This is probably my favorite link list yet…enjoy!
1. The WSJ claims that delinquent homeowners can expect to stay in their homes after making their last mortgage payment – that is, they can live rent-free – for at least 16 months. The longer it takes for foreclosures to happen, the longer it will take for real estate markets to adjust to the new paradigm.
Chimed in Joyce: “We all know that Houston is not a walking city, as much as we wish it was. But there are two areas that are walkable – downtown and the Medical Center. The use of propane trucks is prohibited downtown, however. The regulation was originally put in place as a part of Homeland Security after 9/11, but the Houston Fire Department continues to enforce it. That’s an example of something we’re looking to work with, to allow food trucks to operate in these higher foot traffic areas.”
The article also confirms my suspicion that food trucks may actually be safer than restaurants: “These are essentially open kitchens…you can look in there and see exactly what these guys are doing, where they’re grabbing the food from, how they’re cooking it.”
3. Hong Kong and Singapore are both instituting controls on their residential property markets to avoid bubbles, but they are also freeing government land for developers (in spite of Singapore’s free market reputation, most residents apparently live in public housing). Some speculate that Hong Kong’s controls might be a sign of increasing control from Beijing. Reuters says that “China, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Malaysia have also unveiled more stringent regulations in recent months” – the bubble that led to the 1997 financial crisis had a large property component. The Beijing Communist Party mouthpiece, apparently fearing that investors have too much faith in the local government, blames the city’s high rents on prostitutes.
4. Cap’n Transit on road subsidies. These sorts of debates often frustrate me because I feel like people are not clear as to which roads they’re talking about (federal, state, local?).
5. Al Gore admits that first-generation ethanol was a mistake and he only supported it because of “a certain fondness for the farmers in the state of Iowa” (yes, he really said that). But talk is cheap – he’s still sticking by non-food biofuels, though I think those’re just as bad. On the bright side, though, DeMint and Tom Coburn are apparently ready to let some key ethanol subsidies lapse this year.
6. DC developer forced to offer below-market rents to an IHOP. You know what would really help “small, local, minority-owned businesses”? Eliminating mandates like this that lead to constrained property markets and sky-high rents.
7. Remember that god-awful North Jersey mall project Xanadu, whose demise prompted an item in the last link list? Well apparently Chris Christie wants to throw more money down that hole. Speaking of which: Did they really not realize the negative associations people have with the name “Xanadu”? Or is that just evidence that not even the person who named it had any faith in it?
8. Real estate investors are bidding up prices for apartment buildings, says the NYT. Hopefully the increase in prices will convince local officials to zone for more multifamily development.