Homeownership in Decline
All the bad economic news is adding up to fewer Americans owning their own homes. CNN reported Tuesday that nearly 3 million fewer Americans now own homes compared to the first quarter of 2005, when homeownership peaked at 69.1 percent, according to Census Bureau figures. During the third quarter of 2010, the homeownership rate was down to 66.9 percent, unchanged from a quarter earlier. Moreover, many Americans are renting apartments while homes sit vacant. The single-family home vacancy rate is at 2.5 percent, but the vacancy rate for rental properties has dropped from 10.6 percent to 10.3 percent in the third quarter. The data also confirm that regions with the most affordable home prices have the highest rates of home ownership. In the Midwest, home ownership has declined from 73 percent in 2006 to 71.1 percent; in the South, homeownership has declined from 70.8 percent to 69.9 percent; in the Northeast, it’s down to 63.9 percent from 65.5 percent, and for the West it’s down to 61.3 percent from 65.3 percent. For younger Americans (those under 35), 39.2 percent owned homes last quarter, down from 43.3 percent at the beginning of 2005.
Remembering the Lustron Home
From Michigan the Kalamazoo Gazette brings us a story about a 60-year-old Lustron home made of steel that is still standing strong. After World War II, to help meet the demand to house returning servicemen, the Ohio-based Lustron Corporation started producing homes made of steel with porcelain coated exterior panels, steel framing, interior walls and ceiling. The company shipped all 3,000 components to a building site. The pre-fabricated houses were designed to be maintenance free and were considered to be three times stronger than a traditional stick-built home. They were advertised as rodent proof, fire proof, lightening proof and rustproof. Soap and water were all that was needed to keep them clean. Approximately 2,500 units were produced between 1948 and 1950. According to Wikipedia, The Lustron Corporation declared bankruptcy in 1950, despite being an extremely well-funded, well-publicized, government-supported enterprise manufacturing a desperately needed product. Production delays, the lack of a viable distribution strategy, and the escalating prices for the finished product all contributed to the failure. Additionally, local zoning codes also played a part. In Columbus, for example, an ordinance prohibited homes with steel chimneys.
Clayton Lays Off More than 50 at Texas Plant
Porchfrontnewstexas.com reports that more than 50 employees at a Clayton plant were recently given the pink slip. On November 1, 54 employees at the manufacturing plant is Sulphur Springs were apparently layed off due to the sluggish economy and slow home sales. General Manager Mike Duncan told the reporter the “lay-offs” were direct and indirect manufacturing positions. Employees will be eligible for unemployment benefits and will receive any unpaid vacation time they have credited to their accounts.
Organization Helps Residents Purchase MH Community
From Pathstone.org we learn that Meadow Valley Park, Inc. has purchased the Meadow Valley Manufactured Home Park in Unadilla, New York, creating the first ever resident-owned manufactured home community in the Southern Tier. The $755,000 purchase was financed by ROC USATM Capital, the finance arm of a non-profit social enterprise that supports resident ownership of manufactured home communities across the country.
With the purchase, Meadow Valley residents will have an opportunity to buy a membership in Meadow Valley Park, Inc. and become part owners in their community.
According to the report, the homes in the community will continue to be individually owned by the homeowners, but the land, roads, water and sewer systems and other infrastructure will be cooperatively-owned by homeowners and operated on a non-profit basis. The community was purchased at a foreclosure auction held on September 29. Since June 2009 the community had been managed by its lender, which foreclosed on the previous owner, Pittsford Capital Mobile Home, LP. PathStone Corporation is a community development organization based in Rochester that runs a Manufactured Home Cooperative Program and provided technical assistance to the residents. PathStone is currently working toward resident ownership of several other manufactured home communities across New York and also plans to expand the program into Pennsylvania and Ohio in the coming year.
Modular Building at Fort Bliss Earns LEED Silver Rating
Permanent modular housing at Fort Bliss constructed by Warrior Group has earned LEED Silver Certification from the USGBC, the company reports. The recently completed housing complex in El Paso, Texas encompasses 1.5 million square feet in 34 two-story buildings containing more than 2,000 apartments for unaccompanied enlisted personnel. Warrior Group, a provider of premier construction services for permanent modular and conventional construction, served as the primary subcontractor to deliver the buildings using a “hybrid” construction method, which combines Permanent Modular Construction (PMC) with site-built components. According to Warrior Group, PMC was a key factor for the Fort Bliss UEPH complex, meeting a number of LEED Certification prerequisites and earning a total of 34 points for LEED Silver Certification. “Permanent Modular Construction not only promotes the building of LEED-certified structures, but also helps the building process stay as environmentally-friendly as possible, making it an ideal solution for any government facility,” said Gail Warrior, president and chief executive officer of the Warrior Group.
Home Sales in Victoria, BC, Better, But Still Slow
From the Victoria Times Colonist in Canada, we find that homebuyers there are remaining cautious. Despite low interest rates and plenty of homes on the market, buyers remained cautious as the economy recovers, agents say. Data from by the Greater Victoria Real Estate Board show the number of homes and properties sales sold through the Multiple Listing Service during October hit 467. That was up 18 per cent from the 395 sales in September – and the best sales total since July, but a sharp 37 percent decline from the 742 sales in October of 2009. The number of properties available for sale at the end of October declined to 4,046, but was still 26 percent higher compared to the 3,219 available properties in October last year. Last month’s sales included 252 single family homes, 128 condominiums, 50 townhomes and 15 manufactured homes.
America Goes to Vote, Stocks Climb
Stocks climbed 64 points Tuesday as Americans headed to the polls. The prospect of a Democratic Senate and Republican House makes any additional economic stimulus unlikely, and analysts said the expectation of this was already built into the market. It’s thought that a divided Congress can be good for the economy, but as David Stockman, former Office of Management and Budget director under President Reagan said in a CNBC story, the debt is growing at twice the rate of GDP and we’re going into a new Congress that’ll be totally stalemated. In the near term, the markets are likely to be more interested in an upcoming meeting of the Federal Reserve, which could set off a new round of asset purchases. The Manufactured Housing Composite value moved ahead almost two and a half points Tuesday with specific stocks logging sizeable gains. Penny stock Global Diversified Industries moved ahead 26 percent, Skyline Corporation gained more than six percent, Barnes Group and Universal Forest Products each gained more than three percent while Cavco and Sun Communities rose between two and three percent.