Sunday, April 1, 2018

Bust a Move

On Thursday during my bizarre verbal exchange (I have ceased calling them conversations as those are reciprocal polite dialogues that allow people to express their thoughts, listen to others, respond and then move onto another topic or cease talking in a dignified manner) with the Battleax in the ELL class, she informed me that while the wages for Teachers here are the greatest ever the cost to live here is the same as Seattle.   

Again,  I realize that here they compete to see which fly would land faster and the overwhelming need to be right over be wrong,  refuse to admit not knowing something or do so by saying something like "above my pay grade" or "bless your heart" to dismiss you rather than enable or just allow people to exchange information in which to be better informed,  is  Well no and yes is how these dialogues go. So sticking with these facts thing and given the source even I am not 100% sure I do read the local rage and still follow Seattle news.   (And this Google thing works too as I even fact check both The Seattle Times and The Tennessean)  So while in both cities the cost of housing has skyrocketed, the wages in Seattle are higher than the national average.  The median wage is 65-75K thanks to Amazon but even service industry workers are averaging $15/hr, have sick leave covered for at least two days, have a better health care option system and better transit and transportation options (such as car share which is not ride share) to get to work.    Add to that the legal Marijuana and liberal politics you have a winner winner chicken dinner. 

And during this exchange I had the front page of the local rag with the below article right on the front page.   The irony a year ago they were claiming it was the hottest real estate market in the country. Or not.  The Tennessean a source of outstanding non-journalism.

Nashville home prices jump as wage increases crawl
Sandy Mazza, USA TODAY NETWORK - Tennessee Published 12:01 a.m. CT March 29, 2018

As the supply of affordable homes dries up and more expensive homes sit unsold, many wonder if the city’s frenzied growth has inflated prices to an unsustainable level. 

Nashville-area housing costs continue to outpace wages this year, jumping 8 percent since 2017 while income went up just 2 percent, according to a report released Thursday comparing federally reported sales deeds and wages.

But the housing-cost increase declined from double-digit hikes in the first quarter of 2017 when Davidson County's heated housing market peaked, according to ATTOM Data Solutions, a California-based national property data warehousing firm.

"Prior to this year, we saw two years of double-digit price increases in Davidson County, and got as high as 18 percent in the first quarter of 2017," said Daren Blomquist, senior vice president with ATTOM Data Solutions. "That does support a cooling or slowing of price appreciation. But the price point, in that $200,000 to $250,000 range, is still going to be pretty appealing to buyers coming from out of state particularly."

Home prices have gone up 74 percent since 2012, when the median cost was just $140,000. This year so far, the the median sales price of a home in Davidson County was $243,500, according to the U.S. Home Affordability Index report.

Nationwide, the median home price in the first quarter of this year is $229,500, and home prices in 304 of the 446 counties analyzed in this report were found to be too expensive for average wage-earners.
'A double-edged sword'

For the first time in five years, U.S. Census data showed the metro area's fast-paced population growth decreased from 100 people per day to 94 new residents from 2016 to 2017.

Davidson County ranked as the seventh least-affordable area out of 130 counties nationwide that are home to at least a half-million residents, according to the ATTOM report.

Workers earned an average salary of $57,564 in the first quarter of this year, but needed $66,437 to afford a median-priced home with 3 percent down and a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage.

"It's a booming market but it's becoming less affordable for people who already live there and are making the average wage," Blomquist said. "The coastal markets have become so expensive that it's pushing people and jobs to less expensive inland markets, which are then in turn benefiting. But it's a double-edged sword."

Dallas, Austin and Denver were also among the least affordable cities in this population bracket, though coastal communities in California and New York topped the nation's list for the most expensive places to live.

Nashville-adjacent Rutherford and Sumner counties saw double-digit surges in home prices this year. Those counties, which include Murfreesboro and Hendersonville, also together welcomed more than 11,000 new residents.

Despite the surging real estate values, wages across the region increased only 1 or 2 percent.

Nashville's Office of Housing has increased efforts to develop new affordable housing since 2015 in an effort to combat the price gap.

"The city has put more than $50 million toward affordable and workforce housing in two years and provided 70 properties," said Adriane Bond Harris, director of the Mayor's Office of Housing. "Our focus is creating tools for nonprofit and for-profit developers to create affordable housing."

A 110-unit development on a city property is underway at 12th and Wedgewood.

The Barnes Housing Trust Fund provides grants for developers to create new affordable housing opportunities, and they are actively looking for partners.

