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Homeownership

Researchers point to the government as source of California’s housing shortage

(REAL ESTATE NEWS) California is in the middle of a housing crisis with ongoing shortages. The Governor has a plan, but many have pointed to the government as the source of the problem with no end in sight.

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These days, California ranks #2 as the state with the highest cost of living in the United States, second only to Hawaii. The average home price in the The Golden State is over $1 million. Your monthly energy bill will be over $200.  And still, it’s one of the most desirable places to live. Small wonder that people flock to California, because the state ranks worst for doing business thanks to taxes and regulations.

It’s no secret that California has a housing shortage. It’s not even that the housing costs are sky-high. It’s that there simply aren’t enough homes to go around. Gov. Gavin Newsom says he plans to build 3.5 million new homes over the next few years to fix this crisis, but it may take much more to bring housing to the homeless and under-employed.

In a Los Angeles Times Op-Ed, James Broughel and Emily Hamilton suggest that California is overregulated when it comes to housing.

The average state has about 137,000 restrictions in its housing code. California has over 395,000.

Although many of the regulations are necessary to protect the environment and to ensure safety, it can contribute to higher construction costs, which it turn are passed on to consumers.

The California Code of Regulations contains over 21 million words. (Forbes estimates that the US tax code was about 4 million words in 2013). At a reading speed of 300 words per minute, for 40 hours a week, it would take 29 weeks or more to read the thing. And that doesn’t take into account comprehension, which requires a legal degree.

California’s housing shortage is a man-made problem that will take years to undo. One builder in Orange County planned a new community in Santa Clarita that would provide almost 22,000 homes.

The project has been stalled since 1994.

As the project ages, each home being constructed faces new regulations, increasing the cost of the home, making it near impossible for average families to obtain the American Dream.

It’s been suggested that California’s housing shortage is a political choice.

Bureaucrats are choosing to restrict housing by placing regulatory burdens on builders instead of helping the population find affordable housing to be more stable. Families are leaving California to find a more affordable cost of living and housing which will continue to hurt the state.

Dawn Brotherton is a Staff Writer at The American Genius, and has an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Central Oklahoma. Before earning her degree, she spent over 20 years homeschooling her two daughters, who are now out changing the world. She lives in Oklahoma and loves to golf. She hopes to publish a novel in the future.

Homeownership

4 million homeowners skip mortgage payments as forbearance requests slow

(REAL ESTATE) It is no surprise that mortgage payments are being skipped across the nation, but it’s not all a total loss…

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Over 4.1 million American homeowners are currently skipping their mortgage payments on a temporary basis as COVID-19 keeps the economy shut down, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA).

Meanwhile, forbearance requests have slowed – the MBA’s weekly survey indicates that 8.16 percent of total loans are now in forbearance plans, up from 7.91 percent the week prior, and while the share of loans in forbearance is rising, the trend is toward requests decreasing.

Mike Fratantoni, MBA’s Senior Vice President and Chief Economist, said in a statement, “There has been a pronounced flattening in loans put into forbearance – despite April’s uniformly negative economic data, remarkably high unemployment, and it now being past May payment due dates.”

Congress passed the $2.22 trillion CARES Act (the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act), under which homeowners holding a federally backed home loan may delay mortgage payments for up to a year, but politicians are quick to remind folks that the money is still due, and fees may still apply during the forbearance period.

This relief effort is the primary reason so many did not pay their mortgage this month. People are still unsure of whether or not they will be employed in the near future, and are managing their finances accordingly, particularly while lenders are still in the mood to negotiate. Economists believe that difficulties will be ongoing, and homeowners will continue to struggle as a whole.

While our economy hasn’t been hit this hard since the Great Depression, and unemployment numbers reveal widespread economic devastation, slivers of hope remain. Forbearance requests slowing isn’t the only housing hope – new home construction levels are down, but nowhere near at the same pace as other sectors harder hit.

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Homeownership

Find out if your rental home is under the 120-day federal eviction moratorium

(HOMEOWNERSHIP) COVID-19 has thrown many certainties into chaos, but heres a beacon of light if you are worried about paying rent and if you will fall victim to eviction.

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Proactively prevent foreclosure eviction

The Texas Supreme Court extended a moratorium on evictions through April 30. Dallas County’s moratorium runs through May 18. Tarrant County, next to Dallas County, has an indefinite moratorium. Meanwhile, cities, counties, and states across America have different moratoriums.

The CARES Act includes a federal eviction moratorium that begins on March 27 and lasts for 120 days.

Federally subsidized housing cannot evict tenants for non-payment for 120 days. If you’re like most renters, you may not know if your property is backed a federal program, such as HUD, FHA, USDA or Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Here is a searchable database helps renters identify if their home is covered by the CARES Act

The National Low Income Housing Coalition offers a searchable database of homes that are covered by the CARES Act. Please note that the database is not comprehensive. Just because your home isn’t listed, doesn’t mean that the CARES ACT doesn’t apply.

The NLIHC offers updates on COVID-19 housing issues. They also have a page for state housing assistance. Low income households in Austin may qualify for assistance through the Austin Tenant Stabilization Program. Share that program with tenants and landlords to prevent evictions.

Eviction moratoriums do not mean that tenants don’t have to pay rent or late fees.

Tenants and landlords need to work together to find a solution to paying rent during the COVID-19 pandemic. The eviction moratorium is not a rent freeze. When life gets back to normal, tenants will still owe back and current rent or risk eviction.

We wrote that the National Multifamily Housing Council is recommending that its members waive late fees and administrative costs and help residents with payment plans.

It’s going to take everyone working together to keep families stable after the pandemic. We will do our best to keep you updated on any new options and helpful programs.

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Homeownership

1 in 3 renters didn’t pay rent in April – now what?

(HOMEOWNERSHIP) Renters have fallen behind on rent in the past month; that money can help them during this hard time, but what happens to the landlords?

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The National Multifamily Housing Council reports that only 69% of renters paid their rent by April 5. For comparison, last month, 81% had paid their rent by March 5. Last year’s figure for April was 82%. This figure should give lawmakers and business owners pause during the coronavirus pandemic. It’s hoped that as unemployment and stimulus money is paid out, renters can make their payments, but this 12% drop in rent payments demonstrates just one challenge facing our nation.

Evictions on hold, but this may not be enough

The NMHC is recommending short-term financial assistance to renters who have lost their job due to the pandemic instead of just placing a moratorium on evictions. Putting a halt on evictions simply delays the inevitable. Renters who lost a job won’t simply be able to make back payments in a few months. The Texas Supreme Court has placed a moratorium on evictions through June 1. HUD extends this through July 24 for government-assisted housing.

A group in Colorado is asking for a rent strike, which in theory sounds effective. The problem is that landlords still have their own bills to pay, utilities, maintenance, mortgages and more. A rent freeze could create a tidal wave of issues that will further extend the economic uncertainty. Although some are hoping that Congress will address this huge problem, it could take a few weeks to get direct relief.

What are some options?

Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson says, “Have a heart, have a heart. These are incredibly difficult times for everyone.” He also asked renters to work with their landlords, because they have bills, too. NMHC is asking its members to:

• Waive late fees and administrative costs over the next month
• Give residents payment plans (put them in writing)
• Share resources to help residents

Renters need to be proactive and talk to landlords about their situation. And landlords would be wise to openly communicate their limits to renters – transparency could be the difference between flipping a unit and praying for a renter, and a few tough months. These are difficult times. Everyone is going to have to work together to find solutions to alleviate the effects of this pandemic.

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