Thursday, May 15, 2008

Reflections on recent posts
If you look over the recent posts here, you can see that the situation facing homeowners is troubling on a number of fronts.
1. Credit is tight, property values are weak, and it is harder than at any time in the recent past to borrow money or sell--at least, for a lot of people.
2. Owners who are in financial trouble with their homes aren't paying assessments, and neither are the banks when they foreclose. That means associations are hurting financially. That in turn means the solvent owners have to pay for those who are not paying.
3. And the falling property values are reducing municipal tax revenues, which is hitting municipalities and of course school districts and other units of local government.
4. The tax resistance of the average voter has to be at an all-time high. That means voters who have to approve tax increases (due to tax cap legislation in many states) will not want to bail out local governments through tax increases.
5. But we are in an election year where the Democrats figure to win big across the board, due to Bush having thoroughly discredited the Republican party. It looks like there will be gains for the Democrats in the House and Senate and in many state legislatures, and the presidential race currently favors the Democrats (although that could change quickly). The Dems in Congress, and of course Obama, have a host of costly programs in mind that will require substantial federal tax increases. Increasing taxes in the middle of an economic slowdown is bad medicine, but the voters have nothing to say about it after Election Day. If the Dems want to do it, that's that.
6. The cost of college education is going up, up, and up. So is the cost of health care. And I could go on. But pay is not going up, up, and up.

What does this all add up to? I realize the economy will turn around at some point, but the next three or four years or so should be interesting to say the least.

I think we are going to see increased conflict over taxing and spending at the local government level. I think the solvency of CIDs is going to become an issue (I have been predicting this for a long time, but now it is on the horizon). And I expect all sorts of demands for state and federal assistance for public and private local governments. But my guess is that the home-owning middle class is going to be expected to solve its own problems for the most part. As a member of that group, I'm not entirely happy with that conclusion, so please show me where I'm wrong.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Associated Press: U. of Okla. freshman, 19, elected mayor of Muskogee

The Associated Press: U. of Okla. freshman, 19, elected mayor of Muskogee: "MUSKOGEE, Okla. (AP) — A 19-year-old freshman at the University of Oklahoma was elected mayor Tuesday of Muskogee, a city of 38,000 in the northeastern part of the state. With all precincts reporting, John Tyler Hammons won with 70 percent of the vote over former Mayor Hershel Ray McBride, said Muskogee County Election Board Secretary Bill Bull."
"I'm proud to be the Mayor of Muskogee,
A place where little kids can have their say.
We all ride our skateboards down at the courthouse,
And chug Red Bull while we listen to Green Day."

--with apologies to Merle Haggard

Foreclosures filing set record in April, RealtyTrac says - May. 14, 2008

Foreclosures filing set record in April, RealtyTrac says - May. 14, 2008: "NEW YORK ( -- U.S. foreclosure filings reached a record high in April, rising almost 65% over the previous year and putting municipalities at risk by cutting into the value of taxed property, according to a study released Wednesday."
The ripples continue to spread. Foreclosures are hurting CIDs and now municipalities, along with mortgage companies.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

As Dues Dry Up, The Neighbors Pay -

As Dues Dry Up, The Neighbors Pay - "Here's another consequence of the troubled housing market: Some homeowners associations are running low on cash."
The problem is that for quite some time before people default on their mortgages and get foreclosed on, they stop paying assessments. After foreclosure banks usually don't pay the association either.
Nice to see the Wall Street Journal taking note of this problem that I have been writing about for quite a while now. The people who hate associations may think this is great, but it will hit owners. Why? Because of owner A doesn't pay, owners B-Z have to pay instead. That applies all the way up to association bankruptcy, appointment of a receiver, to infinity, and beyond.