Saturday, April 29, 2006

Existing Home Sales

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) released their data for Existing Home Sales in March. NAR reported:

Sales of existing homes edged up in March following a strong rebound in February, according to the National Association of Realtors®.

Total existing-home sales – including single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops – rose 0.3 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate1 of 6.92 million units in March from a pace of 6.90 million in February, but were 0.7 percent below a 6.97 million-unit level in March 2005.

David Lereah, NAR’s chief economist, said sales are leveling out. “It’s a good sign to see home sales holding close to the level of a strong rebound in the month before,” he said. “This is additional evidence that we’re experiencing a soft landing. We may see some minor slowing in home sales as interest rates rise, but the market clearly is stabilizing.” Lereah expects 2006 to be the third strongest year on record for home sales.”

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Gas & Housing

Mortgage News Daily presented the following points in their commentary: The Effects Of High Gas Prices On The Housing Market:

* Could revitalize urban areas as the cost of commuting outpaces the higher cost of housing in city centers.
* Will place more pressure on city workforce housing issues.
* Will cause the Fed to continue to raise the federal funds rate, tempering prices further as mortgage rates rise.
* Will increase cost of construction materials and labor. These are already stressed due to the high demand and inadequate supply situation the market is currently experiencing.

There is the possibility that Americans will be shocked with the discovery that more expensive oil is here to stay and decide that significant changes in lifestyle are immediately called for. If as a result, consumers make sudden changes in plans for spending on such things as cars, durable goods, and vacations, vendors of those products may find themselves left in the lurch. This does not bode well for housing, especially investor and second home markets. But it helps explain why towns with easy access to reliable mass transit continue to see an influx of buyers.

Meanwhile, to keep tabs on the cheapest towns to gas up:

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Flood Insurance May Dry Up

The Passaic River roars through Little Falls.
Yet new developments continue to be planned on flood plains.

From Monday's Star Ledger:
Repeatedly Flooded Properties Targeted
Insurance overhaul likely to Affect Thousands in N.J.

Star-Ledger Staff

Concerned about the solvency of the National Flood Insurance Program, federal lawmakers are poised to slap new restrictions on some of New Jersey's most valuable real estate: thousands of flood-prone homes that sit along barrier islands and rivers.

Legislation likely to be introduced in the coming weeks will target "repetitive-loss" structures across the country, congressional officials said. Possible solutions include buying and demolishing homes that flood repeatedly, stripping them of insurance coverage or greatly raising premiums.

Congress, which today returns from a two-week break, has been forced to remake the controversial flood insurance program in the wake of hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma. The devastating storms plunged the program into a $20 billion-plus deficit and few experts believe the program can recover without a massive overhaul.

In New Jersey, which has one of the nation's worst records on repetitive claims, legislative changes would affect 7,376 structures. The state's 7,376 flood-prone buildings represent less than 4 percent of the 200,000 properties covered by the program but account for more than 50 percent of the claims paid since 1978, amounting to $334.2 million, according to federal data.

Roughly 2,700 of New Jersey's flood-prone structures are on the barrier islands off Atlantic and Cape May counties. About 1,000 are on the flood-prone rivers of the Passaic River basin, mostly in Morris and Passaic counties.

In interviews, residents of these vulnerable neighborhoods say they worry about becoming the focus of debate and argue it would be unfair to punish them for decisions made decades ago when their houses were built.

"What are you going to do, level the houses here?" said Gordon Araujo, a union electrician who moved to the bayside of Ocean City five years ago. "These houses didn't go up in the last 15 years. They've been here since the 1800s."

Critics of coastal development argue a decade-long building boom has put billions of dollars worth of real estate in harm's way. They say New Jersey is overdue for a destructive, catastrophically expensive storm, and they point to the flood insurance program as being responsible.

"These spikes in repetitive damage are created by flood insurance itself," said Tim Dillingham of the American Littoral Society, a coastal environmental group based on Sandy Hook. "It pays people to rebuild in the same spot. It's crazy."

Officials with the flood insurance program, however, point out the worst properties were built decades before the insurance program was created in 1968 -- putting reformers in the politically unpalatable position of forcing people out of their houses.

