Home Ownership and the American Dream

What defines the American Dream? A new poll by Big Builder reveals that one answer to this enduring question may be home ownership. A major portion of the American population (59%) believes that they are living the American Dream. Respondents distinguished owning a home as the second most important factor of the American Dream, just behind raising a family.  read more »

The MERS Mess

In 1995, seeking to streamline mortgage processing, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and a group of banks came together to create a new company to register and assign mortgages. The company, Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. (MERS), served as a way for mortgage originators to quickly process new mortgages, centralizing files and cutting down on the need to deal with local government record keepers.  read more »

Hong Kong Response to High Housing Prices: Expand Land Supply

Hong Kong financial chief John Tsang has promised to expand the city's land supply for residential housing, "in response to rising public anger over soaring property prices and repeated warnings of a looming real estate bubble." Channel News Asia's Hong Kong bureau indicated that the move was precipitated by the "sky-high" housing cost that have been drive by insufficient land for development and speculation (which routinely is intensified where demand for housing is  read more »

Housing Crisis in Australia

Even if Australia is a beautiful place to live, it is far from affordable. Results from the Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey show that some of the country’s major cities rank near the bottom of the list of areas with affordable housing. Out of the 325 cities analyzed, Perth ranks 291st, Melbourne ranks 321st, and Sydney ranks 324th.  read more »

A New Word in Development

In the old days a "blurb" was a positive promotional recommendation statement on a book jacket. I have done a few myself. Now we are informed by the developer of Civita, an urban infill project in San Diego, that "blurb" really means a cross between suburban and urban.

Are they going to put a picture of it on a book jacket?  read more »

Home Sweet McMansion

Is the new American house, with three-car garages and laundry chutes like Olympic ski runs, an improvement over the old ones that were limited to a cozy dining room, a den, and a kitchen that held a small round table on which was kept a toaster?

The size of the American house tracks the evolution of the budget deficit and national debt. Think of McMansions as you would the Federal Reserve Bank—an imposing edifice with the contents of the garage pledged to Household Finance, if not the Chinese.

Many neighborhoods have become the United States of Gatsby.  read more »


Miami Condo Price Implosion Continues

The National Association of Realtors has just published its quarterly median house prices and the trend continues downward in Miami. At the end of the third quarter, the median condominium price had dropped to $82,900 in Miami, about the same as the list price for a BMW-7 sedan. This places condominium prices at 77 percent below the 2007 second quarter median of $367,000.  read more »

Modifying Loans and the Decision-Makers

A recent editorial in The New York Times lamented the latest housing market woes, this time resulting from various banks’ disregard for, or inattentiveness to, a legal foreclosure process. As the article correctly states, “It is hard to be shocked.”  read more »

The Commonwealth Bank of Australia/UBS-Demographia Data Dispute

The Age (Melbourne) headlined a story "CBA Accused of Choosing its Facts." CBA is the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, while UBS is the Swiss investment house. Commonwealth produced a report comparing housing affordability in Australian metropolitan areas to international metropolitan areas (Australian Housing and Mortgages: CBA Mortgage Book Secure).  read more »

City of Austin Approves Big Greenfield Development

Despite its smart growth policies, the city of Austin has approved a new development on the urban fringe that will include new detached housing starting at $115,000.

Austin is the third fastest growing metropolitan area with more than 1,000,000 residents in the United States, following Raleigh, North Carolina and Las Vegas. The city of Austin accounted for 53% (672,000) of the metropolitan area's 1.27 million population in 2000, but has seen more than 70% of the growth since that time go to the suburbs. Now the metropolitan area has 1.65 million people, and the city has 785,000.  read more »