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Monday Morning Cup of Coffee: Nation honors veterans while wildfires ravage California and Trump tweets incite anger

Plus, Amazon H2Q speculation sends ripples through real estate markets

Here’s your Monday Morning Cup of Coffee, which takes a look at the news that came across the HousingWire weekend desk, giving you a recap of the headlines to start your week off right.

Today, the nation honors the 20 million American veterans who have fought for their country. This Veterans Day is notable as it marks 100-year anniversary of the armistice that ended World War I.

In acknowledgment of the holiday, here are three facts about the changing nature of veterans in this country, courtesy of Pew Research:

  1. The share of the population with military experience is dropping. Census Bureau data reveals that in 2016, just 7% of U.S. adults were veterans, compared with 18% in 1980. Projections from the Department of Veterans Affairs predict that the number of veterans will continue to decline, dropping 40% to 12 million by 2045.
  2. Fewer members of Congress have military experience than ever before. In the 2017 Congress, only 20% of senators and 19% of representatives had military service on their record.
  3. Gulf War veterans now account for the largest share of veterans. According to 2016 VA data, there are 6.8 million veterans who served during Vietnam and 7.1 million who served during the Gulf War. There are also 1.6 million veterans of the Korean conflict and 771,000 World War II veterans.

Moving on, intense wildfires continue to ravage California as the number of those killed reached 23 on Sunday.

The fires raging north of Los Angeles in Malibu and in Northern California above Sacramento have led to the evacuation of an estimated 250,000 residents living in the path of the blaze.

President Donald Trump addressed the fires in a series of controversial tweets this weekend.

“There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor,” President Trump tweeted on Saturday. “Billions of dollars are given each year, with so many lives lost, all because of gross mismanagement of the forests. Remedy now, or no more Fed payments!”

In a tweet on Sunday, he reiterated his claim that mismanagement led to the destruction.

“With proper Forest Management, we can stop the devastation constantly going on in California. Get smart!" Trump tweeted.

The comments drew the ire of politicians, firefighters and celebrities, who criticized the president for politicizing a natural disaster.

“The president's message attacking California and threatening to withhold aid to the victims of the cataclysmic fires is ill-informed, ill-timed and demeaning to those who are suffering as well as the men and women on the front lines," Brian K. Rice, president of the California Professional Firefighters, said in a statement.

"Wildfires are sparked and spread not only in forested areas but in populated areas and open fields fueled by parched vegetation, high winds, low humidity and geography," Rice continued.

Also, it was announced Saturday that Republican congressman Dana Rohrabacher of Orange County, California, lost his seat after 15 terms.

Rohrabacher lost in a tight race to Democrat Harley Rouda in one of the state’s most watched congressional races.

Rohrabacher is an adamant supporter of President Trump and was known for being outspoken about his support for Russia, leading some to dub him “Putin’s favorite congressman.”

No stranger to controversy, Rohrabacher made headlines in May when he said it was acceptable for homeowners to refuse to sell their homes to LGBTQ buyers.

“Every homeowner should be able to make a decision not to sell their home to someone [if] they don’t agree with their lifestyle,” Rohrabacher publicly stated.

The National Association of Realtors withdrew its support for Rohrabacher as a result of his comment.

Finally, speculation surrounding the two potential locations of Amazon’s H2Q are having a tangible impact on the real estate market.

Rumors that Amazon will set up shop in Arlington, Virginia, and Queens, New York, have triggered a flurry of interest in both housing markets, according to CNN.

The locations have not been confirmed, and the headquarters – which combined would employ more than 50,000 – wouldn’t be open for years. Yet, real estate markets in both areas have seen a notable uptick in interest.

Redfin searches in the first week of November highlight the impact of the speculation. Searches in Crystal City, near Arlington, are up 345% from the same period last year, while searches in Long Island City grew 659%.

But real estate agents in both areas have seen business as usual stall as sellers wait to see how the H2Q news could affect the price of their property, according to CNN.

Both markets have experienced a slowdown in the last year thanks to a glut of high-priced inventory and high interest rates, and while buyer interest has spiked, it hasn’t led to any action just yet.

“In the near term, that may be the biggest impact on Amazon's potential new host cities: A freeze, as owners wait for higher prices when the influx arrives,” the article states.

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