally Awesome Life Hacks for Landlords (To Save You Time, Stress, and Money!)
These 23 life hacks for landlords will help you get more done in less time – and for less money! Which is your favorite?
Everyone loves a good “life hack,” right?
Well, let’s first get on the same page about what a life hack is, for those born before 1985. A life hack is simply a tip, technique, or strategy designed to simplify or manage your time and resources more effectively.
Life hacks can be found all across the internet, offering tips on everything from house organization, food preparation, travel, and more. (For example — when you go to the beach, store your money and keys inside an empty sunscreen bottle that has been cut in half. No one steals sunscreen!)
So… I started thinking, why don’t we compile a list of “life hacks” just for real estate investors? After all, life can get especially busy for real estate investors who are trying to juggle their investments, their family, and often their full time job.
Therefore, I reached out to the BiggerPockets community in the Forums and asked everyone “What is Your Favorite Landlord Hack?” and the response was overwhelming! Below are a few of those tips (I couldn’t fit them all!) designed to make your life just a little better!
⇧ United States polarising – inequality and injustice escalating – Al Jazeera English
We have a problem. Make that problems. An amazing article by Walda Katz-Fishman and Jerome Scott:
In a world where the 85 richest people owned $110 trillion in wealth, equal to that of the poorest 3.5 billion people combined in 2013, the United States is the most unequal.
These things are all readily fixable. All that’s lacking is the sufficient will of the common people to take control away from those who are oppressing them due to hyper-greed.
One method is via Article 5 of the US Constitution. Unfortunately, there are insufficient state legislators with the proper education and mindset to stand for the common people against the plutocrats.
This should be a litmus test for your votes on every level: federal, state, and local, etc.
Refuse to support anyone who stands against those below the upper class.
This is not to say that there aren’t good-hearted people among those who are well off financially. It is also not to say that we advocate violence.
There are ways of fixing things short of violence and vengeance.
We need to take care of matters before others turn to the violent overthrow of the establishment.
⇧ CRE Bank Lending Reaches $1.4T in Q3 – Daily News Article – GlobeSt.com
…multifamily and commercial real estate loans held on bank balance sheets increased to $1.42 trillion during Q3 2014, up $15.5 billion from the prior quarter and up by $77.4 billion from a year earlier.
Bank lending against multifamily and commercial real estate has been rising for ten consecutive quarters and has now reached an all-time high with this latest quarter. It is 9% above the pre-financial crisis peak of $1.31 trillion.
Construction finance’s recovery is one sobering note from the report: it has been rising for six consecutive quarters, but it is still down more than 60% from its pre-financial crisis peak.
⇧ How Technology Could Help Fight Income Inequality – NYTimes.com
Even if income inequality continues to increase in the short run, as I believe is likely, there exists a plausible and more distant future in which we are mostly much better off and more equal. The history of technology suggests that new opportunities for better living and higher wages are being created, just not as quickly as we might like.
We think things will change at an ever accelerating pace rendering work for compensation obsolete much sooner than anyone appears to appreciate.
We need to be planning now for the fully sharing economy, and we don’t mean renting from each other but rather where everything is provided free of charge (as a right of birth).
⇧ Real Estate in the Napa Valley: New laws on the horizon
Burt M. Polson:
Real estate is not exempt from the onslaught of new laws. Several new laws include additional disclosure requirements in a transaction, exemptions to property taxes potentially giving us savings each year and a few new laws affecting real estate brokers. I have highlighted below four new laws affecting commercial property owners.
⇧ Strong dollar comes to a head – YouTube
John Authers reports from New York when the dollar reached its highest level since 2006 – and a strong jobs report led the bond market to bet on higher interest rates early in the new year. What effect will this have on the rest of the world – and will it choke off the rally in US stocks?
The stronger US dollar is disinflationary or even deflationary if the trend continues. If China doesn’t do as well as many are predicting and if the hit on the fracking industry due to lower oil and gas prices is not more than made up for by those lower prices in terms of increased consumer discretionary spending, then the markets could be getting this whole thing wrong. The Fed could hold off, and interest rates could fall more and we might even have to see another round of QE but in a different form. What we’ll really need is fiscal spending on infrastructure, but the Republican legislature will not oblige.
