Saturday, September 01, 2007

Polk County Condo Complex Has Power Shut Off, Water To Come - News Story - WFTV Orlando
I expect a lot more of this in the near future.

DAVENPORT, Fla. -- Dozens of Polk County families will spend another day in the sweltering heat without electricity, and on top of that could have their water shut off Wednesday. More than 100 residents at the Tropicana Resort condos in Davenport protested outside the front office Tuesday. They said they've paid their rent, but the condo association that runs the complex fell behind on its utility payments by tens of thousands of dollars.
Barclays Capital bails out $1.6bn hedge fund | | Guardian Unlimited Business

Barclays Capital, the high street bank's investment banking arm, has bailed out a $1.6bn (£800m) Cairn Capital hedge fund after it was pushed to the brink of collapse by the global credit squeeze and sub-prime mortgage crisis.

Friday, August 31, 2007

The Pullins Report - Pullins Law Firm Wins Big in Appeals Court
With links to information about the case.
Bush to unveil homeowners' plan - Mortgage Mess -
I see no mention of a bailout for the companies that went bust making these loans. I'm wondering what this package is going to look like and who is going to be making the loans.

WASHINGTON - Offering federal help for strapped mortgage holders, President Bush is proposing to aid hundreds of thousands of borrowers hard hit by the housing slump. The president on Friday was to talk about several initiatives and reforms to help homeowners with risky mortgages keep their homes, a senior administration official said Thursday. Bush also was to discuss efforts to prevent these kinds of problems from arising in the future.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Subprime loans face big hikes - Yahoo! News
New York - Millions of homeowners around the nation are now getting the news in the mail: The interest rate on their home loans is going up, possibly to double-digit levels.
Boom of condo crash loudest in Miami --

Miami, with its unmatched volume and untold number of speculative buyers, is ripe for the hardest fall in the U.S. "Miami is the poster child for the condo bust," said Jack McCabe, CEO of McCabe Research & Consulting, a real-estate market-analysis firm located in Deerfield Beach. "There are probably only two cities in the world with more construction: Shanghai and Dubai. Unfortunately, there is going to be a lot of foreclosures . . ., and developers, lenders, title companies and real-estate companies will go under."

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

JS Online: Severed goat head left at law office
Making her an offer she couldn't refuse, or just negative feedback?
Plano man told to remove solar lights | | Local News: TV
More absurd repression by an HOA:

PLANO - Do homeowners' associations wield too much power? Some North Texans facing fines, liens and even foreclosures for everything from fake flowers to satellite dishes say there's no question about it. Eli Barron didn't ask his homeowners' association for permission to install seven solar lights. He didn't know he had to until he received a letter. The association threatened to fine him $200 a day until he removed the energy-conserving lights.

News: How involved are you with your homeowner's association? | -

This is a poll. The results aren't in yet, but here's a spoiler: the answer is going to be...not very.
In Greenwood, Home Projects Might Need Neighbors' OK - Local News Story - WRTV Indianapolis
So--another example of building associations into the structure of local government.

GREENWOOD, Ind. -- Greenwood's city council is considering an ordinance that would require homeowners to get approval from their neighborhood association before obtaining a city permit for home additions.
Century Village unit criticized for spending $11,000 to alter elevator for Sabbath -- South Florida
Usually stories like this involve an association banning religious displays or some such thing because the practice conflicts with a rule. Here we have an association spending money to accomodate religious practices. Apparently either way they get criticized...

Most of the 56 owners in Berkshire E are Orthodox Jews barred for religious reasons from pushing the buttons on their elevator during the Sabbath, which runs from Friday evening to Saturday evening. They persuaded their board to spend $11,000 to convert the elevator so it automatically stops on each of the four floors during the Sabbath.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

RHE man gets jail time for property fixes
And you thought your HOA was tyrannical? How does six months in jail stack up, courtesy of your friendly neighborhood municipality?

He built a fence, a retaining wall, a patio and a few concrete columns to decorate his driveway, and now Francisco Linares is going to jail for it.
Home Prices: Steepest Drop in 20 Years
As predicted, and even worse.

NEW YORK (AP) -- U.S. home prices fell 3.2 percent in the second quarter, the steepest rate of decline since Standard & Poor's began its nationwide housing index in 1987, the research group said Tuesday.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Home Sales Hit Slowest Pace in 5 Years: Financial News - Yahoo! Finance
The Coloradoan - - Ft. Collins, CO.

Here is a proposal in Ft. Collins, CO, to convert neighborhoods to HOAs, just as economist Robert Nelson has been proposing for years. Thanks to Fred Pilot for the link.

City Council member Wade Troxell wants the city to take a fresh look at code enforcement and has asked staff to study the concept of neighborhood-created homeowners associations. Neighborhoods could be as small as a city block, and people living in an area where a HOA is passed could be forced to join, even against their will, and possibly be asked to pay association fees.
News - Hope on the rise in Phoenix Park -
Fred Pilot sent this update on the municipal takeover of the collapsed Franklin Villa association.
ABC News: Right to Dry? Fight to Hang Clotheslines may be protected by legislatures against HOA prohibitions

Vermont is the latest state to introduce a bill that would override clothesline bans, which are often instituted by community associations loath to air laundry even when it's clean. Now, clothesline restrictions may be headed the way of bans on parking pickup trucks in front of homes, or growing grass too long -- all vestiges of trim and tidy hopes that may not fit with the renewed emphasis on going green.
Embattled Attorney General Resigns - New York Times
It's about time. The pattern of the Bush administration is to keep people on long past the point where any other administration would have dropped them in order to stop the bleeding. I gather this reflects the President's determination to show that nobody can make him do anything. He is, after all, "The Decider." But this is a self-destructive strategy, unless the people and policies being stubbornly supported prove in the end to have been good ones. The result to date is that Bush's job approval rating has been buried at the bottom of a deep crater on one of the frozen moons of Jupiter for a year or so. If he's waiting to be bailed out by the history professors, all I can say is "Don't hold your breath." The judgment of history will not be that George Tenet, Norman Mineta, Donald Rumsfeld, Alberto Gonzales, et al., did a fantastic job that was under-appreciated at the time.
Larry Summers: US could be heading for recession - Telegraph
I hope he is wrong about this, but people have been saying for years that the housing market was keeping the economy rolling.

