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Proximity to Coast Is Linked to Climate Change Belief

July 23, 2014 Comments off

Proximity to Coast Is Linked to Climate Change Belief
Source: PLoS ONE

Psychologists have examined the many psychological barriers to both climate change belief and concern. One barrier is the belief that climate change is too uncertain, and likely to happen in distant places and times, to people unlike oneself. Related to this perceived psychological distance of climate change, studies have shown that direct experience of the effects of climate change increases climate change concern. The present study examined the relationship between physical proximity to the coastline and climate change belief, as proximity may be related to experiencing or anticipating the effects of climate change such as sea-level rise. We show, in a national probability sample of 5,815 New Zealanders, that people living in closer proximity to the shoreline expressed greater belief that climate change is real and greater support for government regulation of carbon emissions. This proximity effect held when adjusting for height above sea level and regional poverty. The model also included individual differences in respondents’ sex, age, education, political orientation, and wealth. The results indicate that physical place plays a role in the psychological acceptance of climate change, perhaps because the effects of climate change become more concrete and local.

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Do Coastal Building Codes Make Stronger Houses?

July 22, 2014 Comments off

Do Coastal Building Codes Make Stronger Houses? (PDF)
Source: Cato Institute

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which provides federal flood insurance to property owners in participating communities, is currently $24 billion in debt. The shortfall has long been foreseen by policymakers because the insurance is underpriced, effectively subsidizing property owners of coastal properties. Congress attempted to curtail that subsidy with the 2012 Biggert–Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act, which was intended to put the burden of flood risk squarely on property owners rather than taxpayers. However, beneficiaries of the subsidies rallied against the legislation, and earlier this year both houses of Congress passed, and President Obama signed, legislation delaying the 2012 subsidy reform.

Communities that participate in the NFIP must adopt the program’s building code, which incorporates minimum building standards set forth by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Economists have theorized that building codes associated with the provision of subsidized insurance may create moral hazard by inducing risk taking. That is, the acquisition of insurance against some contingency is associated with a decreased incentive to avoid or prevent the insured loss because policyholders do not bear the full consequences of their actions. Independent of any insurance provision, moral hazard can also result from a false perception of safety if building codes are not effective.

This article examines the effectiveness of the NFIP’s building code in reducing damages to barrier island property in a hurricane. We determine whether similarly located properties fare better or worse in a hurricane based on the code regime under which they were constructed. We use data from Lee County, Fla., where 2004’s Hurricane Charley made landfall. Our findings raise questions about the optimal scale of code design, and about unintended consequences from building code changes.

Evaluating the Effect of Smart Growth Policies on Travel Demand

July 21, 2014 Comments off

Evaluating the Effect of Smart Growth Policies on Travel Demand
Source: Transportation Research Board

TRB’s second Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP 2) has released a project brief that provides transportation planning agencies with improved tools and methods to accurately and comprehensively integrate transportation investment decision making with land development and growth management.

In Post-Recession Era, Young Adults Drive Continuing Rise in Multi-Generational Living

July 17, 2014 Comments off

In Post-Recession Era, Young Adults Drive Continuing Rise in Multi-Generational Living
Source: Pew Research Social & Demographic Trends

A record 57 million Americans, or 18.1% of the population of the United States, lived in multi-generational family households in 2012, double the number who lived in such households in 1980.

After three decades of steady but measured growth, the arrangement of having multiple generations together under one roof spiked during the Great Recession of 2007-2009 and has kept on growing in the post-recession period, albeit at a slower pace, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data.

Young adults ages 25 to 34 have been a major component of the growth in the population living with multiple generations since 1980—and especially since 2010. By 2012, roughly one-in-four of these young adults (23.6%) lived in multi-generational households, up from 18.7% in 2007 and 11% in 1980.