⇧ Venture Capital: Rouble Trouble (E67) – YouTube
Katie Pilbeam wants to know if the Russian rouble has finally reached bottom as the currency hits a record low on falling oil prices. Also, the Russian government offers a tax amnesty in a bid to stem capital outflow and encourage its citizens to bring money back from offshore.
⇧ Employment Upswing Not Here to Stay – YouTube
Economist Richard Wolff explains how the holiday season places folks in temporary, low-paid jobs that keep the economy in a fragile state.
Embedding disabled by request.
⇧ More on the Continuing Weakness of the Labor Market | Beat the Press
Dean Baker shows that the employment situation is far from back.
…the employment to population ratio (EPOP), which gives the percentage of the adult population which is employed. This stood at 59.2 percent in November (unchanged from October). This is 1.0 percentage points above the low of 58.2 percent last hit in the summer of 2011, but it is still more than four full percentage points below the pre-recession peaks and more than five full percentage points below the all-time highs hit in 2000.
Many people have dismissed these comparisons by pointing to demographic changes, specifically the aging of the baby boomers. With much of the baby boom cohort now in their sixties, we would expect to see more people retiring, but if we look at prime age workers (ages 25-54) we get a similar story. The OECD reports that the EPOP for this group was 76.8 percent in the third quarter of this year, compared to 79.9 percent in 2007 and 81.5 percent in 2000.
In addition, we shouldn’t discount the fact that many Boomers were really hit hard by the crash and need to work longer to help make up for it (if that’s even possible).
⇧ mainly macro: The imaginary world of small state people
Simon Wren-Lewis at his hottest:
My first major problem with small state people is that they are not prepared to look at these items on their merits. Instead they have a blanket ideological distaste for all things to do with government. The evidence that government is ‘always the problem’ is just not there. The idea that private sector activity is always welfare enhancing and is best left alone was blown out of the water by the financial crisis. My second major difficulty with many small state people, like George Osborne, is that they are using fear of a debt crisis (a possibility which for the UK and US is non-existent) to achieve their ends. This is political deceit on a grand scale. My third major problem follows from the second: reducing government spending during a liquidity trap recession does real harm. It wastes resources on a huge scale.
…The argument that the cuts made so far to welfare have been achieved without significant costs flies in the face of the evidence. The number of food banks in the UK has grown massively over the last five years. The Trussell Trust estimate that more than half of their clients were receiving food because of benefit delays, sanctions, and financial difficulties relating to the bedroom tax and abolition of council tax relief. As James Harrison relates in this excellent long article, the government simply denies the evidence. The Economist notes: “Welfare reform was intended to be one of the big achievements of the coalition government. But almost all of the radical ideas promised are turning out to be duds.” These are duds that create real misery. Now maybe this is all just teething problems, but the prima facie evidence is hardly that cuts have been achieved at little cost.
So how can small state people have the audacity to claim otherwise? Perhaps it reflects the power of an ideology that its protagonists want to see no evil. Perhaps it is because those hurt by austerity somehow do not count. But the claim that Osborne’s cuts have been such a success that they will cause a “deeper intellectual wound to the left than we currently understand” is simply delusional. These are fantasy ideas from those living in an imaginary world, while in reality the policies they support do serious harm.
⇧ On the House: Manual offers tips on transforming vacant properties
“Blight to Bright: A Comprehensive Toolkit for Pennsylvania” is a manual, recently released by the Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania, that offers communities and neighborhoods a way of turning vacant properties to productive use.
It is a lengthy treatise, considering the problem it is tackling, but the statistics are worthy of presenting here. You can read it at https://goo.gl/RgzstZ.
The “Blight to Bright” manual also cites studies by Penn showing that eliminating blight through greening or redevelopment increases surrounding property values by up to 30 percent in certain neighborhoods, reduces gun-related violence, and improves the health and exercise habits of residents while easing stress.
