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Current Topic: Home and Garden

Mr. Frangos, Mr. Frangos, Tear Down This House
Topic: Home and Garden 12:25 pm EDT, Oct 15, 2011


No one wants to try to catch a falling knife.

Brady Dennis:

Four years into the housing crisis, the ongoing expense of upkeep and taxes, along with costly code violations and the price of marketing the properties, has saddled banks with a heavy burden. It often has become cheaper to knock down decaying homes no one wants.

[This] grew out of a 2009 state law ... Similar legislation is in the works in Georgia ...

Gus Frangos, president of Cuyahoga County Land Reutilization Corp:

It is the root canal of community development that we're doing, and it's not a quick fix.


Holy shit -- an intelligent, actionable idea!

Sterling Hayden:

To be truly challenging, a voyage, like a life, must rest on a firm foundation of financial unrest. If you are contemplating a voyage and you have the means, abandon the venture until your fortunes change. Only then will you know what the sea is all about.

Mr. Frangos, Mr. Frangos, Tear Down This House

Home Market Takes a Tumble
Topic: Home and Garden 6:27 am EDT, May 10, 2011

Nick Timiraos and Dawn Wotapka:

Home values fell 3% in the first quarter from the previous quarter and 1.1% in March from the previous month, pushed down by an abundance of foreclosed homes on the market, according to data to be released Monday by real-estate website Prices have now fallen for 57 consecutive months, according to Zillow.

Stan Humphries, Zillow's chief economist, now believes prices won't hit bottom before next year and expects they will fall by another 7% to 9%.

While some analysts have argued that home prices need to fall to "clearing prices" that will attract more buyers, price declines could also complicate any recovery by pushing more borrowers under water. Zillow estimates that more than 28% of borrowers owe more than their homes are worth nationally. Those numbers are much higher in hard-hit markets such as Phoenix, where more than two-thirds of borrowers owe more than their homes are worth.


Imagine if they all walked.

John Bird and John Fortune:

They thought that if they had a bigger mortgage they could get a bigger house. They thought if they had a bigger house, they would be happy. It's pathetic. I've got four houses and I'm not happy.


Wow, life is boring.

Home Market Takes a Tumble

The Ghost Cities Of China
Topic: Home and Garden 12:46 pm EST, Dec 20, 2010

Forensic Asia Limited:

There’s city after city full of empty streets and vast government buildings, some in the most inhospitable locations. It is the modern equivalent of building pyramids. With 20 new cities being built every year, we hope to be able to expand our list going forward.

From the archive:

Photoblogging Chernobyl

Universal surveillance is the solution to all urban ills.

Architecture matters a lot, and in subtle ways.

The Ghost Cities Of China

The Ultimate Symbol of Virility
Topic: Home and Garden 7:28 am EDT, Jul  7, 2010

David Pierson:

Mike Zhang considered himself serious boyfriend material.

But Zhang, a 28-year-old language tutor and interpreter, couldn't afford an apartment in the capital's scorching property market.

Rather than waste any more time, his girlfriend of more than two years dumped him.

Homeownership has become the ultimate symbol of virility in today's China.

John Bird and John Fortune:

They thought that if they had a bigger mortgage they could get a bigger house. They thought if they had a bigger house, they would be happy. It's pathetic. I've got four houses and I'm not happy.

Nick Timiraos:

A new report estimates that nearly one in five mortgage defaults through the first half of 2009 were "strategic," where borrowers who appeared to have the capacity to pay their mortgages stopped doing so.

One young fish to another:

What the hell is water?

Ruth Simon And James R. Hagerty:

23% of all mortgage borrowers in the US are underwater.


Imagine if they all walked.

Ma Nuo, bai jin nu:

I would rather cry in a BMW than smile on the back of my boyfriend's bicycle.

American Dream 2: Default, Then Rent
Topic: Home and Garden 7:43 am EST, Dec 14, 2009

Mark Whitehouse:

Giving up on the American dream has its benefits.

Shana Richey:

It was scary. It's still very hush-hush.

Kenneth R. Harney:

Don't feel guilty about it. Don't think you're doing something morally wrong.

Pascal Bruckner:

A revolution comes when what was taboo becomes mainstream.


We're saving lots of money.

Christopher Thornberg:

It's a stealth stimulus.

John Fortune:

It's pathetic.


About half of Palmdale's 147,000 residents endure a daily commute that can extend to two hours or more one way.

Nate Silver:

Perhaps the only good thing about losing your job is that you no longer have to endure the drive to work.

Dan Kildee:

Much of the land will be given back to nature. People will enjoy living near a forest or meadow.

