Topic: Housing
News
Nov. 3, 2017

Rent control policies in San Francisco may have fueled gentrification, Stanford economists say. Stanford economists Rebecca Diamond and Tim McQuade, who published their findings last month, said occupants of rent-controlled apartments built before 1980 are 20 percent more likely to stay than other renters. It might seem that rent-control policies, therefore, act as a bastion against gentrification, by allowing and encouraging long-term residents to stay, but the researchers say that's not exactly the case. "Rent control exacerbates the housing shortage by pushing landlords to remove supply of rental housing," Diamond told SFGATE.

News
Oct. 20, 2017

Issi Romem, buildzoom.com's chief economist has made a valuable contribution to the growing literature on the severe unaffordability of housing in a number of US metropolitan areas. The disparities between the severely unaffordable metropolitan areas (read San Jose, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Portland, Seattle, Portland, Denver, Miami, New York, Boston, Sacramento and Riverside-San Bernardino) and the many more affordable areas in America are described in

"Paying For Dirt: Where Have Home Values Detached From Construction Costs". Romem points out that: "In the expensive U.S. coastal metros, home prices have detached from construction costs and can be almost four times as high as the cost of rebuilding existing structures." "Paying for dirt" refers to the ballooning land costs that now comprise an unprecedented part of house values, such as in the severely unaffordable metropolitan markets above. This has created an environment where affordability is impossible. In many of these metropolitan areas, a modest house commands an exorbitant price well beyond the financial capacity of most middle income households. Land has become so expensive that it doesn't matter what is built on it, whether the average house or a tent, the price will be too high. The market distortions are so great that Romem is able to show that, for example, the average house value in Columbus, Ohio, a delightful metropolitan area, is less than the average land value per lot in Portland (Oregon).

News
Oct. 19, 2017

It’s a problem that isn’t going away: the so-called “affordable” housing we’re building in many cities—by which we mean publicly subsidized housing that’s dedicated to low- and moderate-income households—is so expensive to build that we’ll never be able to build enough of it to make a dent in the housing affordability problem

. . . . More broadly, the case has been made that much publicly subsidized affordable housing costs much more to build than market rate housing. Private developers are able to build new multi-family housing at far lower costs. One local builder has constructed new one-bedroom apartments in Portland at cost of less than $100,000 a unit, albeit with fewer amenities and in less central locations than most publicly supported projects. In Portland, local private developer Rob Justus has proposed to build 300 apartments and sell them to the city for $100,000 each on a turn-key basis to be operated as affordable housing. Another possible cost savings measure: off-site construction. The University of California, Berkeley’s Terner Center has a report that explores the possibility for pre-fabricated, off-site construction to reduce construction costs.

News
Oct. 16, 2017

Buyers of newly built homes in Fresno are on the hook for a fee of more than $4,000 to ensure they have enough water coming to their residences. But a trio of major home builders is challenging the city’s fees in court, contending they’re too high, are unfair and amount to a tax that violates state law.

The “water capacity fee,” which adds up to $4,246 for a typical new single-family home with a one-inch connection to a water meter, was approved in April on a 5-1 City Council vote following a contentious public hearing at which developers voiced strong objections. Many of those concerns found their way into the litigation now working its way toward a March trial date in Fresno County Superior Court.

News
Oct. 9, 2017

After a decades-long battle with California’s building industry, developers who want to fast-track housing production – especially in cities that have not built enough housing to keep pace with rising demand – will be required to pay higher wages and benefits to construction workers beginning Jan. 1.

Five of 15 housing bills signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown this year include so-called prevailing wage rules for employers and contractors to pay laborers higher wages and benefits for new construction projects.

The requirements, reached after more than a year of negotiations between powerful labor groups and state Democratic lawmakers, represent the biggest expansion of union-backed pay mandates for construction workers since the late 1990s.

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