⇧ 6 Falls-owned properties among 17 slated for demolition – City & Region – The Buffalo News
NIAGARA FALLS — Six properties the city obtained through foreclosures and several owned by out-of-town landlords are among the 17 buildings in the latest round publicly funded demolitions.
When these dilapidated structures come down, the city will have taken down 114 blighted buildings since late 2012.
⇧ 300th new condo tower of this real estate cycle proposed for South Florida | The Miami Herald
Developers have not been this bullish about the prospects of the South Florida condo market for at least a decade.
In a testament to that widespread developer optimism, the 300th new condo tower of this current South Florida real estate cycle has just been announced east of Interstate 95 in the tricounty region of Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach, according to the preconstruction condo project website CraneSpotters.com.
⇧ China faces more pressure as Nov imports shrink unexpectedly, exports slow | Reuters
(Reuters) – China’s imports shrank unexpectedly in November while export growth slowed, fuelling concerns the world’s second-largest economy could be facing a sharper slowdown and adding pressure on policymakers to ramp up stimulus measures.
Exports rose 4.7 percent from a year earlier, while imports dropped 6.7 percent, the biggest drop since March, data released by the General Administration of Customs showed on Monday.
⇧ Labor Secretary: Job Growth Is Good, But Wages Need Help | WSIU
PEREZ: Well, we’ve seen broad-based growth for a while. This is now the 10th month in a row – over 200,000 jobs. So the economy has been moving in the right direction for some time. And what’s nice about this report, for me, is it’s broad-based growth. This is not a holiday hiring blip. This is growth across many sectors. Construction’s doing well. Manufacturing’s doing well. The sector that’s doing the best right now and has been for the last year or so is business and professional services. We saw wage growth last month that was significant. And so we’re seeing things moving in the right direction, and we’re on pace for the best year of job growth since the late ’90s.
BLOCK: Now, you mentioned, Secretary Perez, significant wage growth. And let’s talk about that because there has been a pretty long-standing problem of wage stagnation. So here’s the relevant number for December – a 9-cent-per-hour increase in the average hourly wage. You call that significant. How do you read it?
PEREZ: Well, average hourly earnings went up about 0.4 percent, which was twice what the economists had predicted. And what we see in wage growth is that when labor markets get tighter then employers have to pay more. And so we’re moving in the right direction, but it’s undeniable that we’re not moving fast enough.
⇧ The Upside of Lower Oil Prices – Stat | BlackRock
…for countries that import a significant amount of their oil, including many countries in Asia, lower oil prices are a boon. One big beneficiary of lower oil prices is India, which imports roughly 85% of its oil.
⇧ Oil and Gas Bloodbath Spreads to Junk Bonds, Leveraged Loans. Defaults Next | Wolf Street
Companies in the sector are now facing a harsh reality: crashing revenues and earnings. Some of them are going to have liquidity problems. Unless a miracle happens that will goose the price of oil pronto, there will be defaults, and they will reverberate beyond the oil patch.
⇧ UPDATE 1-Lower oil prices start to pinch Oklahoma state revenues | Reuters
Oklahoma’s energy-related revenues are feeling the squeeze from lower oil prices and if the price remains low, it could hit income and sales tax revenues if energy workers have less money to spend, the state’s treasurer said on Friday.
Lower oil prices are expected to boost some states’ sales revenues, as they give people more discretionary spending power. That is tempered by the impact lower prices have on energy-focused states.
⇧ India Set to Outpace China in 2016, Says Goldman – China Real Time Report – WSJ
It may be India’s time to shine as one growth projection suggests it could at last step out of China’s shadow.
Goldman Sachs is predicting that after more than 15 years stuck in China’s slipstream, India could surpass China in the next two years in terms of real gross domestic product expansion.
