Housing

The Dispersionist Manifesto

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We live in an era of the heady drumbeat of urban triumphalism. In a world that is now, by some measures, predominately urban, observers like historian Peter Hall envision a “coming golden age” of great cities. It is time to look at such claims more closely, replacing celebratory urban legends with careful analysis. Although the percentage of people living in cities is certain to grow, much of this growth will be in smaller cities, suburbs and towns.  read more »

How China’s Megacities Have Avoided Problems of Other Developing Cities

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Urbanist media can’t seem to get enough of the megacity these days. Much of the commentary surrounding this topic is disconcertingly celebratory about these leviathans despite such phenomena as overcrowding, high levels of congestion and sprawling slums.  read more »

China, Detroit, and Houston: How Ghost Properties Compare

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Learning about China's property boom and its "ghost" cities has given me a whole new perspective on my four decades in the building, land development and consulting fields. During these periods our economy has had various ups and downs. In ‘up’ times, the rise in construction of new housing and growth in commercial developments has been quite obvious. What I have always had a problem understanding is why there seemed to be new housing projects and commercial projects that sprouted up during the bad times.  read more »

The Problem With Megacities

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The triumphalism surrounding the slums and megacities frankly disturbs me. It is, of course, right to celebrate the amazing resilience of residents living in these cities’ massive slums. But many of the megacity boosters miss a more important point: that the proliferation of these sorts of communities may not be desirable or even necessary.  read more »

Actually, Cities are Part of the Economy

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“The prosperity of our economy and communities is dependent on the political structures and mechanisms used to manage and coordinate our economic systems.”

No politician expecting to be taken seriously would say that today.  read more »

Are Chinese Ready to Rent?

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In 2010 “House price” ranked third on the list of the top 10 most popular phrases used by Chinese netizens. It came to no one's surprise. In most Chinese cities housing prices have increased significantly over the past decade, with an especially sharp rise over the past three years.  read more »

New Jersey: Still Suburbanizing

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The state of New Jersey virtually defines suburbanization in the United States.  New Jersey is not home to the core of any major metropolitan area but, major portions of the nation's largest metropolitan area (New York) and the fifth largest metropolitan area (Philadelphia) are in the state (See map). These two metropolitan areas comprise 17 of the state's 21 counties. Another county (Warren) is in the Allentown, Pennsylvania metropolitan area, while Atlantic (Atlantic City), Cumberland and Cape May are single-county metropolitan areas.  read more »

Census 2010: A Texas Perspective

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If you want to get a glimpse of the future of the U.S., check out Fort Worth, TX. Never mind the cowboy boots, but you might want to practice your Spanish.

Texas is growing explosively and much of that growth is among Latinos.   The latest Census Bureau figures show the Lone Star State grew by 20%, to over 25 million people, recording about a quarter of the nation’s overall growth.  read more »

Britain's Housing Crisis: Causes and Solutions

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British house construction has remained at a low level for a decade.   Total new house and flat completions for all tenures last year were 113,670 for England, 17,470 for Scotland, and 6,170 for Wales. Excluding Northern Ireland that is 137,310 for Britain. Under 140,000 homes a year is low for a nation of 60 million.

We are nearly at the lowest level of housing production since reliable records began in the 1920s. (Note 1)    read more »

Mortgage Meltdown: How Underwriting Went Under

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The White House remedies for the mortgage meltdown were presented on Friday. Congress will debate the life extension, death, or rebirth of federal mortgage entities Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac during the coming weeks.

When the noise has died down, don't expect substantial change. But those who hope for genuine financial reform should, nonetheless, listen carefully not only to what Washington says, but to whom it says it.  read more »