U.S. homeownership rate plummets to five-decade low

Despite legislators and bureaucrats best efforts, the homeownership rate continues to slide.

Since the Great Depression, presidential administrations with a cooperative Congress implemented policies intended to maximize the homeownership rate. At the end of World War II, the returning…

Lifted from Comments: Scott corrects my History

He writes:

I think there may be a bit of anachronism here although I am not entirely sure. Bryan ran for president in ’96, ’00 and ’08 with national debut “Cross of Gold” speech catapulting him into prominence in 1896 much as Humphrey, Reagan, and Obama would later be sent into orbit (Reagan literally) by their national debuts. The Scopes trial was in 1925, and Bryan had started to vehemently attack Darwinism after WWI. He had spoken out against it earlier as well, but after his initial run.Bryan was not a young earth creationist and not really one in the modern sense. And it was not really uncommon to reject Darwinism at the turn of the century. Indeed, most scientists did. They didn’t reject evolution, but they did reject Darwinism, primarily because a workable theory of heredity was lacking. This was rectified from 1900-1918 from the rediscovery of Mendel to Fisher’s crucial paper integrating Mendelism and Darwinism. But it really should be emphasized that many major scientists rejected Darwinism before 1900. Now they probably rejected it for different reasons from Bryan, but the Darwinian mechanism of evolution certainly wasn’t a settled fact at the time. Did Bryan have contempt for the evidence at the time that he ran (which is when you could have voted for him)? Very unclear. How far was he willing to integrate evidence into his biblical worldview? I don’t really know, but at least one historian (Ronald Numbers) claims that he was willing to accept a geologically old earth and read 7 days figuratively.So while it is true that at the end of his life (or a few days before the end) he rejected Darwinism because he was very worried that the mechanism of natural selection (espcially as seen through the light of Social Darwinism) led to the moral decay he saw in WWI, he may not have held that view 3 decades before and certainly the science wasn’t settled at that time.

Of course, current politicians have no such excuses.

An analysis of the Indian luxury real estate market

Gone are the days when people compromised on residential facilities and amenities. These days, everyone wishes to have a gym or swimming pool on their residential premises. Convenience is no longer an option. It has become a compulsion to homeowners. Thankfully, the Indian real estate market has evolved from being a market obsessive about a home with a location to a new and vibrant concept of branded homes. Luxury housing concept refers to houses that are approximately 2000 sq. feet in area as the starting size of apartments. It goes onto much larger sizes depending on the category of luxury housing that the project is looking at offering. At this moment, potential buyers are checking out luxury villas for sale in Bangalore, Hyderabad, and Chennai. Today, luxury homes are the fastest growing segment of residential housing. Studies reveal that to cater to this growth in demand, India would require 1.5 million luxury homes over the next 15 years.

  • How has globalization contributed to the development of luxury real estate?

In the last decade, rapid globalization has paved the way for employment opportunities. Due to this, income earned on the executive level is significantly high. Individuals from this segment are exposed to world-class amenities, are well-read, well-traveled, and thus, have an idea of what they want as a reflection of their taste and lifestyle. It has acted as a catalyst and paved the way for real estate developers to earn high-incentives while simultaneously catering to the housing needs of the uber wealthy of the city. These are the ones who are happy to pay for a luxurious property that would be an indicator of their social and financial standing.

Indian real estate market has witnessed a surge in the sale of properties due to an emerging concept of owning more than one luxury property by the upper segments of society. Investment in premium properties further diversifies the assets of an individual and is primarily motivated by a variety of reasons that range towards a passionate inclination or even investment purposes.

  • Factors that draw potential buyers towards luxurious segment

There are multiple factors that a customer keeps in mind before investing in luxurious properties. Apartments and villas in Devanahalli, Bangalore, and other locations of South India are widely in demand. The location is stated to be the prime factor. Outstanding infrastructure, the status of people living in the vicinity, trouble-free access to nearby locations, etc. play a crucial role. Properties that are situated near golf courses, beaches, mountain tops are all time favorite developments. Research indicates that top locations in luxury segments in India are like ones that have an inclination towards environment-friendly projects. A vast number of individuals are demanding homes that would have less impact or no impact on the Eco-system. Green Homes make use of Eco-friendly/recycled materials for construction, use of solar energy and bio-gas plants, have more windows to allow natural light. These are some features that are considered while making a purchase.

