Bo McCarver’s weekly news compilation – 6/15/2010

Tuesday Report, June 15, 2010
Special to the Texas Low Income Housing Information Services

The bright blip in housing sales caused by the federal tax credit has an equally low dip in June. Homebuilders have anticipated the lagging sales and cut back on construction starts. The market continues to ebb and flow with the extended recession.

In California, cheap properties have motivated some of the affluent to purchase and raze adjacent homes to create dry-land moats.

For a pdf version of the full articles, plus contextual stories about social, environmental and legal areas, contact Bo McCarver at

Home sales silver lining: immigrants set to drive up demand
Homes sales have taken a beating in this recession. But the growth of the immigrant community should result in more home buyers, according to a Harvard study.
By Mark Trumbull Christian Science Monitor        June 14, 2010

Here’s one bright spot in the housing market: Demographic trends suggest that the US will have many new home buyers in the coming decade.
That’s one core conclusion of a report released Monday by Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies.
In the next 10 years, “household growth should match the 12.5 million” level seen during the decade from 1995 through 2005, according to the report which the research center issues once a year. That should be the case even if immigration runs at a relatively slow pace.
A key reason: Immigrants and their native-born children who are already in the US are filling out the ranks of the “baby bust” and “echo boomer” generations, so that each of those groups will now rival the baby boom generation in size.
Full story at:
June homebuilder sentiment falls post-tax credit
Reuters       June 15, 2010

Home-builder sentiment fell in June by the sharpest amount since the height of the financial crisis as the expiration of a popular homebuyer tax credit dimmed prospective sales, the National Association of Home Builders said on Tuesday.
The NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market index dropped 5 points to 17, the sharpest point decline since November 2008, the group said in a statement. The sharper-than-expected decline followed two successive increases as the tax credit ran its course.
Economists polled by Reuters had expected the index to fall slightly to 21. A reading below 50 indicates more builders view sales conditions as poor than good. The index has not been above 50 since April 2006.
“Builders still remain very cautious and are aware that several factors could impede the nascent housing recovery, including serious problems in obtaining financing for the production of housing, faulty appraisal practices and competition from short sales and foreclosed properties,” said David Crowe, NAHB chief economist.
All three subindexes of the Housing Market Index, including a measure of future homebuilding activity, saw declines in June.
The current sales conditions gauge fell six points to 17, the sharpest drop since August 2006 and the lowest level since March. The sales expectations measure for the next six months fell four points to 23, the lowest level since March 2009.
The traffic of prospective buyers index fell two points to 14.
[End of story:]

Case-Shiller predicts Dallas-Fort Worth home prices will fall slightly for the year
By Steve Brown       Dallas Morning News       June 14, 2010

Dallas-area home prices – buoyed in recent months by a resurgence of buyers – are now expected to fall slightly this year, according to a new forecast.
So far in 2010, home prices in North Texas have risen almost 4 percent from a year ago. During the same period, sales of pre-owned homes have increased almost 12 percent.
But with homebuyer tax credits running out and foreclosures continuing, researchers at analysts Case-Shiller and Fiserv are cautioning about a double dip in nationwide residential prices.
“The first-time homebuyer tax credit has expired, the Federal Reserve has stopped buying residential mortgage-backed securities and the projected number of foreclosures remains extremely high,” Fiserv chief economist David Stiff said in the report. “As a result, markets with recent price increases may see small price declines before prices finally stabilize at the end of this year or early 2011.”
In the Dallas area, home prices are forecast to fall 1.8 percent this year from 2009 levels, the analysts predict.

Wealthy homeowners seeking privacy are increasingly buying adjacent properties

Compounds are the hottest commodity in L.A.’s high-end real estate market, brokers say.
By Lauren Beale        Los Angeles Times        June 12, 2010

In the Middle Ages, moats were the thing. More recently, the rich have taken refuge behind tall hedges, view-obscuring walls and guarded gates.

But today’s super-wealthy, seeking even greater privacy, are increasingly buying adjacent properties as a buffer zone around their mansions. And that’s made the compound the hottest commodity on L.A.’s high-end market, real estate brokers say.

On the Westside, the growing list of compound owners includes movie industry titan Terry Semel, financier and producer Tom Gores and corporate housing kingpin Howard Ruby, founder of Oakwood Worldwide.
Full story at:

North Richland Hills dispute invokes environment, property rights
By Chris Vaughn       Fort Worth Star-Telegram       June 9, 2010

NORTH RICHLAND HILLS — Steve Morrow’s acreage, in the heart of Northeast Tarrant County, is home to bobcats, snakes, poison ivy, wild blackberries and a section of Little Bear Creek.
North Richland Hills, where the creek meanders on its way south and east to the West Fork of the Trinity River, has received praise for protecting the creek from unchecked development and for promoting good flood management.
But Morrow, surveying the creek flowing through his property and the bulldozers grading new roads nearby, can only scoff at what he believes are undeserved accolades.
Morrow contends that the city is ignoring its own Little Bear Creek ordinance in favor of more development near its banks, allowing clear-cutting of mature trees and turning the waterway into a clogged and polluted mess through the greenbelt on his property.
Full story at:

Dallas officials craft compromise plan for regulating neighborhood farmers markets
By Steve Thompson        Dallas Morning News       June 15, 2010

After months of struggling to come up with a system to regulate neighborhood markets, Dallas officials presented a compromise Monday that may finally make both the City Council and market participants happy.
“I think it’s a good solution,” said council member Delia Jasso at a meeting of the council’s transportation and environment committee. She’s been working closely with city staff and market organizers to hash out the plan.
Farmers markets offering fresh produce and home-baked goods popped up across the city last summer. But the fate of such markets has been in question since September, when city inspectors closed a popular Saturday-morning market because it lacked a temporary food permit.
A plan presented by city staff in April prompted various concerns, including that only a fine line separates a farmers market from a flea market. But the most contentious issue was proposed vendor fees.
Full story at:

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