Saturday, November 10, 2007

Increases in new house prices slow down: "The housing-starts report showed that 79 per cent of all new Vancouver housing starts to the end of October - 13,325 of 16,787 - were multi-family condominium or townhouse projects."

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Fla. Companies Forbidding Smoking In Private Lives - Orlando News Story - WKMG Orlando
What next? Can't ride a motorcyle? I wonder what limits there can be to privatized tyranny. After all, you agreed to this "voluntarily" by accepting the contract of employment. Say...what does that remind me of?
School board to ignore state moment-of-silence law --
Of course they are ignoring it. Everybody knows it is impossible to get students to be silent for a minute. I'd be satisfied if I could start the class with a second of silence, let alone a whole moment.
57% - Declining Confidence in Political Wisdom of Americans - Yahoo! News
So it has finally come to this: the majority of Americans now has no confidence in the political wisdom of the majority of Americans. Maybe they would prefer having a benevolent dictator to devoting more time and energy to educating themselves about politics and government.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Newswire / Press Release: Hilton is Subject of Book Project Revealing the Other Side of Hotel-condo Ownership - Books/Publishing/Newspapers | NewswireToday

Sounds interesting:

Condo*monium tells true stories of the tumultuous life in a multi-use condominium complex, including condo hotels, and urges the reader to heed the caveat emptor warning as part of a search for a condo home of one’s dreams or a rewarding investment which also serves as a vacation retreat. The author, Dr. Heinz Dinter, explains the purpose of the book: “Someone’s first-hand experience is always a useful guide and the book’s intent is to be such a guide. It’s for your peace of mind.” As a condo dweller, Dr. Dinter shared his research with fellow condo dwellers in newsletters and other writings, uncovered the successor developer’s ironclad ever-lasting control over the unit owners and money-exacting abuses, and as a result suffered the ire of those he exposed for their wrongdoings.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Bankruptcy Reform Bites Back
The irony here is that Congress passed this law at the behest of lenders who didn't want consumers to get out of their credit card debts through bankruptcy. But the result, given the collapse of housing prices, is that people are defaulting on their mortgages, which is clobbering a different set of lenders.

Score one for the law of unintended consequences. In past periods of economic turbulence, American households were able to escape mountains of bad debt—and keep their homes—by declaring bankruptcy. During the weak growth years from 2001 to 2003, for example, nonbusiness bankruptcy petitions averaged roughly 1.5 million per year. Lenders complained bitterly that bankruptcy was too easy, but because financially stressed Americans could write off their credit card and other consumer debt, they had more money available to pay their mortgages. But today's growing problem in the housing market is different—foreclosures are soaring, while bankruptcies, though clearly on the upswing, are running roughly at half the 2001-2003 pace. The reason: A new bankruptcy law, approved by Congress in 2005 after years of debate, makes it much harder for households to get out from under their consumer debt. The result: More people being forced to walk away from their homes, leaving lenders holding the bag. > News > Metro -- Homeowners associations hit by foreclosure fallout
No surprise here. If you can't pay the mortgage, certainly you can't pay the HOA. Put the whole picture together and it isn't pretty: mortgage defaults and foreclosures; builder bankruptcies that leave HOAs and owners stuck with no reserves and a pile of mechanics leins; HOAs needing to specially assess owners for major repairs (see below); lenders going out business; and municipalities faced with increasing demands and lacking the funds to meet them. Where will all this lead?

San Diego County's mushrooming number of foreclosures is starting to hobble homeowners associations large and small as cash-strapped owners cease paying their monthly dues.
Massive assessments for upgrading the buildings' systems have divided resident's of Boston's prestigious Harbor Towers - The Boston Globe
This is the kind of thing you hate to be right about. For years now, Ive been predicting a tsunami of massive special assessments as aging developments need major overhauls of private infrastructure. Now here is a real whopper. Thanks to Fred Pilot for the link.

It's the condo owners' nightmare: The building's heating and cooling system needs an overhaul, so everybody must pay a huge one-time assessment. But the 500-plus owners at Harbor Towers on Boston's waterfront are facing the mother of all bills: from $70,000 to over $400,000. And they're due by the end of this month. In full.