  • What is the future of luxury residential real estate in India?

Major steps are being taken towards the creation of intelligent living spaces. The use of high-tech built-in features that allow you to lock-unlock doors, air-conditioners, turn on the lights, etc., with a click of your phone, high-speed elevators and security systems such as limited access cards always makes a mark. Builders are even collaborating with international designers and brands to create a statement. Currently, the luxury real estate market is going through a slowdown due to an oversupply situation. NRIs are skeptical about the investment in this sector due to global economic downturn.

Ultimately, a smart buyer knows that it would make sense to use, this time, as the property prices are at an all-time-low, and would rise in the long run.

This is a guest post by Deepak Yewle

Subprimate Woes Affecting the More Well Evolved

The problems of subprime loans and the “subprimates” who shackled themselves to them are now

. Loans for more than $417,000 are scarce and what is still available is very expensive.

How many buyers and sellers will be affected in Marin? We’ve already heard of a number of cases so far (for example). Who would have imagined that? But they must be an anomaly or something because we all know how everyone in Marin is filthy rich, right? So Marinites and wannabe Marinites should have no problem whatsoever making the $600,000 down payment (our laughable $1 mill median minus what would be needed to get a loan for something at or below the $417K cutoff) needed to get a loan for about $417K or less. Right? I mean Marin housing is “immune” and a “sure thing” so it’s not like that $600K down payment is at risk. Right?

(AP) The subprime mortgage crisis is spreading to a somewhat unexpected place: homes costing more than $500,000.

As lending has rapidly gotten more restrictive for borrowers taking out large loans, sales of expensive homes have fallen sharply around the country during what should be one of the busiest seasons for buyers and sellers…

To some degree the change is due to difficulty getting financing, as borrowers are finding fewer lenders willing or able to fund “jumbo” mortgages, loans for amounts greater than $417,000. Such loans are too big to be guaranteed by government-sponsored housing finance agencies Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac or Ginnie Mae.

The banks that are still making jumbo loans are charging substantially higher rates to compensate for the lack of investor demand. Borrowers who could have gotten rates as low as 6.5 percent in June are now having to pay as much as 9 percent.

But aside from the financial impact of higher rates, in certain high-priced real estate markets, the effect of the suddenly tighter lending environment is more psychological, mortgage bankers and real estate agents say, as buyers and sellers alike don’t want to plunge into an uncertain future.

“I think the psychological damage is worse than the financial damage” which is already bad enough, he said. Even for buyers who have plenty of cash or can easily afford higher mortgage rates, the sudden change in the financing environment reduces “the ardor to buy a house unless you have to,” he adds.

With numerous buyers and sellers sidelined, the higher cost of big mortgages is bound to put downward pressure on home prices should the lending environment stay tight for a long period of time, said Ellen Bitton, president of Park Avenue Mortgage, a mortgage bank and brokerage…

In and around San Francisco, where the median home price is about $1.1 million, the tougher financing environment has created a “hesitancy and has led to some canceled escrows for buyers around the $1 million range, said Rick Turley, president of the San Francisco and Peninsula Region for Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage.

Is Coastal California housing looking frothy?

House prices are high in Coastal California causing sales to wane and many to question whether or not we pushed prices up too high.

In previous real estate cycles, when house prices began to rise, people became excited about participating in the real estate market, and the buying activity would…

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I like both Mark Thoma and Megan McArdle’s blogs very much, and recently both have posted on the issue of elitism. And I feel the need to chime in (and perhaps ramble on).

First, I am sure that my statement that I would not vote for a creationist comes across as elitist. But the fact is that when someone identifies herself as a creationist, she is revealing something to me about her decision process–that she makes decisions based on faith, rather than evidence. I am uncomfortable with this, and have reason to think that decisions based on evidence tend to turn our better than those based on faith, or or one’s gut. It is true that sometimes there is not all the evidence that one would like to make a decision, and then one must take a leap, but evidence first strikes me as a good rule. The Red Sox won World Series after they started listening to Bill James (who explicitly rejects baseball mythology when it conflicts with data).