⇧ Typhoon Hagupit Hits the Philippines ALERT™ :: Event Summary
Typhoon Hagupit hit Eastern Samar late Saturday local time, flattening homes, toppling trees, and cutting power and communications. Wind gusts of up to 210 km/h were reported by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA). The storm was accompanied by significant precipitation. Borongan, the provincial capital of Eastern Samar, which is approximately 70 km south of the storm’s landfall location, recorded more than 400 mm of rainfall on Saturday.
⇧ Renting Now Half as Affordable as Buying in the US — Zillow Blog – Real Estate Market Stats, Celebrity Real Estate, and Zillow News
As rent soars across the US, Zillow found that renting a home is half as affordable as buying one. In the third quarter of 2014, U.S. renters could expect to spend about 30 percent of their incomes on rent, while those buying homes could expect to spend just 15 percent of their monthly incomes on their mortgage payment.
Bring more rentals online.
⇧ LA Times – Latest News
The huge L.A. fire that engulfed an apartment tower over an area the size of a city block is being treated as a criminal fire.
⇧ LePage urges fire safety after several fatal fires
Maine officials are working to install smoke detectors in homes for free.
It’s cheaper than fighting fires trying to save lives that might be saved better by the warnings put out by the detectors..
⇧ Sad day for Rienzi: Fire destroys historic block – The Dispatch
More than 100 years of Rienzi history and an entire downtown block went up in flames Wednesday morning in the edge of southern Alcorn County.
The small town’s oldest business, Smith Drug Store, along with one other business, one vacant building and one apartment were all destroyed by the early morning blaze. The fire started inside the drug store shortly after 1 a.m., when owner Trevor Williams rolled out of bed to a phone call from his security company.
⇧ Minnetonka Burglaries – KDUZ
Minnetonka police are warning homeowners that eight burglaries have occurred in the Minneapolis suburb in less than a month.
⇧ Fire rages through LA: Over 250 firefighters battle terrifying blaze – YouTube
A large fire in downtown Los Angeles caused the closure of parts of two major freeways early on Monday 8 December.
⇧ ABC Predicts Continued Construction Industry Growth in 2015 | PressReleasePoint
Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) forecasts a steady and ongoing economic recovery for the U.S. commercial and industrial construction industries in 2015. The reasonably brisk industry recovery in 2014 should continue in 2015, with momentum especially growing in segments closely related to the current American energy and industrial production resurgence.
Well, the energy-sector construction will be finishing what’s already in the pipeline, unless projects are canceled due to falling oil-prices cutting too far into previous profit margins. Lower oil-prices won’t exactly help with alternative-energy projects either, though people would be wise to take their gas savings and invest in alternative-energy production.
⇧ Real Estate in Asia Remains Resilient in an Environment of Weaker Economic Fundamentals, Says ‘Emerging Trends In Real Estate® Asia Pacific 2015’ Report; Japan Holds Status as a Magnet for Investment – Urban Land Institute
Tokyo (ranked first for investment and development) — Tokyo’s popularity is attributed to the government’s massive economic stimulus plan that has catalyzed property purchases in anticipation of rapidly rising prices. While ongoing credit easing is allowing “plenty of room for markets to run,” the report points out that Tokyo’s attraction “lies not only in its prospects for asset price inflation but also in its status as a gateway city featuring…low levels of perceived risk.”
Currently, strong asset prices are in marked contrast with weak rentals. Occupational markets are weak in many markets, especially in Australia and Japan. Many investors project that the contrast between prices and rentals will shift, with returns based more on stronger rental fundamentals than soaring prices.
⇧ Using Discounted Cash Flow to Justify Energy Saving Projects | Sustainable Cities Collective
It’s not as hard as it looks. David Thorpe:
Suppose you are a visionary in an organisation, be it a project manager or a policy head, and you have an idea for a project — it could be a low energy building, an eco-retrofit, or a piece of energy-saving equipment — that you know will save the organisation money over its lifetime but which has a relatively high capital cost.
Your challenge is to persuade those who hold the purse strings or other people in your organisation of the value of the project.
Here is one surefire way to go about it that is guaranteed to turn their heads, if not to win them over to your project.
