How safe do you feel in your city? Turns out it’s not such an easy question to answer as the concept itself differs from person to person – country-dwellers might not consider it possible to define any urban environment as safe, for instance. Last year’s Safer Cities project, commissioned by UN-Habitat with the aim of making urban areas safer to inhabit, gathered together some interesting initiatives with unexpected results – including the use of mime artists to improve road traffic safety in Bogota – yes, really!
Interestingly, the idea of safety isn’t directly related to the incidence of violent crime – terrorism and cybercrime are in the increase as urban areas rely more heavily on tech and systems that govern transport and communications targets for hackers.
The June existing home sales report from the National Association of Realtors showed a pickup in sales to an annualized pace of 5 million for the first time since October of last year. According to Lawrence Yun, NAR Chief Economist, housing fundamentals are moving in the right direction with existing supply helping balance out the market. Even as the housing market improves and prices rise around the country, other economists are worried rising interest rates could derail the nascent recovery. Continue reading →
The number of US homebuyers who signed purchase contracts shot up 6.1% in May, blowing away market expectations. A number of factors may be at work given that home sales are still below 2013’s levels. Economic weakness felt earlier this year was blamed on a harsh winter, so the rebound may be partially rooted in improving economic activity as buyers and sellers thaw out. But given the often local nature of real estate, weather can’t explain everything. Higher mortgage rates in the first quarter also held the market back. As rates decreased over the past few months, buyers became more aggressive. Continue reading →
Headlines are telling us the economic impact of single family housing is subdued because first time home buyers are scarce. Perhaps the pool of single professionals, newlyweds and young families is too focused on fixed rate mortgages. Adjustable rate mortgage products knows as ARMs may be discounted by their baby boomer parents as too risky. But today’s move by the European Central Bank (ECB) to cut rates by -0.10 may indicate that stateside interest rates may not increase for the foreseeable future. The deflation risk affecting central bank policy around the developed world should make an ARM a good choice for first time buyers with plans to move up in coming years. Continue reading →