Global Real Estate Tra​nspare​ncy Index 2014

July 17, 2014 Comments off

Global Real Estate Tra​nspare​ncy Index 2014
Source: Jones Lang LaSalle

JLL’s eighth Global Real Estate Transparency Index , covering 102 markets worldwide, shows continued progress in the transparency of commercial real estate around the world. Over 80% of markets have registered improvement since 2012. The top improvers in each survey generally correlate with a surge in foreign direct investment and corporate occupier activity, as investors help to accelerate transparency reforms and governments realise that poor transparency will affect continued inward investment, long-term growth prospects and the quality of life of citizens.​​​​​​​

CRS — Low-Income Assistance Programs: Trends in Federal Spending

July 16, 2014 Comments off

Low-Income Assistance Programs: Trends in Federal Spending (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via University of North Texas Digital Library)

This report examines the spending trends of 10 major need-tested benefit programs or groups of programs: (1) health care from Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP); (2) the refundable portion of the health insurance tax credit enacted in the 2010 health care reform law; (3) the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP); (4) assisted housing; (5) financial assistance for post-secondary students (Pell Grants); (6) compensatory education grants to school districts; (7) the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC); (8) the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC); (9) Supplemental Security Income (SSI); and (10) Family Support Payments. The common feature of need-tested programs is that they provide benefits, services, or funding based on a measure of limited financial resources (income and sometimes assets). However, other than that common feature, the programs differ considerably in their target populations, services, and focus.

2014 CoreLogic Storm Surge Analysis Identifies More Than 6.5 Million US Homes with Total Reconstruction Value of Nearly 1.5 Trillion Dollars at Risk of Hurricane Storm Surge Damage

July 14, 2014 Comments off

2014 CoreLogic Storm Surge Analysis Identifies More Than 6.5 Million US Homes with Total Reconstruction Value of Nearly 1.5 Trillion Dollars at Risk of Hurricane Storm Surge Damage
Source: CoreLogic

CoreLogic® (NYSE: CLGX), a leading global property information, analytics and data-enabled services provider, today released its 2014 storm surge analysis featuring estimates on both the number and reconstruction value of single-family homes exposed to hurricane-driven storm surge risk within the United States. According to the findings, more than 6.5 million homes along the U.S. Atlantic and Gulf coasts are at risk of storm surge inundation, representing nearly $1.5 trillion in total potential reconstruction costs. More than $986 billion of that risk is concentrated within 15 major metro areas. This exposure could constitute significant risk for homeowners and financial services companies, as many at-risk homes lack protection from insurance coverage.

The analysis examined homes along the coastlines of 19 states and the District of Columbia in the Gulf and Atlantic regions, extending as far west as Texas and as far north as Maine. Florida ranks number one for the highest number of homes at risk of storm surge damage, with nearly 2.5 million homes at various risk levels and $490 billion in total potential exposure to damage. At the local level, the New York metropolitan area, which encompasses northern New Jersey and Long Island as well, contains not only the highest number of homes at risk for potential storm surge damage (687,412), but also the highest total reconstruction value of homes exposed, at more than $251 billion.

Free registration required to download report.

Does Planning Regulation Protect Independent Retailers?

July 8, 2014 Comments off

Does Planning Regulation Protect Independent Retailers? (PDF)
Source: Harvard Business School Working Papers

Regulations aimed at curbing the entry of large retail stores have been introduced in many countries to protect independent retailers. Analyzing a planning reform launched in the United Kingdom in the 1990s, I show that independent retailers were actually harmed by the creation of entry barriers against large stores. Instead of simply reducing the number of new large stores entering a market, the entry barriers created the incentive for large retail chains to invest in smaller and more centrally located formats, which competed more directly with independents and accelerated their decline. Overall, these findings suggest that restricting the entry of large stores does not necessarily lead to a world with fewer stores, but one with different stores, with uncertain competitive effects on independent retailers.

See: Banning Big-box Stores Can Hurt Local Businesses

The State of the Nation’s Housing 2014

July 7, 2014 Comments off

The State of the Nation’s Housing 2014
Source: Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University
From press release:

The U.S. housing recovery should regain its footing, but also faces a number of challenges, concludes The State of the Nation’s Housing report released today by the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University. Tight credit, still elevated unemployment, and mounting student loan debt among young Americans are moderating growth and keeping millennials and other first-time homebuyers out of the market.

Although the housing industry saw notable increases in construction, home prices, and sales in 2013, household growth has yet to fully recover from the effects of the recession. Young Americans, saddled with higher-than-ever student loan debt and falling incomes, continue to live with their parents. Indeed, some 2.1 million more adults in their 20s lived with their parents last year, and student loan balances increased by $114 billion.

Still, given the sheer volume of young adults coming of age, the number of households in their 30s should increase by 2.7 million over the coming decade, which should boost demand for new housing.

