Linking ≠ endorsement.
⇧ Tales from Greater Boston’s brutally competitive home buying market – Real estate news – Boston.com
“Buyers must practice extreme patience as we await more inventory to enter the 2016 market,” Rosenfeld wrote in an email. “They must remain focused on themselves when they face the competition and make their best offer. I also encourage exploring different markets in order to expand their options.”
Where are the builders? Can they find land and skilled workers or train them?
⇧ [Warning: This one has an auto-play video] Affordability continues to challenge the housing market – Yahoo Finance
New home sales dropped 9.2% in January from December, with a whopping 32% plunge in sales in the Western part of the country, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Some parts of the country are experiencing even larger price appreciations. In San Francisco’s booming housing market, many neighborhoods have seen home prices soar in the past year, and they are now regularly above $1 million, according to data from Trulia. Roschelle sees the run-up in Bay Area housing prices as the reason for the West’s steep decline in new homes sales.
Yet other regions remain within the grasp of homebuyers. Places like Atlanta or Nashville, he said, “have really, really compelling stories for affordability.”
⇧ Fed’s Fischer, Brainard see signs inflation increasing
She told CNBC that, while the recent core inflation number was “encouraging,” she wanted to see more consistent movement toward the inflation target. Brainard noted that the Fed has made “a lot of progress” toward achieving full employment, but has not yet seen enough movement toward its inflation goal.
“I’m going to be very focused on inflation, but I want to see a pattern. I want to see some persistence. That would give me comfort,” she said.
Fischer also said empirical evidence has not yet shown that negative interest rates are not effective in Japan and Europe.
⇧ St. Louis Real Estate Prices Are Up 3.8 Percent | News Blog | St. Louis News and Events | Riverfront Times
You may have scoffed at the notion that St. Louis would be one of the nation’s top real estate markets in 2016, but the numbers are in, and 2015 finished with a bang. Real estate prices were up 3.8 percent in the last quarter of 2015 compared to the same quarter in 2014, according to the National Association of Realtors.
Yes, but now tell me why. Tell me about the labor market there and new construction. What’s being built? Who’s buying it?
Home inventory remains at stupid low levels and must be driving the low sales growth numbers. We hit another record low of a 2.7 month supply of condos and townhomes and a 3.7 month supply of single family homes, which is down from a 3.7 and 4.8 month supply, respectively, last year. Both of these numbers represent what is known as a seller’s market.
Interestingly, not all areas of the city are having the same experience. For instance, the inventory of single family homes in Lake View is actually increasing right now and Lake View has always been a very popular area. Check out the first graph on that page I just linked to. In fact, the market for single family homes there has recently flipped into a buyer’s market with a 7.3 month supply of homes, up from 3.8 months last year and that is the highest level it’s been at since 2011.
⇧ A Detroit Startup Is Trying to Shake Up the City’s Housing Market | Innovation | Smithsonian
In Detroit, many of the brick mansions built in the boom days of the auto industry have fallen into neglect and disrepair. Even just a few blocks from the construction site for the new Red Wings stadium, houses are gutted and crumbling. But in those rundown historic homes, Andrew Colom and David Alade, two college friends with an interest in urban planning and social justice, saw an opportunity.
⇧ How should Canada regulate foreign ownership in the housing market? – Business – CBC News
The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation says it has been in contact with tax authorities and police agencies that track money laundering in order to beef up its data collection regarding foreign buyers.
CBC business columnist Don Pittis argued late last year that it’s a “scandal” Canada doesn’t have a good official estimate of how much foreign money is invested in Canadian housing, when other countries assemble that info as a matter of course.
People who speak against this might not understand the huge problem of money-laundering via international real-estate transactions or might secretly support criminality or be involved in it directly. Allowing criminals to drive up prices does not help the average citizen. It helps the criminals. Look at all the people suffering because of prices rising in parts of Canada at irrational rates. Money-laundering may well explain more of it than most people would assume. I think so. Anyway, it’s certainly worth investigating and shutting down.
