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New Estimates of Value of Land of the United States

April 15, 2015 Comments off

New Estimates of Value of Land of the United States (PDF)
Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

Land is an important and valuable natural resource, serving both as a store of wealth and as an input in production. Previous attempts to measure the value of land of the United States have focused on indirect measures, inferring values based on the difference between the market value of real property and the replacement value of structures, and have not counted the entirety of the land area of the United States. Instead, this paper takes hedonic estimates of land prices in various locations and interpolates these values to a mosaic of parcels, census tracts, and counties of various sizes in the contiguous (lower 48) United States plus the District of Columbia. Estimates suggest that this 1.89 billion acres of land are collectively worth approximately $23 trillion in 2009 (current prices), with 24% of the land area and $1.8 trillion of the value held by the federal government.

Supreme Court decisions creating economic uncertainty for First Nations, for Canada

April 13, 2015 Comments off

Supreme Court decisions creating economic uncertainty for First Nations, for Canada
Source: Fraser Institute

Recent Supreme Court decisions on aboriginal rights and title are impeding, rather than helping, the economic prosperity of First Nation communities, according to a new study released today by the Fraser Institute, an independent, non-partisan Canadian policy think-tank.

“The positive aspect of the new jurisprudence is the Court’s recognition that aboriginal peoples did possess and continue to possess ownership of land. Unfortunately, these decisions have conveyed new property rights that First Nations will find difficult to use in Canada’s market economy,” said Tom Flanagan, Fraser Institute senior fellow and author of Clarity and confusion? The new jurisprudence of aboriginal title.

For example, the Tsilhqot’in decision—which granted title of more than 1,700 square kilometres of land in B.C.’s interior to the Tsilhqot’in Nation—is potentially of enormous economic benefit to First Nations. That benefit, however, is reduced because the aboriginal title is restricted to “communal” ownership, meaning that the lands cannot be sold privately. Research demonstrates that on-reserve property rights (ie: individual ownership) encourages economic growth and higher standards of living.
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Building Healthy Places Toolkit: Strategies for Enhancing Health in the Built Environment

April 9, 2015 Comments off

Building Healthy Places Toolkit: Strategies for Enhancing Health in the Built Environment
Source: Urban Land Institute

ULI’s Building Healthy Places Toolkit: Strategies for Enhancing Health in the Built Environment outlines evidence-supported opportunities for enhancing health outcomes in real estate developments.

Developers, owners, property managers, designers, investors, and others involved in real estate decision making can use the report’s recommendations and strategies to create places that contribute to healthier people and communities, and to enhance and preserve value by meeting growing desires for health-promoting places.

The Impact of Foreclosures on Neighborhood Crime

April 9, 2015 Comments off

The Impact of Foreclosures on Neighborhood Crime (PDF)
Source: National Criminal Justice Reference Service

In the last few years, mortgage foreclosures have uprooted millions of households, and many have expressed concern that the foreclosed homes they leave behind are increasing crime. The three papers that emerged from our project study this question by examining whether and how elevated foreclosures affect different types of crime in the immediately surrounding area, in five cities around the country.

In our first paper, we use point-specific, longitudinal crime and foreclosure data from New York City to examine how foreclosures affect crime on the same blockface– an individual street segment including properties on both sides of the street. We compare changes in crime on blockfaces after homes on the blockface enter foreclosure to changes on other blockfaces in the same neighborhood that did not experience foreclosures during the same time period.

In our second two papers we focus more on identifying mechanisms and also extend our analysis to four other cities to test for generalizability. Our second paper, focused on Chicago, finds similar results as we did in New York City: an increase in the number of properties that receive foreclosure notices appears to increase total, violent, and public order crime on blockfaces in Chicago. In addition, our estimates suggest that foreclosures change the location of crime.

In our third paper, we explore the relationship between foreclosures and crime in five cities, Atlanta, Chicago, Miami, New York, and Philadelphia. Overall, we find that properties banks take over through foreclosure (real estate owned or REO) are associated with higher crime both in the census tract and on the blockface. However, once we control for the number of properties in the foreclosure process (which we can do in three cities), we find no evidence that the presence of REO properties increases crime. Rather, it is the properties on the way to foreclosure auctions that appear to elevate crime.

Collectively, these results suggest that local law enforcement and housing agencies should track foreclosure notices and monitor properties as they go through the foreclosure process, as their owners have little incentive to maintain them.

Warren Buffett’s mobile home empire preys on the poor

April 8, 2015 Comments off

Warren Buffett’s mobile home empire preys on the poor
Source: Center for Public Integrity

Buffett’s mobile home empire promises low-income Americans the dream of homeownership. But Clayton relies on predatory sales practices, exorbitant fees, and interest rates that can exceed 15 percent, trapping many buyers in loans they can’t afford and in homes that are almost impossible to sell or refinance, an investigation by The Center for Public Integrity and The Seattle Times has found.

House Price Growth When Children are Teenagers: A Path to Higher Earnings?

April 1, 2015 Comments off

House Price Growth When Children are Teenagers: A Path to Higher Earnings?
Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Boston

This paper examines whether a rise in house prices that occurs immediately prior to children entering college has an impact on their earnings as adults. Higher house prices provide homeowners with additional funds to invest in their children’s human capital. The results show that a 1 percentage point increase in house prices, when children are 17 years-old, results in roughly 0.9 percent higher annual income for the children of homeowners, and a 1.5 percent lower annual income for the children of renters. House price appreciation at age 17 also leads to higher college enrollment rates at age 19 and an increased likelihood of attendance at higherranked post-secondary institutions for the children of homeowners, as well as lower college enrollment rates for the children of renters.

CBO — Using ESPCs to Finance Federal Investments in Energy-Efficient Equipment

March 30, 2015 Comments off

Using ESPCs to Finance Federal Investments in Energy-Efficient Equipment
Source: Congressional Budget Office

A variety of laws and executive orders require federal agencies to improve the energy efficiency of their facilities and to pursue a range of other energy-related goals. Because the availability of annual appropriations is limited, the Administration encourages federal agencies to use other types of financing—such as energy savings performance contracts (ESPCs)—to fund investments related to energy efficiency.

Under an ESPC, a private party agrees to pay to design, acquire, install, and, in some cases, operate and maintain energy-conservation equipment—such as new windows, lighting, or heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems—in a federal facility. In return, the federal agency agrees to pay for those services and equipment over time, as well as for the vendor’s financing costs, on the basis of anticipated and realized reductions in the agency’s energy costs.

Such contracts are examples of third-party financing, in which vendors privately fund investments for federal agencies. In the case of an ESPC, the vendor is usually an energy service company (a business that focuses on projects and technologies to reduce energy use). Similar arrangements exist, called utility energy service contracts (also known as UESCs), in which the services and equipment are provided by a utility. Although data about the characteristics and results of utility energy service contracts are less readily available than similar data about ESPCs, the discussion of ESPCs in this report generally applies to those other contracts as well.

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