2014 Global Life Sciences Cluster Report

July 3, 2014 Comments off

2014 Global Life Sciences Cluster Report
Source: Jones Lang LaSalle

Notable shifts and surges in industry activity have been the recent norm for Life Sciences. Big players have made moves to become more nimble, while small to medium sized companies have made steady headway into the marketplace. Learn more about the ever-changing landscape, trends in real estate that are helping to support these changes, and what global regions are leading the way in the Life Sciences industry.

Free registration required to access full report.

Bursting the Bubble: The Challenges of Working and Living in the National Capital Region

June 25, 2014 Comments off

Bursting the Bubble: The Challenges of Working and Living in the National Capital Region (PDF)
Source: The Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis, The DC Fiscal Policy Institute, and The Maryland Center on Economic Policy

Living in the national capital region looks like it has its advantages. Employment levels are back to where they were before the recession. The unemployment rate is far lower than that of the country as a whole. Incomes are high, especially for highly educated workers. From outside this bubble, things look pretty good.

However, the bubble obscures a troubling story for many residents of the region.

Income inequality is growing. Employment levels for people without a college education are far lower than before the recession. Unemployment rates for several groups of workers, including those without a college degree, remain high. Black workers and young workers were particularly hard hit by the recession, even when compared to other area residents with similar education levels. The high cost of living in the region is pushing many families to spend more than they can afford on housing, while others trade more affordable housing for long and expensive commutes.

The region has many successes worth celebrating. But broadly shared prosperity is not one of them. The region’s policymakers need to address the challenges facing those who are struggling to keep their foothold in the economy. This includes ensuring all workers in the region have the skills and credentials needed by employers for current and future jobs, taking steps to make sure all working adults have enough income to support their families, and ensuring availability of affordable housing options with access to good jobs.

REALTORS® in the American Workforce, by State

June 20, 2014 Comments off

REALTORS® in the American Workforce, by State
Source: National Association of REALTORS®

The interactive map below allows you to look at the share of REALTOR® members by state and, by using the slider in the top left corner of the map, through time.

What stands out in the map, regardless of the year’s data that you look at, is that there is geographic variation in the ratio of REALTOR® members to employed persons by state. If you take a look at this variation over time, you find that there is also some consistency in the shares by state.

Hawaii is a perennial leader, coming in with the highest share of REALTOR® members per employed persons in 19 of 34 years. Arizona is a close second, coming in with the highest ratio in 15 of 34 years. These two states are the only two to rank number one in this metric from 1980 through 2013. In that time, the highest share of REALTOR® members per employed persons ranged from 0.9 to 2.3 percent.

By contrast, the state with the lowest share of REALTOR® members per employed persons has been more variable. In the 34 years observed, Mississippi, Maine, West Virginia, South Dakota, and North Dakota have all rotated in and out of this position. In every year, the state with the lowest share of REALTOR® members per employed persons has ranged between 0.2 and 0.4 percent.

DHS OIG — FEMA Could Realize Millions in Savings by Strengthening Policies and Internal Controls Over Grant Funding for Permanently Relocated Damaged Facilities

June 14, 2014 Comments off

FEMA Could Realize Millions in Savings by Strengthening Policies and Internal Controls Over Grant Funding for Permanently Relocated Damaged Facilities (PDF)
Source: U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General
From Spotlight (PDF):

FEMA could realize millions of dollars in cost savings by strengthening its policies, procedures, and internal controls over Public Assistance grant funding provided for permanently relocated damaged facilities. FEMA’s present policies and procedures do not effectively address how FEMA should use program income to offset permanently relocated facility costs. For example, such a revised policy could have saved an estimated $17.8 million in project costs. Also, internal controls were not in place to determine when applicants received program income to offset permanently relocated facility costs.

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility: Macroprudential Tools at Work in Canada

June 9, 2014 Comments off

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility: Macroprudential Tools at Work in Canada
Source: International Monetary Fund

The goal of this paper is to assess the effectiveness of the policy measures taken by Canadian authorities to address the housing boom. We find that the the last three rounds of macroprudential policies implemented since 2010 were associated with lower mortgage credit growth and house price growth. The international experience suggests that—in addition to tighter loan-to-value limits and shorter amortization periods—lower caps on the debt-to-income ratio and higher risk weights could be effective if the housing boom were to reignite. Over the medium term, the authorities could consider structural measures to further improve the soundness of housing finance.