⇧ Guess who holds the world’s 3rd largest real estate fortune? Yup, he’s from O.C. – The Orange County Register
The recently published Forbes lists of global billionaires pegged Bren’s worth at $15.1 billion. That’s the world’s 54th-largest personal fortune and the third most-valuable individual real estate empire on the planet.
Forbes says the biggest personal real estate fortune is held by China’s wealthiest man, developer Wang Jianlin. Forbes pegs the 61-year-old’s wealth at $28.7 billion — the world’s 18th-largest fortune, which includes ownership of the U.S. movie-theater chain AMC Entertainment. Second globally is Hong Kong land baron Lee Shau Kee, 88, worth $22.8 billion.
Depending on the day, Bloomberg ranks Jianlin or Hong Kong’s Li Ka-Shing, 87, as the world’s wealthiest real estate developer — with fortunes last week fluctuating around $27.5 billion.
⇧ Housing market supply problem – Business Insider
The US housing market has a major supply problem.
The basic problem posed by a tight housing supply is that it likely leads to continued upward pressure on home prices continuing a lack of affordability for first-time homebuyers.
This also keeps renters renting and, with rent inflation on the rise, potentially accelerate inflationary pressures already percolating in the US economy.
The outline here is that with housing prices taking off and business investment staying away from areas where it’s needed — housing! — and moving into other sectors that are near full-capacity inflation will take off.
And so you’ll have a Fed tightening financial conditions faster than expected. You’ll have a market adjusting to higher benchmark rates than expected. You’ll have inflation in the economy running hotter than expected all while housing supply is lower than needed.
If development and construction don’t find a way to better meet supply needs, if the government doesn’t step up to the plate with some fiscal help, the economy won’t over heat but do just the opposite. It will slow down because people won’t be able to afford to spend on much else than exorbitant rents. Plus, there are many other headwinds besides high rents. We might face deflation in everything but real estate all on account of the lack of will and vision to fiscally stimulate housing development for the affordable sector for both renters and purchasers. Even rents will find a ceiling because people simply won’t be able to pay even that if things slow enough.
We aren’t out of the woods yet, far from it.
⇧ Highest ever annual rise in carbon dioxide levels recorded | New Scientist
While the El Niño boost will be temporary, says Ralph Keeling of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, the long-term trend is that more and more CO2 is entering the atmosphere every year. What’s more, the rate of growth continues to increase.
⇧ EU Making `Big Mistake’ in Turkey Deal, Kurdish Leader Warns – Bloomberg Business
“Turkey is going very much in the wrong direction, with President Erdogan assuming complete power with limited checks and balances,” Griffiths said by e-mail on Monday. “Long-term investors are best advised to have no exposure to Turkey.”
I could not agree more. Let me say, the same applies to China right now too.
⇧ Real Estate Manager or COO?
How do property managers envision themselves? Are they building managers? Property managers? Real estate managers? Given the advancements that have been made in the profession over the past 15 years or so, if today you are not seeing yourself as COO of your asset you might be undervaluing your worth.
⇧ How foreign pullback might affect Seattle real estate | The Seattle Times
Wealthy Chinese have snapped up prime properties, especially on the Eastside, in all-cash offers. Markets such as Seattle are drawing an elite foreign clientele — people with the means to evade capital controls. …
As a result, don’t expect the trend to cool prices here in the near-term, barring a Chinese recession or other economic shock.
Well, what does “near-term” mean? If China teeters more, Xi will lower the boom on money leaving China. They won’t mess around over there. They put people to death who refuse to follow orders.
⇧ Yonkers may auction up to 250 foreclosed properties
Yonkers may auction up to 250 properties obtained through foreclosure from delinquent owners who haven’t paid their taxes.
The City Council is expected to vote Tuesday night on the first batch of 17 properties, which will be auctioned in the spring by Williams & Williams Real Estate Auctions. The property seizures, known as in rem, are part of a get-tough strategy.
⇧ Remarks reiterate South China Sea stance by Beijing | NWADG
China has no more rights to claim the South China Sea as its territory than Mexico to claim the Gulf of Mexico.
China is being extremely arrogant about this issue. It’s very counterproductive to China, which wants to be respected.
China should simply respect the 12-mile and 200-mile limits. It should equally cut the difference with all the other nations in the area, which have just as much right to that sea as does China.
