• Turnaround Housing Markets

    More data is coming out about the conditions of the housing markets in the United States.  Business Insider is the latest, offering its list of the Top 10 Turnaround Housing Markets based on the increase in price between late 2011 and the end of 2012 for a median priced home.  The percentage beside the city represents that change.

    1. Las Vegas   27.5%
    2. Seattle   24.0%
    3. Phoenix   21.8%
    4. Oakland   21.0%
    5. San Jose   20.8%
    6. Salt Lake City   20.5%
    7. Atlanta   18.9%
    8. Sacramento   17.9%
    9. Fresno   17.7%
    10. Tacoma   17.7%

    What’s not determined is what is behind the price escalation.  Is it a function of demand outpacing supply?  Is it the impact of excessive regulation?  More to come.

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  • Vibrant Urbanism – Christmas Edition

    Just the other day, I was telling someone that it is noticeable that you see far more lawn ornaments in the lower density, suburban ring around cities than you do in the central city.  This is due, in part, to the migration of families to the suburbs.  Not many moms and dads want to raise kids in a tiny apartment above a Starbucks.

    It’s also due to urban crime.  The person I spoke to responded that she had once lived near Gainesville’s downtown and remembers having her Christmas decorations stolen.  She has since moved to the rural outskirts of town.  In St. Louis, police are warning homeowners that the presence of Christmas lawn ornaments makes them a target for crime.

    In Chicago, thugs are choosing a different way to get into the holiday spirit.  On Chicago’s rail transit Blue Line, a woman was assaulted by a man who had a stocking filled with … goodies … er, no, … coal … er, no, … how about poop?  Yes, feces.  A man attacked a woman with a sock full of feces.

    “It was like the biggest degradation I’ve ever [experienced]. I wish he had just hit me,” the victim said.

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  • New New Urbanist Trend

    Turning churches into condos.  When you combine the general decline of organized religious participation with the New Urbanist doctrine that implicitly appeals to young urban singles who tend to be more secular in orientation, this is to be expected … for better or worse.

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  • Going Backward, Not Forward

    We already commented on this here, but the Washington Post has picked up on the new phenomenon of the 200 square foot house.  Instapundit calls this (sarcastically) our bright national future.

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  • The Homeowners No One Thinks Of

    Good article over at Democracy Journal: Manufactured Housing: The Homeowners No One Thinks Of

    “Most of us don’t think much about the people who live in manufactured homes, and when the culture notices them, it usually does so with derision. But there is an interesting and important asset-building story playing out here. The United States is home to some 50,000 manufactured housing communities with an estimated 2.7 million families who own their homes but rent the land underneath them. This housing stock—both in parks and on owned single lots—represents the largest segment of unsubsidized affordable housing in the nation. Two-thirds of these homeowners are low income.”

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  • Affordable Housing Markets

    CNN Money is out with its list of affordable housing markets.  Smart Growth Cities … are not among them.

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  • The Universality of Property Rights

    Even in communist China, people understand they should have a right to private property.

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  • The Disappearing Dwelling Unit

    If Smart Growthers love compact development, which is their buzzword for small apartments in crowded environments, they will really love San Francisco where the city’s Board of Supervisors voted to approve an ordinance approving the development of 220 square foot apartments.  That’s right – 220 square foot apartments.

    These tiny spaces are meant to address San Francisco’s housing crisis “where one bedroom apartments and studios can run up to $3,000 per month in rent.”  But the problem with housing in this region is not the absence of tiny homes but rather it’s excessive land use regulations that stifle development and impose huge costs on building homes.

    Hey, to the extent there is a “market demand” for 220 square foot apartments, let them build.  But there is also a demand for 1000 square foot homes, and 1500 square foot homes, and 2000 square foot homes and 2500 square foot homes, etc., etc., etc.  Let builders build to meet the housing preferences of all!

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  • Costs & Benefits of Green Housing

    The Bay Citizen has a story touting a report that “green” homes sell for nearly 10 percent more than regular homes:  “California homes that meet environmental standards, such as energy efficiency and proximity to public transportation, are selling at higher prices than homes that don’t.”

    The part about “proximity to public transportation” is probably a gratuitous offer by the reporter since transit use is so pathetic in most urban areas.  Instead, what adds value to a home are things like well-insulated ceilings and walls and energy-efficient lighting that researchers at UC Berkeley and UCLA looked at in their study.  For many people, these things create long term savings that are worth the higher up-front costs.

    Housing policy, like all public policy, bestow benefits but also costs to the user.  The problem with reports like this one is that over-zealous politicians will see only the benefits and believe they can mandate these savings for everyone.  You can expect the simple-minded central planners to cite this study to justify more onerous regulations.  Yet there are also costs.

    Making homes 10 percent more expensive invariably prices some people out of the market.  They are stuck in the rental market, wanting but unable to achieve the dream of owning their own home.  There are benefits to widespread homeownership.  Green mandates diminish these benefits.

    A truly robust housing market has a little bit of everything, and political leadership that truly respects its citizens doesn’t mandate its “preferred” option.  In a lightly regulated market, some people will “go green” because it makes sense to them and they can afford it while others will go with a tradition build for them because it works for them.

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  • Compact Living = High Rents

    In addition to the crowding and congestion, another “feature” of the high density living that urban planners seem to love is … high rents.  The New York Post reports that rents in Manhattan are growing at a rapid rate with the average rent in Manhattan at $3,778 monthly, up 9 percent since last year.  And “average studio rents leaped to $2,569 in the second quarter of the year, a whopping 18.8 percent jump compared with the same period in 2011.”

    We’re talking small units here.  Not as small as NYC Mayor Bloomberg is pushing for, but small nonetheless.

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