Obama Throws Life-Line to Smart Growth Areas

President Obama has announced a special program of assistance for home owners in the five states that have been hit hardest by the housing crisis. The proposed program is targeted at California, Florida, Arizona, Nevada and Michigan, where house price declines are more than 20% from the peak of the bubble.  read more »

Housing Affordability in Darwin, Australia: Still Dreadful

Darwin, capital of Australia’s Northern Territory is located next to the sea, across from the Indonesian archipelago. Darwin is also located next to a sea of developable land in one of the world’s least developed nations. Only 0.3% of Australia’s land is developed, approximately 1/10th the rate of the United States or Canada (in the agricultural belt) and even less compared to European nations.  read more »

Avoiding Housing Bubbles: Regulating the (Land Use) Regulators

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernacke called for stronger regulation to avoid future asset bubbles, such as the housing bubble that precipitated the international financial crisis (the Great Recession) in an Atlanta speech.  read more »

The Fed and Asset Bubbles: Beyond Superficiality

There is considerable discussion about tasking the Federal Reserve Board with monitoring and even taking actions to prevent asset bubbles. Before they move too far, the Fed needs to understand what happened in the housing bubble to which they responded after the world economy was decimated.  read more »

A Threat To Home Owners Associations

In the 1990s, just about the only site amenity that most suburban developments offered was a fancy entrance monument. Usually, there were no other additions beyond ordinance minimums and even those weren’t generally elaborate. Some of these monuments did cost millions, but once past the gilded gates, the seduction ended, and residents were greeted by familiar monotonous cookie cutter subdivisions.  read more »

The Week New Urbanism Died?

It has been a bad media week for New Urbanism.

The day that New Urbanism Died?” was the headline of the St. Louis Urban Workshop blog that detailed the Chapter 11 bankruptcy of Whittaker Builders, developer of the “New Town at St. Charles,” a premier New Urbanist community located in the St. Louis exurbs (beyond the suburbs).  read more »

American Hobbit Houses

Soon after President Obama took office, a proposed plan to “develop federal policies to induce states and local communities to embrace ‘smart growth’ land use strategies” was announced.

This “Livable Communities Program” is intended to save land and clean up the environment. It is seen as encouraging denser housing arrangements to deter automobile use and accommodate the transit industry, according to goals set by the Secretaries of HUD, EPA and Transportation.  read more »


NGVideo: Reviving Plotlands

Everybody knows we urgently need to build more homes in Britain, but how, when and where will this happen? WORLDbytes interviewed Ian Abley, an architect and manager of Audacity at the plotlands in Dunton, Essex where from the 1920s East End working class couples built cheap homes themselves. Could we do this now?  read more »

HOPE for Only One Homeowner with a $300 billion Price Tag

The Housing & Economic Recovery Act of 2008 was passed last August. It created the HOPE for Homeowners Program, which the Congressional Budget Office estimated would help 400,000 homeowners to refinance their loans and stay in their homes. Here's a stunning revelation: According to the Federal Housing Authority (FHA), in the first six months since the law was passed, exactly one (1) homeowner refinanced under the program!  read more »

Case-Shiller Housing Price Index Chart, December 2008 - The Free Fall Continues

S&P released the December Case-Shiller Housing Price Index data this morning: no market has been spared from the free fall. Steep price declines continue in ultra-bubble regions Las Vegas, Miami, San Diego, Phoenix, and Las Vegas. Even the relatively healthy markets of Charlotte, Dallas, and Atlanta have been sliding since mid-2008. Here's the line chart:  read more »