A US Home Ownership Turn Around?


The Census Bureau reports that home ownership in the United States rose to 63.9 percent in the third quarter of 2017. This continues a rising trend since the second quarter of 2016, when home ownership had dropped to 62.9. This equaled the previous low of 51 years before (1965), just a year after annual data reporting began. Home ownership peaked at 69.2 percent during the housing bubble and had been generally declining since late 2006 (Figure).  read more »


What Happens After Half Your Town Burns Down?


Last month I wrote about how insurance companies are getting ahead of the curve by preemptively dropping coverage and/or significantly raising the cost of policies for properties believed to be at increased risk. Less than four weeks later forest fires ripped through Sonoma and Napa counties and destroyed 7,000 structures – most of them single family homes. These fires are now ranked as the most destructive and expensive in California history.  read more »

2nd Quarter Home Price Indices


Someone just paid $1.1 million for a tear-down/fixer-upper in Mountain View, California. That’s not really news, as prices in Silicon Valley have been increasingly outrageous. What’s news is that they bought the house with the provisos that the existing owner will get to live there for seven years; the buyer didn’t get to see the interior of the home; and the buyer is required to make improvements before closing on the home.  read more »


RBC Report Highlights Increasing Housing Affordability Challenges in Canada


Households could face even greater housing affordability challenges in the years to come, according to the September 2017 RBC Economics (RBC) Housing Trends and Affordability report.  read more »

Highest Cost Rental Markets: Even Worse for Buyers


There is considerable concern about rising rents, especially in the most expensive US housing markets. Yet as tough as rising rents are, the high rent markets are also plagued by even higher house costs relative to the rest of the nation. As a result, progressing from renting to buying is all the more difficult in these areas.  read more »

Protecting Cities in Fire-Prone Regions


If you live in a fire-prone area, which includes most of California, it is not a good idea to allow ivy and other plants to cover the sides of your building, as this winery and this church did near Santa Rosa. Both were lost to last week’s wildfires.  read more »

Housing Unaffordability Policies: "Paying for Dirt"


Issi Romem, buildzoom.com's chief economist has made a valuable contribution to the growing literature on the severe unaffordability of housing in a number of US metropolitan areas.  read more »

Rising Rents Are Stressing Out Tenants And Heightening America's Housing Crisis


The home-buying struggles of Americans, particularly millennials, have been well documented. Yet a recent study by Hunt.com found that the often-proposed “solution” of renting is not much of a panacea. Rents as a percentage of income, according to Zillow, are now at a historic high of 29.1%, compared with the 25.8% rate that prevailed from 1985 to 2000.  read more »


How We Are Kluging the World's Growth Process

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The quirks of software and operating systems that we seem to experience on a daily basis are the result of Kluges – almost all software is written with fixes that work for a particular problem, often without knowing exactly why that fix works. As both a land planner and developer of high level precision design and engineering software, I do not allow kluged fixes – for either business.  read more »

Progressive Cities: Home of the Worst Housing Inequality


America's most highly regulated housing markets are also reliably the most progressive in their political attitudes. Yet in terms of gaining an opportunity to own a house, the price impacts of the tough regulation mean profound inequality for the most disadvantaged large ethnicities, African-Americans and Hispanics.  read more »