Monday, September 22, 2008
Friday, September 19, 2008
WASHINGTON — It was a room full of people who rarely hold their tongues. But as the Fed chairman, Ben S. Bernanke, laid out the potentially devastating ramifications of the financial crisis before congressional leaders on Thursday night, there was a stunned silence at first.
Mr. Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. had made an urgent and unusual evening visit to Capitol Hill, and they were gathered around a conference table in the offices of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
“When you listened to him describe it you gulped," said Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York.
As Senator Christopher J. Dodd, Democrat of Connecticut and chairman of the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, put it Friday morning on the ABC program “Good Morning America,” the congressional leaders were told “that we’re literally maybe days away from a complete meltdown of our financial system, with all the implications here at home and globally.”
Wow. And after that, “How did we get here?” If you can get by the instinct to question motives, political and otherwise, this describes a situation that would be about as bad as it could get. The fact that both Republicans and Democrats can agree on its severity probably dispenses with the question of motive, but I guess we will all wonder whom we were really bailing out.
But, again, how did this happen? We wrote a piece a few months ago about the sub-prime mortgage debacle that we thought was moderately humorous. “Who Are the Brains Behind the Housing Crisis” Basically, we were asking how all of this Ivy League brainpower on wall street could screw something up so badly.
But this isn't funny...
Please click the title link above to read the rest of this article
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
For these reasons, independent experts are a necessary and valued part of the resolution of construction defect claims. Experts are professionals whose credentials qualify them to analyze the cause of a particular type of construction or design problem, design a solution, and assign responsibility for it. The qualifications needed are determined by the nature of the problem and the component, but in the construction defect arena experts are predominantly architects and engineers...
To read the rest of this article click on the title link above...
Friday, September 12, 2008
In a couple of our prior posts (Back to the Housing Future, The End of Suburbs) we have predicted a return of housing to the inner city core where owners can be adjacent to transit and services as well as jobs. That trend is continuing and now The National Association of Home Builders, those responsible for 3/4 of all homes built in northern California, are opening a new office in San Francisco for builders specializing in mid-rise, transit oriented structures. This new housing is aimed at "The Millennials" or "Gen Y" according to a recent article in the Contra Costa Times. It's also aimed at "the other huge group, folks over 55 who have sold the single family home when the kids moved out who live in denser condo or townhouse developments and don't want to move to Tracy and don't want a big house anymore." The NAHB points to a recent study indicating that there is a potential of 1.5 million units of infill housing in California alone in the next 20 years. Density requires multi-family housing, of course, and that usually means condominiums, so we are likely going to see a lot of new common interest developments in the inner city in the next few years.
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
However, if you listen to all of the speeches, read all of the political flyers, hear all of the endorsements, you will still hear nary a word about common interest developments, homes for millions of Americans. "Who cares?" you say, "Elections are about important national and state issues, not about something as mundane as my homeowners association." That's probably true at the national level where the debate about our country's future rages over problems that are often close to insoluble. But what about at the state and local levels? What about the candidates for city council, the state legislature, or governor?
At the state level, housing and real estate law and land use should carry a great deal of weight with politicians, and common interest developments are all about those issues. Where should we build new ones? How do we make them green? How do we govern those that already exist? How do we make them affordable? What do we do with the projects that have reached the end of their useful lives? These are issues which can and will have an enormous impact on any state's housing stock, its economy, and its future...