Former US Treasury Secretary Larry Summers warned that the United States may be heading into recession as the biggest victim to date of the sub-prime mortgage debacle was humiliatingly sold for a token sum in Germany. Traders are braced for another week of turmoil after the near breakdown of America's $2,200bn (£1,100bn) market for commercial paper...Federal Reserve data shows that the outstanding stock of US commercial paper has fallen by $255bn over the last three weeks, a sign that borrowers have been unable to roll over huge amounts of debt. The fall is comparable to the sudden shrinkage that occurred at the onset of the dotcom bust, and may have the effect of draining liquidity.
Flips, scams blamed in California housing decline | Reuters
How one HOA development fell victim to some people who gamed the system. While the gaming was good, at least.

The families believe the investors were not just people flipping houses for a quick profit, but also a group of scammers taking advantage of lax lending rules that permitted 100 percent financing with no money down and minimal documentation. For the Gordons and Taylors, these are the people who ruined the neighborhood by using their homes like revolving night clubs, cramming cars into the cul de sacs and threatening neighbors who complained.

Charlotte Observer | 08/26/2007 | Shalt-nots that shape neighborhoods
I like this lead:

Your neighborhood is more likely to have this pairing than not: rules, enforced by a homeowners association.
The Enquirer - Problem ponds
Here's another issue to keep an eye on. Cities make developers deal with potential drainage issues at the time of initial construction, and if the developer has enough open space they do it by building detention ponds, which is cheaper than building more sewer capacity. These ponds turn into an expensive nuisance if not maintained, and guess who gets the responsibility and the bill? The HOA, of course. Like the man says, the bottom line is money, and solving a problem with a detention pond can run into seven figures.

But what happens when the retention pond doesn't function properly? Who's to blame when the ponds leak or sediment builds up? And who fixes the problem when algae blooms begin to stink? Homeowners in several local communities have learned the hard way that getting answers to such questions can take years - and can cost a lot of money...If the developer has enough open space, building a retention pond that controls the flow into existing storm sewers is cheaper than installing bigger storm sewers. "The bottom line is money," said Petty.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Drop Foreseen in Median Price of U.S. Homes - New York Times
Here is a milestone nobody wants to see. This is mainly the result of the overpricing that occurred during the housing bubble, but I can't help thinking that on some level the market is reflecting the fact that, apart from the investment expectations and the tax advantages, home ownership isn't worth as much as it once was. With today's new CID housing, you just don't get the dominion and control that was once considered a major part of the package. For example, if it comes to deciding whether or not to buy a condo unit, and the value isn't increasing, many people would just as soon rent. Home ownership can be a huge hassle, and the costs can offset the tax advantages. I know some people with substantial assets who have rented their entire lives, including at least one famous law professor. In some big cities it isn't all that unusual a thing to do.
Federal Reserve allows Citigroup to elude key banking rule - Aug. 24, 2007
From CNN Money:

In a clear sign that the credit crunch is still affecting the nation's largest financial institutions, the Federal Reserve agreed this week to bend key banking regulations to help out Citigroup (Charts, Fortune 500) and Bank of America (Charts, Fortune 500), according to documents posted Friday on the Fed's web site. The Aug. 20 letters from the Fed to Citigroup and Bank of America state that the Fed, which regulates large parts of the U.S. financial system, has agreed to exempt both banks from rules that effectively limit the amount of lending that their federally-insured banks can do with their brokerage affiliates...The Fed says that it made the exemption in the public interest, because it allows Citibank to get liquidity to the brokerage in "the most rapid and cost-effective manner possible." So, how serious is this rule-bending? Very. One of the central tenets of banking regulation is that banks with federally insured deposits should never be over-exposed to brokerage subsidiaries; indeed, for decades financial institutions were legally required to keep the two units completely separate. This move by the Fed eats away at the principle. Sure, the temporary nature of the move makes it look slightly less serious, but the Fed didn't give a date in the letter for when this exemption will end. In addition, the sheer size of the potential lending capacity at Citigroup and Bank of America - $25 billion each - is a cause for unease.
Homeowners may face liens from city:
After homeowners association disbanded, city forced to mow common areas, out $1,600 - Clarksville, TN

This is the kind of thing I am expecting to see a lot more of in the years to come.

Homeowner associations, when working smoothly, can be the perfect tool to keep neighbors' yards mowed and chain-link fences at bay. One Clarksville neighborhood, however, is demonstrating what happens when those associations fall apart. In short, things get complicated...Riggins said the city's policy regarding inactive homeowner associations, which allows it to place liens on individual property owners when communal properties are no longer maintained, is a standard practice in other cities.
Chapelwood residents debating pros and cons of homeowners association - Dothan, Alabama
Nice that the city set up a forum for the owners to make up their own minds about this. The normal route is the developer bundles a mandatory association with the choice to buy the home. Then you have to listen to all this nonsense about how "you voluntarily joined the association," as if you had signed up to be a member of the Moose Lodge or something.

They can be the bane of a homeowner’s existence or a protective force against obnoxious house colors and unsightly yard art.