Why China wants to create enemies over the South China Sea escapes me.
It will never be worth it to be so arbitrary, unfair, unjust, and bellicose (wrapped in the language of being a victim of the US in this).
See also: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Territorial_disputes_in_the_South_China_Sea
China’s foreign minister took a hard line Tuesday on the country’s claims to virtually all the South China Sea, saying it won’t permit other nations to infringe on what it considers its sovereign rights in the strategically vital area.
⇧ Explosion destroys businesses, injures 9 firefighters in Seattle’s Greenwood neighborhood | The Seattle Times
Andy Wappler, spokesman for Puget Sound Energy, said investigators have not pinpointed the source of the blast, but the theory that it was caused by natural gas is a “reasonable assumption.” However, it could take weeks before that’s confirmed, he said.
In the meantime, gas has been shut off to the area, he said.
If the explosion was caused by a buildup of natural gas, he said it’s unclear whether it was ignited inside or outside the building.
⇧ Contiguous US sees warmest winter on record | TheHill
The contiguous United States had the warmest winter in 122 years of record keeping, federal officials said.
The winter record is just the latest to fall. 2015 was the hottest year globally, becoming the fourth since 2000 to break the record, and most months in 2015 were the warmest since record keeping began.
Meanwhile, there are people out there who refuse to acknowledge that they have been wrong about Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) and who insist that the warming would have occurred anyway without all the tons of CO2 that we, humans, pump into the atmosphere and that traps heat from otherwise escaping.
At best, they’ve bought into the same “sow doubt” strategy that the tobacco companies used about smoking and lung cancer and heart disease, etc.
The major oil companies are behind the “doubt” about global warming.
Well, the recent warming is not mere coincidence. It is cause and effect.
⇧ Millennials Buying in Suburban Areas in Increasing Numbers in U.S. – WORLD PROPERTY JOURNAL Global News Center
Among the share of buyers who said saving for a down payment was the most difficult task, millennials were most likely to cite student debt (53 percent) as the debt that delayed saving, while credit card debt was indicated more by Gen X (44 percent) and younger boomers (36 percent).
According to Yun, student debt is likely impacting more than just the millennial generation’s ability to buy a home. “Whether it’s from financing their own education or borrowed for their children, it’s somewhat surprising to see a higher median amount of student debt among Gen X ($28,000) and younger boomer buyers ($29,100) compared to millennials ($25,000),” adds Yun. “One of the many reasons housing supply has been subdued in recent years may be because a segment of homeowners have decided to delay trading up or moving down in order to pay down their debt, including from student loans.”
⇧ Jobs up, housing market sluggish in Inland Empire
“Residential (construction and home ownership) hasn’t taken off because there is still residual fear from the recession and people are more willing to rent than to buy because they’re still worried” about their own economic situations, said Husing, chief economist for the Inland Empire Economic Partnership business advocacy group.
⇧ China doesn’t want any more “weird architecture” – YouTube
“Weird” and unusual architecture may soon be a thing of the past in China, following a directive issued by the Chinese State Council that calls for an end to “bizarre” and “oversized” buildings.
⇧ Scientists’ Concerns Challenge Conservative Sea-Level Rise Projections – YouTube
The most sobering evidence of the planet’s response to greenhouse gases comes from the fossil record. New evidence scientists are collecting suggests that ice sheets may be more vulnerable than previously believed, which has huge implications for sea level rise.
⇧ Elite power and unearned wealth — Four Horsemen: The Survival Manual — Medium
The hangover of empire that has shaped the western economies means that rent-seeking activities are still regarded as entirely legitimate.
Does rent there mean the same as the rent paid to you as a landlord by a tenant of yours? It depends upon the work you’ve done and still do. If all you’ve ever done is deal in money, then it’s rent-seeking. If on the other hand, you’ve worked in some other capacity and perhaps saved, invested, fixed, and maintained the rented-out property(s), it falls into a somewhat different category for the rent-seeking of old or current purely passive investing in real estate.
But what was wrong with the rent-seeking of old and is wrong with present-day rent-seeking, you might ask.