Second, I grew up in what was then red state America–a town of 50,000 in Western Wisconsin. The benefits were real–I came to appreciate hunting and especially fishing, and I could ride my bike anywhere at any age in safety. But the town was homogeneous in a way that was stifling–when I was growing up, my guess is that there were maybe 50 African-Americans and 50 Jewish people in the whole town. The town, moreover, did not at the time welcome those who were different, and I remember at 17 being engaged in a debate with fellow Democrats (!) about whether it was appropriate to use government funds to support a battered women’s shelter. I am happy to say that the place has since changed considerably: it is far more heterogeneous and far more welcoming than it was when I was growing up there. Nevertheless, even though I liked my family (by that I mean I liked hanging out with my parents and brother), and even thought I had three close buddies who were staying in Wisconsin, I took as many classes as I could in high school to get out of town as soon as possible, and left for college after my junior year. My “lack of respect” for the place I grew up arose from the fact that its values were different from mine. Is this elitist? Perhaps.

So college was the ultimate elitist experience: the fanciest of fancy-pants Ivy League Schools. Intellectually, the place was at times truly thrilling: I still can remember specific sentences from lectures on Shakespeare, on moral reasoning, on international relations, on Japanese-US relations, on Public Finance (where Malcolm Gillis made me realize that I wanted to be an economist). It also was the place where I met my wife, one of the most remarkable people I have ever known, and for that I will always be grateful.

But for all that, it could be truly insufferable and provincial. Harry Lewis inadvertently underscored this phenomenon when he wrote in Excellence without a Soul, “if I hadn’t been able to teach at a place like Harvard, I would have gone into the computer industry.” So whatare students who don’t go to “places like Harvard,” chopped liver?

So when Harvard disdains the heartland, and when the heartland disdains Harvard, they both have some basis for doing so. Interestingly, both places have trouble dealing with the “other,” but my sense is that both places are getting better at doing so.

FWIW, among the Universities where before this year I spent time (Harvard, Wisconsin, George Washington and Penn), my favorite by far has been Wisconsin (although after a month at USC, I think it likely that it will match Wisconsin–and the weather is a lot nicer here. The sushi is better here too–oops, that’s elitist!). Wisconsin is also an intellectually thrilling place–it doesn’t have as many superstars as Harvard, but it has plenty, and it was a treat to hear lectures from and talk with Harold Scheub, Dave Demets, Stanley Kutler, Arthur Goldberger and Buz Brock, among others. At the same time, because the students were predominantly Midwesterners, and generally quite good, there was little if any disdain for the heartland. Indeed, one of the striking things about the atmosphere in Madison is how modest very accomplished people there tend to be. It is almost is if Berkeley were crossed with Lake Wobegon.

Finally, I need to say something about the South (I have lived on both coasts and the Midwest, but never the South). Anyone who stereotypes Southerners as dumb should be ashamed. In the first place, such generalizations are always wrong, and in the second place, the region has produced Faulkner, Tennessee Williams, Martin Luther King, Thomas Jefferson, etc. and has many great universities, such as Chapel Hill, UVA, Duke, etc.

But two facts remain about the South that are truly problematic. The states with the lowest high school graduation rates in the country are in the South. This is not because the South is rural–the states with the best high school graduation rates are in the Midwest, and are generally rural. And if people are looking for respect, waving the Confederate flag is not the best way to do it. Southerners who do so will argue that they are celebrating a heritage, but it is a heritage in which a large group of people were deemed subhuman. African-Americans rightly feel disrespected when they see that flag, and people who want to wave that flag should understand that.

Just because one might not like NASCAR, or country-western music, or, heaven forbid, football doesn’t mean he needs to look down on it. But that flag is something else.

The boom that never materialized: boomerang homebuyers

Very few recent mortgage originations were from borrowers with a previous foreclosure. Less than 25% ever return to homeownership.

It’s human nature to find hope when times are bleak. When housing crashed, bankers and underwater loanowners clung to any hope of recovery that would bail…

5 Reasons Why India is One of the Top Realty Hotspots in Asia

There is a big change in the way people think about property nowadays. Previously one used to buy property for accommodation for themselves. But now, people buy property as a lifetime investment. If you are interested in investing a part of your income in real estate, you have to choose the property very carefully. Thankfully, finding real estate is never too hard as India is constantly expanding in the realty industry.

