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Readers Respond: Foreclosure solution? Hardly

BY HBSDEALER Staff

An article in yesterday’s Home Channel News Monday described an idea from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to turn government-owned foreclosures into rentals. The idea received a chilly reception from readers.

“In a word, Geithner’s idea is ‘stupid’.

“The economy needs:
1. Reduced taxes
2. Stability in the tax rates
3. Reduced regulation and the size of the federal government
4. Repeal of Obamacare, Sarbanes-Oxley & Dodd-Frank.
5. Increased production of domestic sources of Hydro-Carbon and Nuclear Energy so that the U.S. can be energy self-sufficient.

“Take these five steps and stand back as the whole world puts unprecedented cash to work as investment in the U.S. economy. Jobs and housing come back with a roar!  Bigger earnings will make greater tax revenues to reduce the deficit.

“The downward economic spiral is reversed to upward.”
— Steven Friedel, president
Strategic Brands, Inc.

“The Fed needs to downsize, not grow bigger by being in the rental business. Where will it end?”
— Richard Freund

“I imagine the government won’t be renting those houses out at market rates, and/or the government will subsidize the cost of the rent to the renters in some way.

“It is not hard to believe that in my neighborhood 4,000-sq.-ft. and 5,000-sq.-ft. homes will be subdivided into duplexes. This will then further reduce the value of my home until I’m so upside down that I in turn decide to default and hand my house over to the government. Due to the well-known lower level of home maintenance by both renters and rental owners, many homeowners’ insurance rates may be affected if a larger percentage of homes in the neighborhood are rentals. Plus, some HOAs have limits and/or restrictions on renting. However, these issues are nothing that an executive order can’t remedy. "
— Name withheld

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GreenExpo365.com turns on sustainable building materials

BY Ken Clark

GreenExpo365.com held a live Web event to showcase and educate its users about green building materials earlier this month. The website, dedicated year-round to the green building community, offered an array of resources at the live Web conference, targeted at anyone interested in sustainable building. 

Registered users of the site were able to access a virtual tradeshow, at which representatives from a number of companies were available at virtual “booths” to chat online in an instant messaging format and answer questions about their environmentally friendly products.

The Web event also featured four live webinars on various topics related to choosing green building products by industry experts, including Edward Mazria of Architecture 2030, Alex Wilson of BuildingGreen, Rick Schwolsky of EcoHome Magazine, and Bill Walsh of the Healthy Building Network and the Pharos Project.

Scott Donnelly of GreenExpo365 reported that the August event was quite successful, with a strong turnout both days.

“Our goal is to establish a platform to educate the green building community,” Donnelly said. “We’re looking to get in front of people and tell them what’s going on, to help them build and design better. Sustainability is critical in this industry, but although everyone is talking about how to build with sustainable products, there’s not always an easy place to find that information." 

GreenExpo365 held its first live event in March 2010, and hosts four events of this kind annually. The August event was the third this year; the next is scheduled for November.

GreenExpo365 users can enter exhibitors’ booths at any time and access information posted by the company, such as literature on available products, information about the company’s environmental initiatives and contact information.

GreenExpo365 currently has roughly 10,000 registered users, mainly architects and builders. However, the site’s membership also includes a range of manufacturers, educators, government officials, students, consumers and others interested in sustainable building. The site places great emphasis on social media and interactivity, offering blogs, forums and networking lounges. GreenExpo365 also has a presence on Twitter.

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Housing starts in July slip 1.5%

BY Ken Clark

Compared with June’s housing start report, there is less to cheer about in the Tuesday morning release from the Department of Commerce and U.S. Census Bureau.

The seasonally adjusted annual rate of housing starts slipped to 604,000 in July. But that’s still up 9.8% from the July 2010 rate of 550,000. Another possible positive indicator: June and July marked the first two-month stretch of a pace higher than 600,000 since March and April of 2010.

Single-family housing starts in July were at a rate of 425,000, a 4.9% decline from June. Single-family homes are also down compared with a year ago, when July 2010 starts were at a pace of 429,000.

On a regional basis, the Northeast showed the strongest month-to-month performance — up 34.7% in total starts, and up 7.5% in single-family homes. The bleakest stats emerged from the Midwest region, which was down 37.7% compared with June in total starts, and down 22.6% in single-family starts.

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