It involves calculating the total costs and benefits over the life of the building, or over a reasonable investment period, using Discounted Cash Flow [Analysis] (DCF).
⇧ Tax avoidance ‘on industrial scale’ | Daily Mail Online
One of the UK’s biggest accountancy firms has been accused by a senior MP of selling tax avoidance for clients on an “industrial scale” through deals set up in Luxembourg.
The chairman of the Commons Public Accounts Committee Margaret Hodge accused Kevin Nicholson, the UK head of tax at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), of having “lied” when he previously said the firm did not “mass market” tax avoidance schemes.
During a bad-tempered committee hearing in the Palace of Westminster, she suggested that one of PwC’s clients – Shire Pharmaceuticals – had engaged in “fraud” through its use of a Luxembourg subsidiary to shield its profits from tax.
More power to her.
⇧ A Year of Divergence by Mohamed A. El-Erian – Project Syndicate
Mohamed A. El-Erian:
For the US, the combination of a stronger economy and less accommodative monetary policy will put additional upward pressure on the dollar’s exchange rate — which has already appreciated significantly — against both the euro and the yen. With few other countries willing to allow their currencies to strengthen, the dollar’s tendency toward appreciation will remain strong and broad-based, potentially triggering domestic political opposition.
Fortunately, there are ways to ensure that 2015’s divergences do not lead to economic and financial disruptions. Indeed, most governments — particularly in Europe, Japan, and the US — have the tools they need to defuse the rising tensions and, in the process, unleash their economies’ productive potential.
Oh, they have the tools; however, do they know how to use them, and will they if they do?
⇧ Wall Street to Workers: Give Us Your Retirement Savings and Stop Asking Questions – Working In These Times
…with many high-fee Wall Street firms failing to deliver returns that beat low-fee stock index funds, investors like Warren Buffett are saying public pension systems shouldn’t be plowing retirement savings into hedge funds, private equity and other so-called “alternative investments.” That is an especially powerful argument when such investments keep allowing the financial industry to charge ever-higher fees in near-total secrecy.
⇧ Slowdown in global house prices continues | Global Briefing
With price growth in Dubai and much of Asia slowing, the Knight Frank Global House Price Index has lost its main engines of growth resulting in a rise of just 0.1% in the third quarter of 2014.
For the first time in two years the Global House Price Index came close to falling into negative territory. Muted growth in the third quarter comes on the back of jitters over the global economy, a lingering malaise in Europe and, in the US, a slower-than-expected housing recovery.
⇧ Calculated Risk: Decline in the Labor Force Participation Rate: Mostly Demographics and Long Term Trends
For several years, I’ve been arguing that “most of the recent decline in the participation rate” was due to demographics and other long term structural trends (like more education). Clearly this was an important issue because if most of the decline had been due to cyclical weakness, then we’d expect a significant increase in participation as the economy improved. If the decline was due to demographics and other long term trends, then the participation rate might keep falling (or flatten out for a period before declining again) as the economy improves.
Most of the recent research supports my view.
Okay, as much as we appreciate Bill McBride’s high intelligence and yeoman’s work bringing all of us stats that matter and helping to analyze them, we must point out at least 4 things were we take exception to his post.
First, the longer the “Great Recession” drags on, then of course, the fewer aging people will get back into the workplace.
Second, look at that huge upward spike before the recession took its toll. We suggest that rather than using the trend line he did, another way of looking at the stats is to draw horizontal lines from peak to peak.
Third, we cannot forget the impact of automation, which is driving people out of the market even though they would likely want to be in after the negative impact (the losses) of the recession.
Fourth, we believe the US stock markets are inflated and giving many aging people a relatively false sense of security. That may not appear relevant to you, but it is the direct result of the Fed’s QE. It’s “artificial.”
⇧ Chile rethinks its free market experiment – FT.com
For many outside observers, though, the poisonous debate about the “end of Chile’s miracle” is a storm in a teacup. Foreign companies continue to plough money into Chile. This year, Abbott Laboratories of the US spent $3.4bn buying local company CFR, while Itau, Latin America’s biggest bank, diversified outside Brazil with the $2.2bn purchase of Corpbanca.
