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Opinion, commentary, and analysis on everything that makes the U.S. housing economy tick -- not to mention the ghosts in the machine, too. Written by HW's team of editors and reporters each business day.
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Trending Thursday: More McMansions, Ferguson home values and more

Plus the real truth about whether renters really want to buy

May 28, 2015

Trending Thursday is a roundup of the stories shaping the week and what’s yet to come through the weekend — also taking into account social media reaction. Think of it as a midweek Monday Morning Cup of Coffee, but with extra caffeine.

Creative destruction rises in the near suburbs around the country as an increasing number of builders are buying up modest suburban homes just to knock them down and build the kind of bigger homes that people want.

Home teardowns are becoming common in U.S. suburbs such as Pimmit Hills, a 65-year-old neighborhood just beyond the borders of the growing Tysons Corner area near Washington. Builders, lured to locations where land is more valuable than the aging housing stock, are transforming communities outside of major employment hubs to take advantage of demand for real estate where schools are decent and commutes are short.

Knockdowns across the country are increasing, said Robert Dietz, an economist with the National Association of Home Builders. The trade group estimates that builders tore down and reconstructed about 32,000 homes last year, representing 5 percent of all single-family housing starts. Beyond the nation’s capital, the trend can be found in suburbs of cities from Boston to Minneapolis and Los Angeles.

“It’s all about traffic jams -- people can have nice houses far out in outer suburbs but the commute time is impossible,” Lawrence Yun, chief economist of the National Association of Realtors, said in a telephone interview. “This is an ongoing process because older-built homes happen to be closer to job centers and may not meet the needs of modern homebuyers.”

So you want to be a rapacious home-flipper, like Elizabeth Warren, who flipped five houses to net $240,000?

Here are some tips for your flips.

The Wall Street Journal’s Nick Timiraos catches an interesting factoid in the New York Fed’s May housing survey.

 

The prolific Logan Mohtashami notes it bodes well – at least in a few years it will.

 

In fact the New York Fed itself is talking up some of its findings.

 

Meanwhile, Zerohedge finds an interesting contrast in today’s pending home sales report from the National Association of Realtors.

 

Did major Wall Street banks know they were laundering and transferring bribe money in the alleged racketeering, wire fraud and corruption scandal focused on FIFA?

Curious minds at the Department of Justice want to know.

A raft of banks have been named in the 164-page indictment that the U.S. Department of Justice released Wednesday, alleging that nine soccer officials from the sport’s top governing body, FIFA, and five sports executives were part of a 24-year corruption scheme involving more than $150 million in bribes.

Among major financial institutions allegedly used to facilitate payments and wire transfers are J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., Citigroup Inc., Bank of America Corp., HSBC Holdings PLC, UBS AG, and Julius Baer Gruppe AG, according to indictment. 

So what does being ground zero for trumped-up, anti-police protests over a justified shooting get you in terms of property values and home prices?

A lot of trouble, as they are finding out in Ferguson, Missouri – courtesy Realtor Magazine.

Home values in Ferguson, Mo., have plummeted nearly 50 percent since Michael Brown’s death, new housing data shows.

Protests erupted in November following a grand jury's decision not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown.

Members of the community are feeling the financial toll from the civil disturbances last year that caused property values to fall rapidly. John Zisser, owner of a business called Zisser's Tires says last year his business' property was valued at nearly a million. "If I sold this place today, I could probably get $300,000 for it, if anyone is crazy enough to buy."

Since Brown's death in August and the protests that followed, home prices have been steadily declining, according to housing data from MARIS, an information service for real estate professionals. Before Brown's death, the average home sold in 2014 for $66,764 in Ferguson. For the final three and a half months of 2014, the average home sold for $36,168 – a 46 percent decline. So far in 2015, prices are continuing to tumble, with homes now selling on average for $22,951.

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