Interesting visualization of the shifting population center of the United States. The national mean center of population based on 2010 Census data lies in an incorporated village in Texas County, near Plato MO.
If you are in the market for a new home in the Katy area with an oversize lot to accommodate a swimming pool, this Village DaVinci at 6215 Mustang Trail Lane might be your ticket. The original buyer busted out on this home in Cross Creek Ranch, and Village Builders is ready to move it. It's a 4 bedroom, 3.5 bath home with a game room and media room. The back yard is huge and will easily accommodate a swimming pool and more. With incentives, this Village DaVinci is priced at $389,807! That's only $90 per square foot. That's a price you'll be hard-pressed to find anywhere in Cinco Ranch.
Buyers take note! Area Realtors may be advertising this home at $399,807, but that is NOT the real price of the home. Any Realtor who's advertising this home at $399,807 is attempting to pocket a BTSA of $10,000 on this home offered by the builder. In Layman's terms, that's called an adverse compensation structure and a conflict of interest!
Texas has some of the best housing markets in the country. That's no secret. While many areas in the U.S., particularly the sand states, have seen home prices plummet during the past few years, cities like Houston and Midland have seen home prices move upward. While home prices in Detroit are 52% less than they were a decade ago, the Bayou city and the Permian Basin have seen a recent growth in demand for housing.
Bloomberg economist Edward Glaeser attempts a data-mining exercise to explain why some housing markets have fared better than others. Being a Harvard economics professor, you'd think Glaeser would have a better grasp on macroeconomic trends affecting housing. After weighing factors such as weather, education and technology, Glaeser seems to overlook the elephant in the room. I grew up in the Permian Basin, and I've now spent 15 years in Houston. I can tell you with a fair degree of certainty that any economist or professor who doesn't grasp the relationship between Texas housing markets and oil needs to polish their research skills.
Supply and demand are the ultimate driver of housing markets. Both Houston and Midland have benefited from a quick rebound in oil and gas exploration and energy prices in general. Most real estate markets in Texas were already experiencing lower than average home inventory levels, so the recent strength in the energy sector has only served to boost demand for housing in two of Texas' top-performing real estate markets.
Trulia's crime maps have been around for over a year. The company recently expanded coverage of crime mapping in U.S. counties, showing crime density to make it easier to see areas with the most crimes. Now there's also a feature to view the ratio of violent-to-nonviolent crimes with local crime heat maps. Crimes such as shootings and assaults would be considered "violent" whereas vandalism and theft would be considered "nonviolent.
These snapshots of the Houston and Katy area show some startling differences. It's apparently a lot safer in the suburbs, than in most of central Houston. That's not a huge surprise for those familiar with the area. Southwest Houston, in particular, is a notable hot spot for criminal activity. Areas just to the north and south of downtown Houston are also hot with violent criminal activity.
Regarding Katy, it's not surprising to see little violent crime around the City of Katy. Areas inside the city limits of Katy are patrolled by City of Katy police. You don't have to travel far in Katy proper before seeing a City of Katy patrol officer. That highly visible presence stands in contrast to the Fort Bend County Sheriff's charged with policing a larger area South of I-10.
HAR MLS data showed that leases accounted for 35% of Houston area residential real estate transactions last year. That translated to roughly 34,000 leases for 2011. Activity of singly family leases is higher still in 2012, with January 2012 figures up 15% compared to January 2011. Lease activity accouted for 32% of Cinco Ranch transactions last year, and a whopping 51% of transactions in the Katy area for 2011. There were 2231 lease transactions closed in Katy last year withing the boundaries of Katy ISD, compared to 4354 sales transactions.
The data is not surprising considering the current state of the mortgage market. Lenders are still being very stringent with underwriting standards. Anyone who's tried to refinance lately can attest to that. While purchasing a home still makes sense for many people these days, the single family lease market should remain active for years to come.
The decision to rent or buy a home is often difficult, and there are a number of factors to consider. The availability of inventory is often a big part of the decision-making process. You can view my recent post on renting vs. buying in Cinco Ranch for more information about costs here in Katy,TX.
