Lead Story… Some not-so-great-for-housing news over the past week or so, especially as it pertains to first time buyers. One of the first things that the Trump Administration did after taking office was to suspended the previously announced FHA insurance premium cut that were due to take effect this year. The cut would have resulted in a payment reduction of $500 in the first year for someone borrowing $200k. As most of you are probably aware, FHA financing is extremely popular with first time buyers who are already seeing borrowing costs increase via higher mortgage rates. I’m hoping that this is just a temporary delay so that the new administration can review the FHA’s finances. A fairly vague letter from HUD to lenders read:
more analysis and research are deemed necessary to assess future adjustments while also considering potential market conditions in an ever-changing global economy that could impact our efforts.
I guess that I’ll keep my fingers crossed but this sort of thing does not bode well for affordability. This is especially true at a time when interest in home ownership from potential first time buyers has already tumbled as interest rates have gone up.
Rise of the Machines Part 1: Robot crop pickers have become so prevalent that they are likely to limit potential agricultural employment issues arising from more restrictive immigration policy.
Understated: New, more precise data finds that student loan repayment issues are far worse than previously believed.
All In: Hedge funds and other sources of so called “fast money” that use large amounts of leverage to make financial bets have taken a massive short position in the US Treasury market. At the same time, big institutional buyers like mutual funds and insurers who use very little leverage are building up larger long positions. If history is any guide, this will not end well for the hedge fund crowd.
Trade Off: I found this blog post about the economics of sky scrapers from Marginal Revolution somewhat fascinating. Long story short is that the revenues from the upper floors need to justify the lost space from added elevators on lower floors (more elevators are needed to serve more floors). Yes, I know I’m a nerd.
Under Cover: How real estate agents use spy tactics to help shield the identities of famous clients.
Transformation: How Venice went from a funky, run down beach town one of LA’s most expensive neighborhoods.
It’s All Relative: Hong Kong is still the most expensive home market in the world and it’s not even close.
Frantic: As someone who hates moving with a passion, I find the logistics behind the process of one president moving out of the White House and the next one moving in absolutely fascinating.
Rise of the Machines: Scientists have developed artificial intelligence that is smarter than the average American. Sadly, this isn’t saying a whole lot.
Chart of the Day
Apartment market conditions are loosening
Liability: A man from Mexico has the most interesting “disability” of all time. Plus, I can think of at least one career that would easily get him off of welfare.
Hero: A 13-year old girl held at gunpoint in a Harlem McDonalds refused to hand over what her assailant was after – her chicken McNuggets.
Inconspicuous: Police in Wales are on the lookout for a man who stole two pizzas while dressed as a beer bottle. I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume that alcohol may have been involved.
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