Well, focus on the inequality aspect in the article. Then, ask yourself to what degree you’re contributing to that. If you’re striving not just for yourself, not just your individual interest aside from everyone else’s (and I mean beyond your close family and friends and associates) but are genuinely interested and helpful regarding the downtrodden in life, then you fall into a different category from the rent-seekers, per se.
Rent-seekers do not work other than juggling their money around to get the highest return off the work of others. If you’re not doing that, you’re not a rent-seeker. You may be doing a mix of work and rent-seeking, however, and may see nothing wrong in it. Nevertheless, don’t forget the poor, who may not be as smart as you are or as fit as you are in terms of being able to create a landlord/real-estate-investment business.
If this comes off as preachy, that’s somewhat understandable. The object, though, isn’t to make hardworking landlords feel bad. The object is to understand the inherent injustice in those who don’t work simply shuffling money around, if they don’t have others doing that for them, while demanding low capital-gains taxes and holding others down via unnecessarily low wages or lack of benefits or what have you. Strange as it may seem to you if you’ve not thought about it, but those full-blown rent-seekers doing that to others are harming your society and economy and making it even harder for you to get ahead.
⇧ The Eviction Economy – The New York Times
This is a good follow-up on the article immediately above.
Those of us who don’t live in trailer parks or inner cities might think low-income families typically benefit from public housing or some other kind of government assistance. But the opposite is true. Three-quarters of families who qualify for housing assistance don’t get it because there simply isn’t enough to go around. This arrangement would be unthinkable with other social services that cover basic needs. What if food stamps only covered one in four families?
Throughout our history, wage gains won by workers through organized protest were quickly absorbed by rising rents. As industrial capitalists tried to put down the strikes, landlords cheered workers on. …
A universal housing voucher program would fundamentally change the face of poverty in the United States. Evictions would plummet, and so would the other social problems they cause, like family and community instability, homelessness, job loss and depression. Suicides attributed to evictions and foreclosures doubled between 2005 and 2010. A universal housing voucher program would help reverse this disturbing trend.
It’s in our interest that there be enough affordable housing and that everyone be properly housed.
⇧ Mortgage Foreclosure Rate Lowest Since 2003 by James Woodard | Creators Syndicate
“The delinquency rate for mortgage loans on one-to-four-unit residential properties decreased to a seasonally adjusted rate of 4.77 percent of all loans outstanding at the end of the fourth quarter of 2015. This was the lowest level since the third quarter of 2006.
⇧ When “Rent” Becomes a Four-Letter Word
“Struggles with rent in Illinois are not limited to Chicago alone, and the number of people paying unaffordable rent in many areas is well above the national average,” said Angela Boyd, managing director of the Make Room campaign. “The combination of rising rents and stagnant wages makes it particularly difficult for Illinois renters to make ends meet, let alone build wealth or grow the economy. Unfreezing the $25 million in HOME funds that have already been allocated is just a start; state legislators must make affordable housing a priority to protect renters for the long term.”
⇧ New Book Calls for Better Targeting of Federal Housing Money | Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
Harvard sociologist Matthew Desmond — whose new book Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City shows how the lack of affordable housing drives many poor families deeper into poverty — argues for expanding the Housing Choice Voucher program to serve all eligible households, rather than the one in four that now receive rental assistance due to limited funding. “We have the money,” he points out, referring to overall federal dollars allotted for housing assistance and homeowner tax benefits. “We’ve just made choices about how to spend it.” …
As our chart book Federal Housing Spending Is Poorly Matched to Need explains, the federal government provides much larger housing subsidies to higher-income people — mostly through the mortgage interest deduction — than to lower-income people, even though they’re much less likely to need help affording adequate housing.
⇧ Are Central Banks Really Out of Ammunition? by Adair Turner – Project Syndicate
If governments run larger fiscal deficits and finance this not with interest-bearing debt but with central-bank money — nominal demand will undoubtedly increase, producing some mix of higher inflation and higher real output.
The option of so-called “helicopter money” is therefore increasingly discussed. …
… Very small money-financed deficits would produce only a minimal impact on nominal demand: very large ones would produce harmfully high inflation. Somewhere in the middle there is an optimal policy — a common-sense proposition that is often missing from the debate.