Moreover, education reform is funded by tax increases, unlike the social policies of regional spendthrifts such as Argentina or Venezuela. That should ensure macroeconomic stability, in principle. The macroeconomy has also responded to the end of the commodity cycle. “Chile is the only Latin American country that has started a sound external balance adjustment,” Bank of America Merrill Lynch wrote in a research note.
Nonetheless, ideological debate rages.
⇧ Each dollar spent on kids’ nutrition can yield more than $100 later
Children who are undernourished during the first 1,000 days of their lives typically show stunted growth patterns by the age of three and have poorer cognitive skills than their well-fed peers. As adults they are less educated, earn lower wages and have more health problems throughout their lives.
⇧ Martin Wolf on Germany and Europe – YouTube
This is largely in line with what we’ve consistently writtten about Germany. We won’t go into where we disagree with Martin.
The latter half of the last century saw Germany emerge from the ashes as Europe’s central power. Martin Wolf, chief economics commentator, tells Lionel Barber, editor, why he thinks the country needs to be more proactive in its leadership role.
⇧ Columbia Apartments Enjoy Back-to-Back Strong Quarters – YouTube
Columbia’s apartment sector posted strong revenue gains over the last two quarters. But in the bigger picture, Columbia remains a laggard in the otherwise-hot Carolinas region.
⇧ 12 OYS: Family left without heat; code inspectors cite real estate company
Code inspectors found 15 violations, including a faulty water heater, a running bathtub faucet and a broken smoke detector. Brown said he is going to have to break his lease, because its just too cold.
⇧ Our house prices are rising at fastest rate in world globally – Independent.ie
“…these sort of increases are unsustainable in the long run and it is likely that Ireland’s market will show some cooling going forward.”
…Dublin’s market, which is heading for 20pc increases by year’s end, is already slowing down amid indications that estate agents have overpriced properties in the last quarter.
They did so in the expectation of an investor feeding frenzy in the wake of the capital gains relief expiry that has largely not materialised.
Scores of houses have been left unsold in the last quarter thanks to ambitious pricing and these are now being reduced in order to secure a sale.
⇧ China: Turning away from the dollar – FT.com
This is of huge geopolitical importance.
…China is effectively locked into a steady continuation of US Treasury investment because any sudden selldown of its huge holdings could send Treasury prices into a tailspin, thereby slashing the value of Beijing’s position. In addition, says Jonathan Anderson of Emerging Advisors Group, China’s Treasury investments are a byproduct of Beijing’s intervention in currency markets to prevent the type of surge in the renminbi’s value that would have eroded the competitiveness of its exports.
What is clear is that Beijing’s intention to diversify the deployment of its foreign exchange reserves is strengthening. …
The renminbi’s progress has been more rapid than many expected. In October, more than 22 per cent of China’s trade was settled in its own currency, according to Standard Chartered, up from almost nothing five years ago. … Western governments are endorsing the currency, with the UK, Australia’s state of New South Wales and the Canadian province of British Columbia issuing renminbi-denominated debt in the past months. Michael de Jong, finance minister of British Columbia, says the debt issue fulfilled several aims, including improving ties with China and attracting financial services from the US.
Such optimism will be welcomed in Beijing as it pursues a master plan to break free of US dominance in global finance and create a parallel, Sino-centric system that takes its cue from a mighty renminbi. Of course, much could yet conspire to blow China’s ambitions off course. But if even half of what it envisages is achieved, the impact on US debt financing, the future of development finance and the opening of Chinese financial markets to international capital would be profound.
Let’s not forget that China’s economy is already larger than that of the US. Also, China has not signed onto sanctions against Russia.
BTW, it won’t be long at the rate they are going for the combined Chinese and Russian militaries to surpass the US military.
It remains to be seen whether China will land on its feet after the inevitable downturn of its economy.