"We have not had a good nor'easter or tropical storm yet that tests these things," said Jim Fox, emergency management coordinator in West Wildwood. "But the local codes are very, very strict. They should hold up."

Critics like Jeff Tittel of the state Sierra Club aren't impressed.

"The next storm is going to turn those raised buildings into house boats," he said. "We have a misguided belief that we can engineer our way out of disaster. We can't."

New Jersey passed a $30 million bond for that purpose in 1995, designating $15 million for the Passaic River basin and $15 million for the Shore.

Today, $21 million has been spent, with $9 million banked to buy shorefront properties that lose at least 50 percent of their value in the next big storm.

The $15 million set aside for riverine flooding paid for 125 houses in Wayne, Pompton Lakes, Little Falls, Lincoln Park and Fairfield, but the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says 800 more structures remain in harm's way. In 1994, it estimated the cost of buying them all at $200 million.

FEMA, meanwhile, has targeted 1,115 New Jersey structures as the most flood-prone. All have had four or more $1,000-plus claims or two or more claims that, together, exceed the current value of the structure.

Only two states, Louisiana and Texas, have more of these "severe repetitive loss" properties.

The corps recently announced plans to buy 135 of the most flood-prone houses in Wayne and Pompton Lakes and hoped to begin purchases earlier this year. But funding all but evaporated after Katrina hit.

Almost all those houses were in Hoffman Grove, a tiny section of Wayne along the Pompton River that was founded as a summer colony a century ago. It remains isolated today, with a 10-foot railroad berm on one side and the river wrapping around the other.

Many residents want the buyout, according to town officials, but in the past they were ineligible because an association owned their land. It has since been subdivided and passed to homeowners.

"We want to provide relief to the residents," said George Holzapfel, Wayne's director of public works. "Many of them want to get out. It floods almost every year. They are trapped out there."

Steve Chambers covers land-use issues. He may be reached at or (973) 392-1674.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Lawn Doctor

Map courtesy Cristina Milesi, NASA Ames Research Center

As people convert natural landscapes to human-tailored ones, we change the cycling of water and carbon dramatically. Across the United States, water supplies are under increasing pressure as populations grow. Forests and soils that were once a sink for atmospheric carbon can become sources as the natural landscapes are disturbed.

Among the human-tailored landscapes that influence carbon and water cycles in America are lawns. This color-coded map shows satellite-derived estimates of the fractional turf grass (lawn) area across the United States in shades of green. Areas where a large fraction of the land surface is lawn-covered are deepest green, while locations where the lawns cover a very small (or no) fraction of the land surface are lightest green or white.

The map shows how common lawns are across the country, despite a wide variability of climate and soils. Indeed, the scientists who produced the map estimate that more surface area is devoted to lawns than to any other single irrigated crop in the country. For example, lawns appear to cover more than three times the number of acres that irrigated corn covers.

To read more about how NASA-funded scientists developed this map and used it to estimate the impact of lawns on America’s water and carbon cycles, please read Looking for Lawns in the Earth Observatory:

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Chicken Little May Have a Point

The ongoing purpose of Earth Day is to get people involved in saving the flora & fauna from ultimate extinction due to pollution and global warming. Meanwhile, evidence of global warming increases each year while more species are added to the endangered list. This Mass Extinction site may seem alarmist, but its approx. 200 links give documentation for each scary headline.

Friday, April 21, 2006

An Earth Day With Rain Delays

It may not be a total washout weekend since less rain is forcast for Sunday than Saturday. Of course you should double check the contact info to make sure the events haven't been cancelled:

Saturday, April 22, 2006 (Rain Date: Sunday, April 23)
TITLE OF EVENT: NJDEP Division of Parks and Forestry "EARTH DAY" CHALLENGE
COUNTY: Various
TIME(S): Various
LOCATION: 17 different sites!!! (See website link for complete details)
COST: Free
AUDIENCE: General Public
CONTACT: Various
DESCRIPTION: Whether you help clear a trail, plant a tree, or clean up the beaches – your efforts make a difference in helping to improve the environment. Spend the day in your favorite park and join your friends and neighbors in keeping New Jersey’s state parks beautiful.
This is also a perfect opportunity for service hours for organizations and scouting groups.
Participants should:
Pre-register with the area office.
Wear clothing appropriate for working outdoors.
Bring bottled water and a lunch.
PHONE#: Various