A pilot program now underway pays the difference between what low-income households can afford and the market rate of a housing unit.

Nashville must add 31,000 new affordable rental units between 2017 and 2025 to prevent a major housing shortage for teachers and other workers, according to a city report.

"The fund has invested in the development of 1,300 units in the last two years," said Morgan Mansa, housing program manager for the Barnes Fund. "It was critical that we provide donations of property to nonprofit developers to help with their bottom line."

Mansa said the recently-launched Community Land Trust program is designed to create islands of permanently affordable housing. But the program's long-term survival is being challenged by the state, which also blocked Metro's effort to institute inclusionary zoning rules that put demands on developers to include affordable units.

"The state has limit on a Community Land Trust, even though we really need it," Mansa said. "Being a blue dot in a red state makes our job challenging."

Then the issues surrounding Nashville's growth has done little to abate the issue of flooding as the Cumberland did only eight years ago.   And the reality is that even the Council is trying to work around this as developers snatch up land at throwaway prices in the same way they did in Houston when Developers built an entire suburb in a reservoir to abate said floods post Hurricanes.  That worked out clearly or not as this article explains

Here in Tennessee the State Legislature overrides any local municipal directives and writes laws in the same way Washington State did when Seattle tried to write a Rent Control law to protect long term tenants from rental increases that pushed them out.   New York City has had said laws for decades and while it works there are ways to circumvent them as we have learned thanks to Trump.  His father was notorious for avoiding laws regarding housing and development.  Like father like son.
Then yesterday on the front page of the local rag was another article about the rise of Penthouses in Nashville.  Really?  Who are these people?  I would guess rich folks buying it as a tax dodge or some other corporate hideaway that until the recent Tax law would have been not a problem.  But in today's climate the deductions for Mortgages has dramatically changed and this type of property is not easily written off.  But hey I have no doubt that some Oligarch in Russia would love to hang out in Nashville.  New York is so over.This luxury housing market is hitting peak levels.  And once again Nashville is late to the party, just ask Miami.    

Yes more people are working but wages are stagnating.  There is some growth but it is in a few competitive professions and in those areas where local legislation has been aggressive to rise minimum wages and help those move up the ladder since fewer and fewer people are members of organizations or unions in which to help said workers.  But when the LA Times, a fervent anti union paper goes union that is saying that getting one's news on Facebook is a bad plan and we need good news and those willing to research, write and curate said news.   I remember when people thought HuffPo was upending the news game.  Well surprise!  Go Union or go bust!

The Housing and Urban Development another unwieldy Government Agency run by perhaps the most laconic idiot I have seem outside of Nashville is to assist in the development of equal and affordable housing. The plan of late was through grants and tax abatement's that enable developers to buy land at less than market value, or offset property taxes to build units with a guarantee to house those whose incomes are also below market value.  And of course uphold federal law and market tenets when it comes to discrimination regarding applicants for residency.   Or not.

I look at the numerous apartment complexes dotting Nashville's city landscape and the hundereds of tall skinny's that I recall being built across Seattle the last few years.  I live across the street from a future Pod-ment that was an issue of debate in Seattle and San Francisco as a way of alieviating the housing crunch and rent that accompanied it.  I cannot believe anyone would live in them and let alone the one they are building right next to the train crossing.   I live on the other side and the raging horns, the blocked traffic and endless trains passing has made my living here utterly untenable.  I would move but with a year and counting I am out, so why bother.  But I never stop complaining and ranting about it to whomever is in office this week.  I cannot wait to bust a move.

Nashville is a a tourist town and a medical town.  The latter provides decent jobs and long term professional obligations and commitments including wages, the former  Anyone who thinks Millionaires are moving here to set up permanent residence is nuts.  There will always be sports stars and some professional performers who will be obligated to live here but they will do so part time as wandering up and down Broadway to go to one honky tonk after another is really not that exciting. There is nothing else. The Symphony is stellar and again that would make sense given that this is Music City but I don't think I have ever seen anyone of import at a concert.  They don't live here enough to validate a season ticket.  I do go and that is one perk of living here.  Really the only I can think of. Well no the Public Library blows my mind.  But I read here.  Does anyone else? They must as it is an extensive and well supported system.  Well one-third are educated and that is all you need apparently.  Break open a book they are good for you.

Come to Nashville and skip the bars. Go to our Library, see our Symphony and walk through the parks.  The rest is a bust.  

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