January 23, 2014

A 13-Year Lost Decade

The Times Argus reports from Vermont. “At their most recent meeting this week, the Montpelier Planning Commission took up a familiar issue: affordable housing. Polly Nichols, a member of the city’s housing task force and housing director for the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, said that more than a third of homeowners and renters in the city pay more than 30 percent of their income, and that many even pay more than 50 percent of their income toward housing. In terms of the age of residents, Nichols said more than half of Montpelier’s homeowners and fewer than 15 percent of renters are older than 55.”

“‘I think it tells us that Montpelier is not very affordable, either for renters or homeowners, and that the situation is getting worse,’ Nichols said. She added that the percentage of people living in Montpelier who are between 30 and 39 years old — a prime age for buying a home, she said — decreased by more than 15 percent between 2000 and 2010. ‘We’re losing our younger population, perhaps in part because they can’t afford to buy homes here,’ she said.”

The Nashua Telegraph in New Hampshire. “Housing sales are up even if housing construction isn’t, and many other sectors, such as finance and services, are blooming. It seems the Great Recession is pretty much over in New Hampshire. OK, then – where are all the new jobs? For that matter, where are all the new people?”

“‘This is the first economic recovery in my memory – and my memory goes back to the early 1970s – that’s not accompanied by a significant increase in population moving into the state,’ said economist Dennis Delay during a Greater Nashua Chamber of Commerce luncheon panel about the economic picture. ‘This change in demographic growth has fundamental implications for New Hampshire going forward.’”

“Charles Arlinghaus, president of The Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy, called the period since 2000 ‘a 13-year lost decade’ for New Hampshire job growth.”

The Brookline Tab in Massachusetts. “Massachusetts must significantly boost its housing supply to attract the younger workers needed to increase its labor force and help drive economic growth in the next decades, according to a Metropolitan Area Planning Council report. ‘More than a million of the region’s workers will be retired by the year 2030,’ Marc Draisen, the council’s executive director, said in a statement. ‘To fill those jobs and grow the economy we need to reverse the trends that see so many young workers leaving Metro Boston.’”

“The report says the number of school-age children in the region peaked in 2000, and is likely to decline in the coming decades. It warns that without an effort to increase housing production, one of the state’s biggest assets — a skilled and educated workforce — is in jeopardy.”

The Queens Chronicle in New York. “As we enter 2014, Queens, the most diverse area in the country, is experiencing something of a real estate boom. Eric Benaim, CEO of Modern Spaces: Long Island City, has also seen a hyperactive winter and believes that the market shows no signs of letting up. ‘Because the Manhattan market is out of control right now, the average person can’t afford anything there, so people come to Long Island City,’ he said.”

“Foreclosures have been common in neighborhoods like Jamaica, and their future isn’t as bright as other sections of Queens. ‘In places like Jamaica and Rosedale, they are pretty much stuck in the short sale and foreclosure market right now,’ said Laura Copersino, president-elect of the Long Island Board of Realtors. ‘Homeowners owe more to the bank than what their house is worth. It’s been like that for years now.’”

AM New York. “Dozens of New York foreclosure victims took to their phones Sunday in a massive phone conference to demand that the governor rethink his plans for the $613 million settlement awarded to the state attorney general’s office following its lawsuit against JPMorgan Chase. One Queens Village caller, who didn’t give his full name, said he couldn’t fathom why the state just didn’t go forward with its plans and fight foreclosure. ‘This was supposed to be our victory,’ he said.”

The New York Daily News. “‘As someone who has fought with Chase to modify my loan for three years, I find it disgusting that the money Chase was forced to pay as a punishment for their reckless behavior would be taken and used to fund tax cuts for the rich. This is supposed to help homeowners who were devastated by these toxic mortgages, and that’s how it should be used,’ said Jean Sassine, homeowner from Queens, New York.”

The Courant in Connecticut. “Connecticut is among 10 states throughout the country in 2013 that had an annual increase in the total number of residential properties facing foreclosure, up 20 percent to 20,141, compared with 2012, according to RealtyTrac. Jeffrey Gentes, a foreclosure attorney at the Connecticut Fair Housing Center in Hartford, said that he hasn’t seen a major improvement in the state’s foreclosure troubles. Slow job growth in Connecticut — resulting in long-term employment — is partly to blame for the state’s foreclosure woes, Gentes said.”

“‘We’re still seeing a lot of people having a lot of trouble,’ Gentes said. ‘Even if they get back on their feet or get a job, they still need help because they are behind in their payments.’”

The Daily Times in Delaware. “‘Price is what’s motivating buyers,’ said T.J. Redefer, owner of Rehoboth Bay Realty in Dewey Beach. ‘And the fear that interest rates might creep up. It’s still a buyer’s market.’”

“Redefer also said he sees more buyers from the New York and New Jersey region showing interest in Delaware. Barrows argues that demographic has long been a staple for Delaware real estate agents, but recent changes in those states’ market has helped Delaware. ‘Those folks couldn’t sell their homes in New York and New Jersey,’ she said. ‘Now they can sell their primary home and move here. That’s released part of that market to become real buyers.’”

“Kathy Lougheed, owner of Burton Realty Inc. in Millsboro, said 2013 was a steady year with gradual growth, but foreclosures still controlled much of the market. ‘When they go to closing, they become the comparable that appraisers use for the other sales,’ she said. ‘So it’s preventing the market from seeing increased values.’”

“Lougheed specializes in the back bay area of Sussex, including Angola and Millsboro, where she said several homeowners have lost single family homes or town houses. Though some houses are primary residences, many property owners are losing their investment or vacation homes. ‘Some investors bought them back when the market was strong and they can’t refinance, their only option is to short sell,’ she said.”

Bits Bucket for January 23, 2014

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