Rooftop Solar Adoption in Emerging Residential Markets

June 6, 2014 Comments off

Rooftop Solar Adoption in Emerging Residential Markets
Source: Center for American Progress

Solar energy has become a tangible solution to rising electricity costs and carbon emissions for many Americans. Declining installation prices and solar-friendly policies in many states have led to tremendous growth in rooftop solar installations. In 2013, residential solar photovoltaic, or PV, capacity increased 60 percent over the previous year, reaching 792 megawatts. Today, a new solar power system is installed every four minutes in the United States.

The rooftop solar phenomenon took off in states such as California, Arizona, and New Jersey—the three largest U.S. solar markets—and has been spreading, albeit at a slower pace, to other states. Maryland, Massachusetts, and New York, for example, are developing strong residential solar markets, but the number of residential installations in each state is less than half of the total residential installations in Arizona and New Jersey and less than 10 percent of the total residential installations in California.

Last year, the Center for American Progress released an issue brief titled “Solar Power to the People: The Rise of Rooftop Solar Among the Middle Class,” which found that rooftop solar systems were being overwhelmingly adopted in middle-class neighborhoods with median incomes ranging from $40,000 to $90,000 in Arizona, California, and New Jersey. This issue brief explores the income make-up of rooftop solar adopters in the developing markets of Maryland, Massachusetts, and New York.

CRS — Federal Building and Facility Security: Frequently Asked Questions

June 5, 2014 Comments off

Federal Building and Facility Security: Frequently Asked Questions (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

The security of federal government buildings and facilities affects not only the daily operations of the federal government but also the health, well-being, and safety of federal employees and the public. Federal building and facility security is decentralized and disparate in approach, as numerous federal entities are involved and some buildings or facilities are occupied by multiple federal agencies. The federal government is tasked with securing over 446,000 buildings or facilities daily.

The September 2001 terrorist attacks, the September 2013 Washington Navy Yard shootings, and the April 2014 Fort Hood shootings have refocused the federal government’s attention on building security activities. There has been an increase in the security operations at federal facilities and more intense scrutiny of how the federal government secures and protects federal facilities, employees, and the visiting public.

This renewed attention has generated a number of frequently asked questions. This report answers several common questions regarding federal building and facility security, including
• What is federal facility security?
• Who is responsible for federal facility security?
• Is there a national standard for federal facility security?
• What are the types of threats to federal facilities, employees, and the visiting public?
• How is threat information communicated among federal facility security stakeholders?
• What are the potential congressional issues associated with federal facility security?

Easier Commutes and Cheaper Housing are Increasing as Main Reasons for Moving, Census Bureau Reports

June 5, 2014 Comments off

Easier Commutes and Cheaper Housing are Increasing as Main Reasons for Moving, Census Bureau Reports
Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Among the 36 million people 1 year and over who moved between 2012 and 2013, 5 percent said the most important reason for moving was to be closer to work or for an easier commute, while another 8 percent cited the desire for cheaper housing, according to a report released today by the U.S. Census Bureau. The most common reasons for moving in 2013 were “wanted new or better home/apartment,” “other housing reason” and “other family reason.”

The report, Reason for Moving: 2012 to 2013, presents an in-depth look at 19 reasons why people changed residences during the previous year and is the Census Bureau’s first on this topic since 2001.

2013 Characteristics of New Housing

June 4, 2014 Comments off

2013 Characteristics of New Housing
Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Using data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Construction, this report provides annual statistics on the characteristics of new privately owned residential structures in the four U.S. regions. The report includes characteristics such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the type of exterior wall material, the buyer’s source of financing and the structure’s square footage.

This year’s release includes an interactive graphic with a pictorial representation of the single-family characteristics.

New From the GAO

June 3, 2014 Comments off

New GAO Report
Source: Government Accountability Office

VA Real Property: Action Needed to Improve the Leasing of Outpatient Clinics. GAO-14-300, April 30.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-300
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/662867.pdf

Foreclosure Defense: A Beginner’s Guide

June 2, 2014 Comments off

Foreclosure Defense: A Beginner’s Guide
Source: Law Library of Congress

The loss of a home to foreclosure can be devastating financially and emotionally. In this guide, we hope to provide you with resources that can aid you in researching a defense to a foreclosure action. Please keep in mind that foreclosure defense is a complicated area of the law, and you are strongly advised to seek the advice of an attorney, including your local Legal Aid Society, if at all possible.

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