Archive for the ‘housing and real estate’ Category

New From the GAO

September 19, 2014 Comments off

New GAO Reports and Testimony
Source: Government Accountability Office


1. Federal Real Property: DHS and GSA Need to Strengthen the Management of DHS Headquarters Consolidation. GAO-14-648, September 19.
Highlights –

2. DOD Joint Bases: Implementation Challenges Demonstrate Need to Reevaluate the Program. GAO-14-577, September 19.
Highlights –

3. Fish Stock Assessments: Prioritization and Funding. GAO-14-794R, September 19.


1. Federal Real Property: DHS and GSA Need to Strengthen the Management of DHS Headquarters Consolidation, by David C. Maurer, director, homeland security and justice, before the Subcommittee on Oversight and Management Efficiency, House Committee on Homeland Security. GAO-14-864T, September 19.

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Introduction to A Theory of the Allocation of Time by Gary Becker

September 17, 2014 Comments off

Introduction to A Theory of the Allocation of Time by Gary Becker (PDF)
Source: Institute for the Study of Labor

Gary Becker’s classic study, A Theory of the Allocation of Time, laid the analytical foundations for the study of household production and the allocation of time within the household. The analytical framework of household production theory developed in this paper remained a pillar of his later work on the economics of the family and the economics of nonmarket activities more generally. Becker provided a formal model of households producing outputs like food, children, and housing that bundled goods and time. Becker’s great contribution was to apply the model to interpret a broad array of empirical phenomena. Becker’s framework allowed for a deeper understanding of the mechanisms of consumer choice, and interpretation of income and substitution effects. Its continuing relevance in empirical economics is a testimony to its power.

The Role of Contagion in the Housing Boom (and Bust)

September 16, 2014 Comments off

The Role of Contagion in the Housing Boom (and Bust)
Source: Knowledge@Wharton

A run-up in housing prices in one metropolitan area has the ability to cause a similar housing boom in a neighboring area — but recent Wharton research examining the housing surge, and subsequent bust, in the middle of the last decade finds that such a bump cannot be explained fully by fundamental economic factors such as the spread of higher incomes or new jobs sparking greater employment in a nearby city.

The research paper, “The Role of Contagion in the Last American Housing Cycle,” was written by Wharton real estate professors Joseph Gyourko and Fernando Ferreira, and doctoral students Anthony DeFusco and Wenjie Ding.

The paper examines the boom, which crested in the middle of the last decade, followed by a woeful tumble that caused many homeowners to owe more on their mortgages than their homes were worth. The authors use that sinister sounding word, “contagion,” to describe the phenomenon of a housing boom spreading from one area to a neighboring area.

They illustrate the phenomenon in a series of maps that show the housing boom spreading, year after year, from region to neighboring region. It started in 1997 in California and the area connecting New York and Boston, slowly spreading along either coast, and into Arizona, Nevada and Florida.

The researchers crunched the numbers and found that as one metropolitan statistical area, or MSA, experienced a boom, its neighboring MSA often also saw a bump in activity, and remained higher for several years.

Safe as Houses: Majorities of Americans See Home Ownership, Gold and Jewelry as Safe Investments

September 14, 2014 Comments off

Safe as Houses: Majorities of Americans See Home Ownership, Gold and Jewelry as Safe Investments (PDF)
Source: Harris Interactive

Despite periods of volatility in the real estate market over the past few years, over seven in ten Americans (72%) see owning a home as a safe investment. Majorities agree on this point across generations, albeit with considerable shifts from one generation to the next: nine in ten Matures (89%) see home ownership as a safe investment, compared to just over three-fourths of Baby Boomers (77%) and seven in ten Gen Xers (70%). Even among Millennials – for whom the subprime mortgage crisis of 2007-2008 and the ensuing financial crisis it helped kick off is likely a more formative experience – the majority still see home ownership as a safe investment (63%), albeit with a slimmer majority vote than any of their elder counterparts.

Majorities of Americans also see gold (65%) and jewelry (59%) as safe investments.

Characteristics of New Single-Family Houses Completed

September 13, 2014 Comments off

Characteristics of New Single-Family Houses Completed
Source: U.S. Census Bureau

The new tables for New Single-Family Houses Completed include data on age-restricted developments, presence of homeowner’s association, foyer, framing, sewer and water systems and laundry. These tables show data back to 2009.

Planning for Marijuana: The Cannabis Conundrum

September 11, 2014 Comments off

Planning for Marijuana: The Cannabis Conundrum
Source: Journal of the American Planning Association

Problem, research strategy, and findings:
Twenty-three states and Washington, DC, have legalized medical marijuana, raising difficult land use questions for planners regarding allowable locations, buffering from sensitive uses, and distribution of facilities. We know little about how local jurisdictions regulate medical marijuana dispensary (MMD) location and operation and how equitably different regulatory models distribute these facilities. We begin with an overview of MMD impacts related to crime, property values, and quality of life. We then review emerging local regulation of MMDs with a particular emphasis on land use controls, and find that most authorities regulate MMD location like they do other locally unwanted land uses (LULUs) such as sex-oriented businesses and liquor stores. Given a history of siting LULUs in less-affluent neighborhoods and communities of color, we conduct a case study of Denver and show that four common regulatory models concentrate land that permits MMDs in socioeconomically disadvantaged tracts and areas with high proportions of persons of color.

Takeaway for practice:
Local planners are often caught unprepared for the land use implications of medical marijuana legalization. This outline of common land use regulatory models and a replicable analytical model help practitioners develop ordinances that square with their own communities’ goals, values, and attributes.

DHS OIG — CBP Did Not Effectively Plan and Manage Employee Housing in Ajo, Arizona

September 11, 2014 Comments off

CBP Did Not Effectively Plan and Manage Employee Housing in Ajo, Arizona (PDF)
Source: U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General
From email:

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) vastly overpaid for an overly elaborate employee housing project in remote Ajo, Arizona, a new Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General, report has found.

OIG Report No. OIG 14-131, “CBP Did Not Effectively Plan and Manage Employee Housing in Ajo, Arizona,” found that CBP paid an average of $680,000 each to build 21 single-family homes in Ajo, where home prices average $86,500. The units are for CBP employees stationed on and near the U.S.-Mexico border.

Specifically, the OIG found that CBP:

·Paid a premium price for land;
·Built two- and three-bedroom family-style houses rather than the recommended one -bedroom apartment-style housing; and
·Included nonessential items and amenities in the project without adequate justification.

“This is a classic example of inadequate planning and management leading to wasteful spending,” said Inspector General John Roth. “This project could have been completed at much less cost to the taxpayers.”


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