Amid the confusion, the one really important political issue is ignored: whether we can design rules and allocate institutional responsibilities to ensure that monetary financing is used only in an appropriately moderate and disciplined fashion, or whether the temptation to use it to excess will prove irresistible.
That’s what I’ve been writing about for more years than I can remember and why I’ve said that the entire system should be automated so politicians would leave it on autopilot. The mandate should be given to software designers, engineers, and programmers, etc., to come up with the system that would allow the maximum amount of governmental spending directly into the economy without causing inflation or deflation.
“Monetary-and-Banking-Reform Platform for The United States”: Here
⇧ Now Canada is trying a basic income, Britain can ignore it no longer | Voices | The Independent
The province of Ontario, we learn this week, is set to become the first region of the country to test a “basic income”, a social support system that does away with means-tested welfare and replaces it with a single, universal payment that every citizen is entitled to. It is the ultimate leveller — and, as such, is the latest fad in leftish circles. And, apparently, Trudeau and his party are interested in extending this idea further.
… First, it creates a system of social support that removes the stigma created by means-tested welfare. Those who are out of work because they are disabled, studying, between jobs or caring for a child or relative are all treated in the same way as those who are, in fact, working. Second, with a basic income to rely on, work always pays, encouraging enterprise and creativity. Tax takes rise as personal allowances are axed, while earned income is taxed at a higher level.
And third, perhaps hardest to believe and yet undoubtedly true, it’s a hell of a lot lighter on the public purse than a means test. If you remove a bureaucracy, you remove cost.
At home [Britain], the Conservative government has little interest in the idea, although the case for a basic income from the right has been made on the grounds that it reduces state involvement and interference in private lives.
However, one of its long standing advocates on the left, John McDonnell, has gone from being an anonymous backbencher to shadow chancellor in a matter of months.
Fad? That’s not the term I would use, but still….
⇧ JLL: Multifamily growth shifting from urban to suburban – FMLink
Even as many downtown multifamily markets continue to grow, achieving new historic market highs, the suburbs are clearly gaining steam. This is evident in the pricing gap between urban and suburban product, which is tightening in 83.8 percent of all U.S. markets relative to the historic norm.
It’s what happens when there’s insufficient construction.
⇧ States creating initiatives to aid millennials with housing costs | State News | pawtuckettimes com
Realizing that millennials like Hernandez are burdened with debt, a difficult job market, weak wage growth and a less affordable housing market than their parents, some states are looking to keep educated young professionals within their borders for years to come by helping out with their housing costs.
Initiatives like mortgage down-payment assistance, rent subsidies, urban homesteading incentives, partial student loan reimbursement and even “millennial villages” are being considered across the country to help professionals put down roots in communities.
⇧ Investors See Opportunity in Value-Add Strategies for Class-B Multifamily Assets
Redevelopers should also take care not to disrupt a good thing when they “improve” a fully-occupied class-B or class-C apartment building. These projects often do well in areas where employers are creating new jobs, with salaries high enough to pay higher “value-added” rents. Class-B and class-C communities are already doing very well in most parts of the country. The percentage of these apartments that are vacant is extremely low, below 3.0 percent in many metropolitan areas. “This is because developers do not often build class-B buildings,” says Barbara Byrne Denham, economist with New York City-based research firm Reis Inc.
⇧ Millennials and Why They Will Rent From You
This article is designed to encourage property owners to hire Bay Management Group to manage property renting to Millennials. So, you might think you should just skip over it. However, it’s written well and actually full of interesting data about Millennials.
⇧ What the fierce liberal debate on free trade misses
We can export and import with China all we want, and as long as those flows net out to roughly zero (or a trade surplus for America), there’s no harm, no foul. We can address that with better rules about currency manipulation, rather than restricting trade with tariffs. And even if there is a trade deficit, we can make up the loss of demand with the right fiscal and monetary policies.
“… we can make up the loss of demand with the right fiscal and monetary policies.” That depends on how one is defining monetary. We could make up any loss with the right fiscal policies without any monetarism at all.