Presently, India is booming in real estate zone, especially in its metropolitan cities. In 2016, if you want to buy property in Mumbai or Bengaluru, it would be a wise investment. Followed by these cities are properties in Delhi, Chennai, and Pune. A recent survey stated that 35% of expats staying in the UAE wanted to buy property in Mumbai.

  • The Attractive Government Policies

The Government of India has come up with some liberalization measures in the past few months which has increased foreign investors’ interest in real estate market in India. The Indian Property Show held this December from 11th -13th at the Dubai World Trade Center revealed Bengaluru as one of the favorite areas for NRI investment because of it’s growth in many fields simultaneously in the last few years.

This goes to show that the Government of India has paid serious attention in bringing in foreign investment through real estate. The minimum built-up area in case of foreign direct investment (FDI) was 50,000 sq. ft. which is now reduced to 20,000 sq. ft. Though the economic structure of the country shows dis-balance at times, the property investment has not been affected by this.

Presently there lies a huge opportunity of investment in upcoming and happening cities like Mumbai and Bengaluru. Mumbai stands as the first choice of real estate investment due to the immense business options and opportunities. Mumbai is facing problems with the scarcity of free land for further construction. So, Navi Mumbai and other cities are coming up in the periphery of the city of Mumbai. In the last one decade Bengaluru has developed massively in the technology industry, becoming the best hot spot for the IT sector in the country. The availability of skilled labor and capital-backed start-ups are also a prime reason for the city’s growth.

  • Free Lands Readily Available

If you are planning to invest in real estate, India is an attractive destination. It is the right time to invest in a property in Bengaluru as it’s the information technology hub which in today’s world will provide jobs to millions. So, people will need places to live a smart life with lots of modern amenities. A large number of properties are available in the city and most of them are purely for investment purpose which offer good returns opportunities in the future. It is said that Bengaluru is the third largest real estate investment city for High Net worth Individuals (HNIs) and one of the cities right for Non Resident Indians (NRIs) to settle if they want to come back to India in the future to settle.
‘Emerging Trends in Real Estate Asia Pacific 2014’ was a survey published jointly by the Urban Land Institute (ULI) and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), which stated that Indian cities are in the list of top 25 real estate investment spots of the Asia Pacific region. A survey was made where about 22,300 NRIs participated all over the UAE. These are a few striking facts that revealed themselves after the survey.

The main reason of purchase of property in India remains for personal use, which is about 54.42% of the population. Now, 45.57% of people want to possess a property for investment only. More than 65% of NRIs are looking for financial institutions to help them invest in property. 68.75% of the NRIs are willing to invest in real estate properties within six months. 17.49% of the NRI investors are looking for properties at an affordable range of 5 to 25 lakhs, whereas 51.35% are willing to spend money in the mid segment of 26 to 75 lakhs, 31% are ready to invest in properties ranging from 76 lakhs and above.

NRIs are most interested in residential apartments, which is 79.33%. Then are the villas and the commercial properties are their last choice.

As is evident, India’s real estate market has all the makings for an investment hotspot in Asia, and the rest of the world. If you’re looking to buy a buy a house in India, visit commonfloor.com for a breezy property buying experience.

This is a guest post by Naresh G

Gregg Easterbrook has a good piece on college sports this week

It begins:

Charlie Weis and Bobby Bowden had to go — Notre Dame and Florida State weren’t winning every game! Get rid of the bums! All we heard from sports commentators, and from alums and boosters, was get rid of the bums, we gotta win, win, win. Sorry to interject, but why? Why does Notre Dame or Florida State or any university need to win every game? Is it now official that big colleges care more about sports than education?

If an NFL team, which is strictly a commercial enterprise in the business of providing entertainment, doesn’t win, get rid of the bums. But a university exists to educate; winning football games is a secondary concern. Don’t get me wrong. I attend way too many college football games, and I always like it when the school I’m rooting for wins. But I am not so misguided as to think that a college’s winning games means more than a college’s educating students, including athletes. Why is this distinction practically absent from sports commentary?….

I was harsh with him last week, so when I think his work is good…