American Dream 2: Default, Then Rent

Why Housing Is Not Coming Back
Topic: Home and Garden 7:00 am EDT, Apr 24, 2009

Charles Hugh Smith:

The financial MSM and government officials alike are looking for a recovery in the housing market to bubble valuations to "restart the economy." That is not going to happen -- not this year, not in five years or even in ten years. Here's why.

Why Housing Is Not Coming Back

The Bottom for Housing Is Probably Not Near
Topic: Home and Garden 7:00 am EDT, Apr 24, 2009

David Leonhardt:

As long as home prices are falling, foreclosures are likely to keep rising and the toxic assets polluting bank balance sheets are likely to stay toxic.

There are reasons, though, to think that prices may be on the verge of stabilizing. Relative to fundamentals, like household incomes and rents, houses nationwide now appear to be overvalued by only about 5 percent. You can make an argument that the end of the housing crash is near.

But that’s not what I found at the auctions.

The infographic is interactive.

The Bottom for Housing Is Probably Not Near

In The Land Of Abandoned Neighborhoods
Topic: Home and Garden 8:40 am EDT, Apr 13, 2009

Kristin Longley:

Property abandonment is getting so bad in Flint that some in government are talking about an extreme measure that was once unthinkable -- shutting down portions of the city, officially abandoning them and cutting off police and fire service.

Temporary Mayor Michael Brown made the off-the-cuff suggestion Friday in response to a question at a Rotary Club of Flint luncheon about the thousands of empty houses in Flint.

Brown said that as more people abandon homes, eating away at the city's tax base and creating more blight, the city might need to examine "shutting down quadrants of the city where we (wouldn't) provide services."

He did not define what that could mean -- bulldozing abandoned areas, simply leaving the vacant homes to rot or some other idea entirely.

From the archive:

The “Gospel Temperance Railroad Map” is an example of an allegorical map. The upper line from Decisionville, the Great Celestial Route, is not without its trials, represented by such station stops as Bearingcross, Abandonment, and Long Suffering; but the final destination, The Celestial City, is clearly more desirable than its counterpart.

Peter Schiff:

Tens of millions of people unemployed, inflation spiraling out of control, the government instituting price controls that result in shortages and blackouts and long lines for things.

I think things are going to get very bad.

Brandi Hitt, reporting from Sacramento:

There are no rules and no regulations. Here, at Tent City, you are on your own.

In The Land Of Abandoned Neighborhoods

How to Save the Suburbs
Topic: Home and Garden 8:04 am EST, Feb 24, 2009

Christopher Leinberger:

It’s not a matter of waiting for two or three years to absorb the overproduction. It’s a matter of drastically reducing real estate prices to well below replacement cost. And when you sell something for below replacement cost – that might sound like, well, “Somebody takes a hit but life goes on as usual.” No, life doesn’t go on. For the owners of that retail or housing space, every dollar that they invest will be money they don’t get back. That is another definition of a slum. There’s no incentive to invest in a slum. So here you are.

Ah, yes:

Lyle Lanley: That's right! Monorail!
[crowd chants `Monorail' softly and rhythmically]
Miss Hoover: I hear those things are awfully loud...
Lyle Lanley: It glides as softly as a cloud.
Apu: Is there a chance the track could bend?
Lyle Lanley: Not on your life, my Hindu friend.
Barney: What about us brain-dead slobs?
Lyle Lanley: You'll all be given cushy jobs.
Abe: Were you sent here by the devil?
Lyle Lanley: No, good sir, I'm on the level.
Wiggum: The ring came off my pudding can.
Lyle Lanley: Take my pen knife, my good man.
I swear it's Springfield's only choice...
Throw up your hands and raise your voice!
All: [singing] Monorail!
Lyle Lanley: What's it called?
All: Monorail!
Lyle Lanley: Once again...
All: Monorail!
Marge: But Main Street's still all cracked and broken...
Bart: Sorry, Mom, the mob has spoken!
All: [singing] Monorail!
[big finish]
Homer: Mono... D'oh!

How to Save the Suburbs

The Ponzi State
Topic: Home and Garden 7:02 am EST, Feb  3, 2009

Packer seeks sunshine, finds cloud. Behind paywall.

Writer visits a number of inland real-estate developments near Tampa, Florida. Developers there dreamed up instant communities, parceled out lots, and built look-alike two-story beige and yellow houses. The houses sold to some of the thousand or so people who moved to Florida every day. Now many are ghost subdivisions.

Have you seen "Revolutionary Road"?

Hopeless emptiness. Now you've said it. Plenty of people are onto the emptiness, but it takes real guts to see the hopelessness.

The Ponzi State

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