Scott Paul, president of the Washington-based nonprofit Alliance for American Manufacturing, says …
If there was a single silver bullet piece of legislation that you could pass, I hope that would’ve been done a long time ago. But it’s obviously a suite of challenges, just like any industry that’s in global competition faces. But I think the most useful thing policymakers could do involves shoring up on the domestic side our competitiveness, which means investing in skills and training [and in] our infrastructure; continuing investments in research and development between the public and private sectors to ensure we maintain a technological lead that we’re incorporating on our factory floors.
And it also means ensuring that we have a competitive tax code. It doesn’t mean cutting the rate way down across the board … but we need to focus on particular tax provisions that promote incentives to invest and recover the cost of capital in the United States — accelerated depreciation and other types of tax mechanisms that can be useful for encouraging investment in the United States. This is why presidential [candidates] don’t talk about this all the time. You can’t say this in 10 seconds.
On the trade side, I think it does involve some rebalancing of trade. We have to be pretty aggressive about policing subsidized or dumped imports into our economy, and we should take a look at demanding some reciprocity, particularly from countries with which we have some pretty lopsided trade balances. China and Japan are principal among those, by volume. I think there’s a need there. And also on the monetary policy front, [we need] to ensure that the dollar is fairly and competitively valued rather than being overvalued, which has a dampening impact on our ability to export.
There could be a better future for manufac turing. I don’t think that it’s inevitable that we have to lose a significant number of manufacturing jobs in the years ahead. But that’s incumbent upon broader growth in the economy, a more competitive and reasonable exchange rate and making some of those domestic investments so that we can ensure that we’re globally competitive. A lot of these are policy choices and not necessarily market forces. I recognize that there are business cycles, but there needs to be good policy as well.
Obviously, that’s all said from the mixed-economy perspective with an emphasis on competition, which Scott Paul wants to be fair competition. However, we could go ahead with all those things without being concerned about competition, per se. In fact, I think competition is a distraction from global development.
Cooperation is the right path forward. Cooperation requires the right ideology though. That’s where education comes in. The world needs to be educated about the potential inherent in real democracy, not the system we have in the US right now, which is cronyism and elitism.
⇧ High End Sales Will Continue to Slide in San Francisco, NYC
The “back-up” of high-end housing inventory means that sales in two of the country’s priciest housing markets—New York and San Francisco—should continue to fall. This is especially true in the Big Apple.
What’s causing this increase in inventory? There is more than one reason but something to look at is the volatility of the stock market. We recently produced research about the strong relationship between equity markets and sales of homes priced $1 million or home and how the 10 percent decline in stock prices since the fall of 2015 was affecting that segment of the residential market. Now it looks like even the uber-rich aren’t immune.
Yes, but they won’t be going hungry.
⇧ Huntington Beach Refusing State Order to Build Affordable Housing – Curbed LA
In a unanimous decision on Monday, the Huntington Beach City Council voted down a measure to create low-income and high density housing at several sites in the city; with an overflow crowd pouring into City Hall to protest the initiative, the council elected to side with the assembled public over the demands of the California state government.
In June, the California Department of Housing and Community Development alerted the city that it was not in compliance with state standards for affordable housing construction, but the council has repeatedly rejected proposals that would have allowed the city to meet its quota (it is now more than 400 units short). Huntington Beach has until September to meet the state’s demands for construction.
⇧ Orison threatens to take on Tesla with its home battery – Tech Insider
Solar and batteries sure are going to make a huge difference if something even better doesn’t come along sooner, which could happen at the rate technology is advancing.
What policy would you have concerning these and your rental properties?
⇧ The end of the Chinese miracle | FT Features – YouTube
China’s economic miracle is under threat from a slowing economy and a dwindling labour force. The FT investigates how the world’s most populous country has reached a critical new chapter in its history. Jamil Anderlini narrates.
In the video, there’s no discussion of the potential for civil unrest or the environmental issues in China. Not surprisingly, I also didn’t here the term “democracy” even mentioned.
⇧ Tracking California Rains During El Niño – YouTube
This winter, areas across the globe experienced a shift in rain patterns due to the natural weather phenomenon known as El Niño. New NASA visualizations of rainfall data show the various changes to California.