Vancouver's overpriced real estate is no secret. Here Mike Shedlock takes a look at the nosebleed prices of Vancouver B.C. vs. Donegal Ireland. A cursory glance at listings in East Vancouver will turn up beauties such as this listing on East 3rd Ave for $899,500.
Bank of America, the poster child of bailout moral hazards, is apparently looking for more ways to boost sagging revenues by experimenting with new feesto "Essentials" accounts, as well as other monthly charges. The move follows a failed attempt by Bofa to hike fees on consumer debit cards.
While Bank of America wasn't able to institute across-the-board fee hikes for debit cards, they did manage to create a back-door fee structure on debit cards in South Carolina. Bofa has apparently struck a deal with the state where tax returns will be issued on a prepaid debit card. The Bank of America debit cards come with a host of charges to access the funds.
"Last week, the Charleston Post & Courier’s David Slade wrote a column about South Carolina’s new practice of issuing tax returns in the form of prepaid debit cards from Bank of America. The state Department of Revenue announced the program back in December, but conveniently left off the long list of feeswhich customers without BofA accounts will be subject to.
For every withdrawal from a non-Bank of America ATM, BofA will take $2.50 off the top — in addition to any fees the ATM owner might charge. Want to get your money directly from the bank? The first time’s free, but every withdrawal after that comes with a $10 fee. Leaving the country? Bank of America takes 2% of every single transaction you make outside the United States. Had enough and want to close your account? No problem — after a $5.00 closure fee, of course.
As Slade puts it, why should you have to pay to access your own money? “They’re not even nickel and diming people, they’re five-dollaring and 10-dollaring people,” commented consumer advocate Sue Berkowitz, Director of the Appleseed Legal Justice Center."
Considering recent developments with the national mortgage settlement, Bofa's legalized theft of funds in South Carolina is not all that surprising. What's surprising is why anyone, particularly a government agency, would do business with Bank of America at all.
Move-in-ready Village construction with hardwoods in main areas. Great home for family with small children. Features a spacious master with separate sitting area, as well as formal dining, formal living, gameroom and three additional bedrooms. Study can also serve as a 5th bedroom. Nearby exemplary schools and great Cinco Ranch amenities. Quiet, cul-de-sac street and no rear neighbors.
If you think the Federal Reserve is finished bailing out Europe (and pretty much the entire global economy) on your dime, I have some bad news for you...The money printers are just warming up!
Gordon Long explains why the rescue plan in Europe is a complete train wreck. Those low interest dollar swaps a few weeks ago were just a precursor of things to come. European banks don't want to lend to each other because trust seems to be fading. I guess they don't believe in the quality of the assets on their books.
"There are approximately $55T of banking assets in the EU. This compares to only $13T in the US. Bank Assets in the EU are 4 times as large as the US.
In the US, debt held by the bank is smaller because retail deposits are a primary source of funds. EU banks use wholesale lending and, as a consequence, the debt held by banks is closer to 80% versus less than 20% by US banks.
Wholesale bank lending in the EU approximates $30T versus only $3T in the US, a 10 X differential.
Wholesale lending is fundamentally borrowing from money market funds and other very short term, unsecured instruments. The banks borrow short and lend long. It all works until short term money gets scarce or expensive. Both have occurred in the EU and this recently placed DEXIA into bankruptcy, forcing them to be taken over by the Belgium and French governments. The unsecured bond market fundamentally closed in the EU in Q3 2011, as fears mounted that an EU solution was not forthcoming.
Assuming $30T of loans is spread over three years, EU banks have a requirement for $800B / Month of rollover financing for wholesale lending outstanding.
Where is this money going to come from? No one is waiting around to find out as there will be cascading counterparty failures soon surfacing. Banking money in Europe is fleeing to custodial and official accounts of the ECB, the US Federal Reserve and any other central Bank willing to accept their cash."
PIMCO bond king Bill Gross recently tweeted: " What does LTRO stand for? 1- A shell game; 2-Cash for trash; 3 Three-card Monti; or 4. All of the above."