Trulia’s ‘Heat Map’ Is A Fascinating Look Into Urban America’s Real Estate Market

[Originally published by Forbes]

 

There’s a very precise formula for how major U.S. metro areas can make their housing markets “hot”; simply commit to jobs and population growth, then artificially restrain the housing supply. This has been the price inflation calculus in New York and San Francisco. But even within these and other desirable metros, the price variation across the geographic landscape is so disperse as to seem random–and counters the stereotypes about where consumers actually want to locate.

This is evident when looking at the “Heat Maps” on Trulia.com….[read the rest at Forbes]… Read more

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Dallas-Fort Worth Shows America’s Evolving Multi-Family Housing Market

[Originally published by Forbes]

 

This March, I wrote here about the three major U.S. metros that have stood above the rest for housing permits: Houston, Dallas and New York City. Between 2010 and 2016, each of these three metros have approved 273,000 units or greater, while Los Angeles was a distant 4th at 160,000. Perhaps more notably is that many of their units have been multi-family apartments. While that isn’t surprising for New York City, it may defy stereotypes about the underlying built pattern of the two great Texas metros.… Read more

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The Federal Housing Administration Encourages Sprawl Over Density

[Originally published by Market Urbanism]

 

While some may argue that America is an inherently suburban nation, full of citizens who prefer their own homes and yards, they forget that for decades the federal government has favored such sprawl. And no agency has been more complicit in this than the Federal Housing Administration.

In 1934, amid a lagging housing market, the FHA was formed to insure long-term mortgages that required little money down. Over this time, it has favored single-family housing over condos, and the bias prevails today. According to its website, the agency has “insured over 34 million home mortgages and 47,205 multifamily project mortgages since 1934.… Read more

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Fisher Island: An Exclusive Paradise 3 Miles From Miami

[Originally published by Forbes]

 

Fisher Island, FL

The South Florida area has many wealthy people, and a lot of them aren’t afraid to show it, whether that means riding large yachts or driving luxury cars whose exhaust pipes wake up the neighborhood. But there is one such enclave that is largely unknown, even to those living in the metro area. It is Fisher Island, an oasis of tropical landscaping and Mediterranean architecture just 3 miles from the shores of Miami…[read the rest at Forbes]… Read more

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Who Are America’s Progressive Developers?

[Originally published by Market Urbanism]

 

Miami, FL

1. I delved into finance this week for Forbes, writing articles about how Chicago’s junk-bond rating is already causing higher borrowing costs; and about how Dodd-Frank, 5 years after passage, is killing community banks.

2. Starting in a few weeks, and continuing for as long as I’m on the road, I will occasionally add to a new Market Urbanism series called “America’s Progressive Developers.” This will profile different developers who have either built, or are planning to build, interesting projects that enliven their city.… Read more

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Philadelphia To Seize 1,330 Properties For Public Redevelopment

[Originally published by Forbes]

 

Along with other ideas that have lost appeal in America, one is the notion that powerful government agencies should master-plan large swaths of cities. While such agencies still play roles in specific redevelopments, they seldom imitate the social engineering found, say, during post-War II “urban renewal.” But this has not stopped the Philadelphia Housing Authority from pursuing a mass eminent domain scheme that will revisit these past mistakes.

On June 18th, city council voted overwhelmingly to allow the Philadelphia Housing Authority to redevelop Sharswood, a blighted neighborhood north of downtown…  [read the rest at Forbes]… Read more

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How Miami Fought Gentrification And Won (For Now)

[Originally printed in Governing Magazine]

 

Miami, FL

Can growing cities avoid gentrification simply by building skyscrapers? Harvard economist Edward Glaeser thinks so. In his 2012 book Triumph of the City, he famously argues that in order to address housing shortages, cities need to build up. If they don’t, he warns, wealthy people who would buy high-rise units will instead buy older housing and displace longtime residents and businesses.

Glaeser’s theory has mostly gone untested as the nation’s most gentrifying cities — such as New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.… Read more

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Will San Francisco’s Creative Class Leave For Portland?

[Originally published by Forbes]

 

Several summers ago, while living in San Francisco, I would attend a weekly writer’s group that mirrored the ones likely found during the city’s artistic heyday. It was a bunch of unknowns who would gather in a room downtown to read their works aloud, and then await the avalanche of criticism from other participants. I remember one particularly quirky guy (he wrote sci-fi novels featuring graphic sex scenes between aliens) who told me one night that he liked my article on the city’s expensive housing market.… Read more

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Inclusionary Zoning Is Rent Control 2.0

[Originally published by Forbes]

 

Despite prevailing in a few cities, rent control policies have declined across America, for reasons I mentioned in a previous post. They have been found—perhaps counterintuitively—to increase housing costs, by taking units off the market, encouraging abandonment by landlords, and preventing construction. While several cities still enforce rent control for older units, they don’t on newly-built ones, since even public officials now recognize the downsides. But this doesn’t mean that housing price controls have vanished. Instead, a supposedly more market-oriented solution has arisen to replace rent control, with results that are often just as bad.… Read more

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FHA Policies Discourage Density

[Originally printed in Governing Magazine]

 

After decades of suburban flight, the city is king again. Economists view it as essential for sparking innovation and growth. Environmentalists consider it key to getting people out of their automobiles. And urbanites, many of whom suffered through decades of decline in their cities, view it as a symbol of long-anticipated revitalization.

But a key part of cities — their density — hasn’t always been encouraged by the government, particularly not at the federal level. In fact, many of today’s land use policies hail from the post-World War II era, when planners thought that decentralizing cities would generate middle-class prosperity.… Read more

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