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WASHINGTON — Economic data released on Thursday indicated solid job growth and provided further signs that housing is recovering.
The New York Times
The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits fell 23,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 340,000, a level consistent with firm job growth.
And sales of new homes rose in April to the second-highest level since summer 2008, while the median price for a new home hit a high.
The Labor Department said on Thursday that the less volatile four-week average of jobless claims declined just 500 to 339,500. That is close to the five-year low of 338,000 reached in the first week of May. The four-week average is 9 percent lower than last November.
“The underlying story in jobless claims continues to be one of gradual improvement,” Bricklin Dwyer, an economist at BNP Paribas, wrote in a research report.
Unemployment claims are a proxy for layoffs. The decline in claims has coincided with steady job growth over the last six months. Since last November, employers have added an average 208,000 jobs a month. That is up from just 138,000 jobs a month in the previous six months.
According to an interesting article Even Renters Aren't Safe featured on the NYTimes.com, though renters believed they were safe and had avoided the subprime mortgage crisis by opting to rent rather than buy it turns out they weren't as unaffected as they thought. Many renters are finding themselves in situations where the building or home they are renting is going into foreclosure. Though it seems unlikely that a rental property producing income would go into foreclosure, many rental properties throughout the United States are. Though analysts predict this problem to be predominately of lower to middle income markets, this problem is rapidly expanding nationwide. Furthermore, the article goes on to iterate the point that the housing crisis has effected New York City quite differently than throughout the country.
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According to a recent article Home Prices Start to Dip, Recalling ’90s Slump on NYTimes.com all the talk of the housing slump and downward real estate market seemed foreign to most homeowners, considering that the value of real estate has increased exponentially in value in recent years. For example, the prices of real estate in Manhattan make homeownership unattainable for most. Although, the Manhattan real estate market has remained strong throughout this alleged slump, more cracks have begun to show in the housing market. Furthermore, some analysts have gone as far to label the present market comparable with "severe downturn in the region during the recession that followed the boom years of the late 1980s." According to the article, the strongest tell tale sign of trouble is the weakness of Manhattan.
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According to an interesting article posted on NYTimes.com Real Estate Section: Co-ops Reap Unexpected Bonanza a law changed last month means change for commercial tenants. According to this law change cooperative buildings are now allowed to increase the rent they charge their commercial tenants. Apparently, retail space in some cooperative buildings in New York City have rented at bargain rates and in some cases, tenants have received thousands of dollars back at the end of the year. All of these measures were taken to ensure that tenants were not overcharged for their retail space. Although all of this sounds quite generous, the fact is that these cooperatives were mandated to follow such practices because of the 80-20 rule, a federal tax regulation that requires residential cooperative to make at least 80% of their gross income from tenant shareholders and no more than 20% from other sources of income; namely commercial tenants. However, a recent change in the law has allowed cooperatives to charge more for their commercial space and it hasn't taken long for the cooperatives to employ these changes.
According to the real estate article, When the Price Includes Tenants featured on NYTimes.com, if a deal seems to good to be true, more than likely it is! The catch usually is that the real estate listing is selling for thousands of dollars less because the property comes with rent-regulated/controlled tenants. Rent regulations were first established in 1943 to protect war veterans from vagaries of the rental market. Although affordable housing is usually considered a 'good thing,' for buyers it becomes problematic because removing rent regulated tenants is difficult and in extreme cases impossible. The process if not only time consuming, but also expensive. However, in this market, realtors and lawyers are advising that in some cases, rent regulated tenants can work to an owners advantage.
According to a recent article, Day and Night on NYTimes.com, the relationship between homeowner and Manhattan real estate is comprised of many compromises. Most real estate does not satifsy every homeowner's requirement, but it's true that most homeowner's do not consider some important factors while deciding whether or not to purchase real estate. Homeowner's have become savvy in viewing real estate in day and night light. But, the catch is, rarely have these same prospective buyers thought to view the same property's neighborhood in day and night light. This article argues that many lively neighborhoods can take a turn for the worst once dusk falls.
According to the NYTimes.com article: House Votes to Aid Struggling Homeowners, yesterday, the House approved legislation to expand federal backing or mortgages, in an effort to financially help struggling homeowners avoid the seemingly inevitable foreclosure. The bill would allow the Federal Housing Administration, which insures mortgages for low- and middle-income borrowers, to back refinanced loans for borrowers who are already deliquent as a result of their mortgages resetting. Many homeowners had been lured to mortgages with low intial teaser level rates and now, are unable to meet the payment requirements.
According to an interesting article: Condo Prices Give Pause on NYTimes.com, the Long Island market has been at a standstill, much due to the face that the number of homes, condominiums and cooperatives on the market is growing and tighter lending restrictions are in place, which have reduced the amount of eligible buyers. However, these market conditions have further fueled buyers to seek bargains within the condo/co-op market. However, the article further illustrates that many brokers selling condos in the Nassau area are charging more than buyers are willing to pay. Brokers argue, that buyers can get a house and pay less in taxes than in common charges and condo taxes combined.
This article: What You Get for... $550,000 on NYTimes.com compares properties for sale in Chicago, Hawaii and Maine. The differences in price per square footage are astounding, a clear example of how certain locations are deemed more expensive than others for various reasons unknown to most. What makes Chicago a stronger market than Maine?, hm, well that's all based on the fact that in Chicago real estate is nearly three times as much per square foot than in Maine.