Thursday August 5, 2010 | Housing Market Update

August 4, 2010 at 11:15 am | Posted in Coming Up | 7 Comments

It looks like the housing market across the nation has stalled yet again, and Charlotte is not immune to the bad news. Home sales, inventory of homes for sale, and construction plans are all weaker, with steady declines each month for the past several months. We’ll find out how bad the market is here and around the nation and we’ll talk about what experts think the future of housing looks like and what might pull the industry out of its slump.
Emma Littlejohn – President, The Littlejohn Group
Dan Cottingham – Owner/Broker, Cottingham Chalk Hayes Realtors
David Bracken – Staff Writer, The Raleigh News and Observer

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  1. Here is what we should do:

    Start tearing down houses and recycling as much of the building materials as we can until supply drops back down to a level that is in line with demand. This gradual and intelligently planned demolition would create a lot of jobs for a while considering the volume.

    A certain percentage of the vacant/unsold houses on each block or in each neighborhood should be torn down to bring the housing supply back down to realistic levels.

    Then, once that is done and some land in each area or neighborhood is again freed up, use that vacant land to plant community gardens, orchards, small livestock pens, and so on.

    Or some of the vacant lots can be zoned commercial, and small local/neighborhood shops, stores, workshops, restaurants, pubs, and so on can be built there.

    Or turn these vacant lots in to community centers, small parks, places of worship, and so on.

    Time to get creative and innovative. Time to start retrofitting all of these neighborhoods and blocks, try to turn them in to something resembling locally sustainable villages instead of just bedroom communities.

    • Again, just TEAR THEM DOWN and then put better things in their place such as gardens, shops, restaurants, orchards, pubs, parks, community centers, etc. Make it so more people can work very near to where they live – tear down unsold/vacant homes and put small businesses in their place, or revive food production therein.

      Rebuild villages and small towns – each neighborhood their own mostly self contained village. A Charlotte Talks show last year on ‘Agriburbia’ had a lot of excellent ideas on how to sustainably retrofit a lot of these neighborhoods, towns, and blocks:

  2. Our housing market was in such a steep dive that we were in danger of getting into a deflationary trap. When people know prices are declining they will hold off buying, which depresses prices even further. This is a very dangerous, self-feeding slide that once started is very difficult to stop.

    The stimulus for housing very likely kept this from happening, but it should be continued for the short term until our recovery is on solid ground. So should measures to prevent the large number of foreclosures predicted. The housing market comprises too big a piece of our economy to risk it spiraling down. Some people may get an undeserved break but all of us will suffer if this crucial market collapses.

    • Housing prices still have a long way to fall – many people are getting ripped off by paying far too much for basic (or even substandard) housing. Monthly mortgage payments or rents need to drop by around 1/4-1/3 more to come back down to reality.

      With job loss and stagnant wages, people cannot afford to pay such a high percentage of their income for just a roof over their head. It is absurd. If businesspeople want to jump-start the economy they can do so by freeing up more spending money per month by bringing rents/mortgage payments back in to a reasonable range – for instance, if people only paid about 20% of their monthly salary for housing instead of 33% or more that would free up a whole lot of money that could circulate back in to the wider economy.

  3. Monthly mortgage payments are the buyers choice not the sellers. The market will dictate. Foreclosures have already lowered house prices because they have increased supply. If left alone the market will correct itself over time. That does not mean people will be homeless just that they will live within their means. That’s a choice. I live in a tin roofed shack but have no mortgage. It’s my choice. It is not compassionate to enable people to live beyond their means.

    The whole point is moot anyway. Obama to the rescue. He’s buying votes but exasperating the core problem.

  4. I, and the other regular posters have been making a mockery of what should be concerned discussion by imposing our ideologies on any and every subject. The above is typical. For instance, Agritopia sounds attractive until you understand that agriculture is now an industrial process, including organic production, and no one wants their dwelling to be exposed to the smells, noises and unsightly processes that are necessary. Our definition of a dwelling is also somewhat narrowed by regulation and by socialization. I have a female friend who enjoys staying in a bunkhouse in New Hampshire with 30 male skiers and being one of the guys. She would like doing that every night all year. She would also like skiing every day all day for the rest of her life. My friend Jack just rolls out a pallet on his studio work table each night and eats among his projects. Let’s hope he doesn’t drink from the wrong container. We maybe should realize we have a great variety of unusual tastes in this society “seeking a situation.” All of us are tired of the cheap, fragile boxes being built today by underpaid immigrant laborers and the real estate and finance parasitism that keeps away imagination, variety and self-sufficiency in house construction.

    Charlotte Talks is far more conventional and bounded than it has to be also. The whole civilized world has become imagination-comatose. I got so sick of the circular thinking at my recent economic colloquium in Europe when I realized we could never talk about anything but speculation in money value. I saw the whole chain of narrowed thinking manifest when I met a fund manager from London who had been born 58 years ago on the poor side of Gastonia (Gary S. Long of BLM Strategies)to victimized and narrow-minded parents. His thinking was further funneled as he scholarshipped through the best universities idolizing the wealthy class. In the Middle East he had to accept royal tribal authoritarianism as he manipulated astronomical monies. Captive to US intelligence operatives and his patrons he has never really experienced life outside “the bank.” His net worth is in the 10s of millions or more but he has less freedom than a teller at BB and T in the town where he originated.

    Mike says he uses words to paint a picture and that such is his craft. Mike has the potential to be an imaginative man (writer, actor, artist) but he fails to use it in his work. A talkshow host would serve the people better who questioned the very categories imposed upon us and rejected the scoreboard approach of accepting the business definition of everything. A house should be a home but a home doesn’t have to be a house. Sitting there fearful that he might upset the positivist con of mindless prosperity (usually for a few) must be a tortured existence.

    My final CT post can be read under the repeat show with Bob Garfield. Gladdie, my wife, says that I have provided free content here without being understood for too long. I think I have become an obstacle to my own hopes and wishes for WFAE. I will continue listening but hush up. There are some others who should follow my example.

    • For the record Mr. Howard, I understand you completely but just disagree with most of your premises. However, for the most part I agree with your comments here. I for one will continue to comment when ever passion moves me to do so. I would even consider doing another “Average Joe” if asked again as I was for the second ever edition. I commented long before you got here and if this is your last post then after as well. Honest debate is good. Insults that assume inferior thinking are not. I also think expecting your own personal “hopes and wishes” to be imposed on this blog is asking a bit much. Your comments are usually very illustrative of a certain point of view that add greatly at times but IMO not worth paying for. The fact that a devoted anti-capitalist like you wants to be compensated for your enlightened intellect is rich (pun intended). Write a book and sell it if you can. Start your own blog and sell advertising if you want. I don’t doubt you could as you are very eloquent. This is America, nothing is standing in your way.

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