Landmark Links April 23rd – Urban Cow Tipping

Quote of the Day….. ““The era of big master-planned communities is not quite over, but it’s ending,” “The kind of development that’s going on in Orange County is fundamentally changing. It’s going to be more infill, mixed-use, high-density development.” – Wallace Walrod, chief economic advisor to the Orange County Business Council (and charter member of the Great Name Club) on the need for more high density units in The OC.


Subprime Shuffle: Investors are once again hungry for yield and are turning over rocks in some odd places to find it.  One of those places is the now-booming business of financing crappy cars for people with crappy credit.  AKA Subprime Auto Financing.  As stated before, this will not likely end well for most anyone involved.

Millennials – not so different after all: There has been much breathless commentary and wasted pages about how much different millennials are than prior generations.  Only one problem: the actual hard data disagrees.  In the latest example, those public transit riding car-share app using millennials are now buying cars.  Just like their parents did.


Pool Pariahs: California is about to come down hard on certain cities that have been cited for excessive water use.  The City of Beverly Hills is considering a ban on refilling swimming pools in the coming months.  The big winner here will likely be local skateboard shops.

Water Bill Washout: Landlords in LA are lobbying Mayor Garcetti to back a proposal calling for renters in rent controlled buildings to pay the water bills collectively in exchange for slightly lower rent.  Makes some sense until you realize that nearly all of these buildings are master-metered which is going to cause all sorts of conflicts when the bill comes due and you noticed that you neighbor has been taking extra long showers.


New home prices are en fuego even as sales declined in March (they are still off to a good start for 2015 though).  With prices moving higher and inventory still thin, affordability is becoming a bigger and bigger concern.  In Orange County, the lack of affordable apartments and higher density housing is getting to the point where it could begin to drive out workers and hurt the economy (h/t Tad Springer of TE Springer & Associates).  According to the OC Business Council, we already have 50,000 – 62,000 too few homes and the problem will only get worse.  In other Orange County news, pretty much everything that is for sale is transacting quickly.

The entry level market is a bit of a different story.  It has been widely ignored by homebuilders who have increasingly gone after higher end buyers.  Except for DR Horton who has targeted the entry level buyer with their Express Homes product and has seen demand for that product triple in its first year.

In other news, low-cost housing demand has been a boon for mobile-home park operators

Commercial Real Estate

The Chase for Yield: The boom in commercial real estate is leading to a land rush as investors who can’t get the yields that they are looking for out of existing properties are turning to development to meet their investment objectives.  Commercial land values are now above their prior peaks in many markets.  One thing that could slow all this down substantially: Regulators who just passed more stringent reserve requirements for some lenders on AD&C loans which is likely to drive the cost of money higher.


Motor City Miracle? Don’t look now but Detroit, largely left for dead just a couple of years ago after the nation’s largest urban bankruptcy is suddenly cool again and is attracting young talent and investment.  In other words, the hipsters are taking over.

Chart of the Day

Millennial (Generation Y) demand for cars is growing more quickly than any other age group.  So much for the idea that they were going to use mass transit and car-share apps forever.

Source: The Atlantic


LOL – Urban Cow Tipping: Vandals in San Francisco have a new hobby – tipping over Smart Cars

RIP – China is cracking down on funeral strippers.  Yes, funeral strippers: “In the Handan incident earlier this year, the ministry said, six performers had arrived to offer an erotic dance at the funeral of an elderly resident. Investigators were dispatched and the performance was found to have violated public security regulations, with the person responsible for the performing troupe in question detained administratively for 15 days and fined 70,000 yuan (about $11,300), the statement said. The government condemned such performances for corrupting the social atmosphere.”

Only in Russia: A terminally ill Russian man volunteered for first human head transplant.

What’s in a name: The “Neighborhood of LA Formerly Known as South Central” is having another identity crisis.  The LA City Council voted to change the name of the area to South Los Angeles back in 2003 which did little to change its negative connotation.  Now they think that changing the name to SOLA will successfully brand the mostly poorer area as hip and improving.  In other news, if I call one of my arms a let, does that mean that I have three legs?

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Landmark Links April 23rd – Urban Cow Tipping

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