DATE: April, 22 2006
TITLE OF EVENT: Earth Day Celebration
COUNTY: Morris
TIME(S): 11 a.m. - 4 p.m.
LOCATION: Pyramid Mountain Natural Historic Area, Montville, NJ
AUDIENCE: All ages
CONTACT: Jenny Gaus, Great Swamp Outdoor Education Center
DESCRIPTION: Celebrate Earth Day at one of the Park CommissionÆs premiere natural areas! The day will include hikes, games, live animal demonstrations, and more!
PHONE#: 973-334-3130 or 973-635-6629

DATE: April 22nd
TITLE OF EVENT: Earth Day Celebration
COUNTY: Bergen
TIME(S): 10am- 2pm
LOCATION: Wild Birds Unlimited 189 Route 17 South Paramus Nj 07074
COST: None
AUDIENCE: Everyone
CONTACT: Don Torino
DESCRIPTION: Sales on Recycled feeders, presentations by Bergen Audubon, Master Gardeners of bergen county , Native plants
PHONE#: 201-896-0331

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Council Meetings Online? Why Not?

Here's a novel idea. Why can't Town Council and Board of Ed meetings be available online for downloading? Does any township in NJ do it? We found this California town in the news yesterday with a population about the same size as Bloomfield and an income similar to Montclair. Their council chambers appear much like Montclair's except you can hear every word. Another online plus is that you can click to the section of the agenda that interests you the most.

Check out the speaker in the public comments section. You may recognize him.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Cool Home Tour

Our President won't take the lead on fighting global warming, but you can! There are very simple things you can do to make your home and lifestyle more energy efficient; in fact, it can be as easy as changing a light bulb.

Walk through a real house on our Cool Home Tour with Sierra magazine's answer man, Mr. Green, and you'll learn how to have a "cool" house, save money, and help chip away at a problem facing us all. Download Mr. Green's Cool Home Checklist and tour your own abode to see what you're doing right and where you have room to improve. It's a great way to celebrate Earth Day.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Zillow 1.1 has just turned on another feature that will probably draw more people to the real estate price-appraisal site. Type in an address for New York City, San Francisco, Boston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles or Seattle and you’ll get an aerial shot of the property, but at a 45-degree angle so you can see the building.
“The images are different from any other sites. You are not getting a rooftop view,” said Spencer Rascoff, chief financial officer and vice president of marketing. “You can see the architectural style, the paint color, how close the house sits to the street,”

The pictures come from a Microsoft partner, Pictometry, one of the world’s largest digital, oblique aerial photography companies. The company said the bird’s eye images will be shown alongside satellite and street maps.

Meanwhile, the company said it now displays information on 65.2 million homes and has price estimates for 47 million of them.

How many of those are vaguely accurate? That’s been the big complaint about the site, even as it has become an online voyeuristic pleasure palace. Mr. Rascoff said the company has improved the algorithm for the My Zestimate, in which a person can correct the data to account for improvements. The original Zestimate algorithm is still a work in progress. He said the problems they have are mostly due to inaccurate data and they are gradually improving that with more data sources.

Zillow is also planning to let homeowners correct the data later this year once they figure out a surefire way to verify that the corrections are reliable. — D.Darlin
NY Times

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Gray is Back and Bloomfield’s Got Him!

Montclair’s Environmental Coordinator, Gray Russell, has just returned from his 3 month fellowship in the UK to study alternative energy programs. This Tuesday at 7:00--like Moses returning from the mountains--Gray will lead off a panel on Renewable Energy at Bloomfield’s Civic Center, 84 Broad St. Also on the panel are Michelle Cuillierer from The NJ Sierra Club, and Susanne Leta from NJPIRG. From the Essex Greens' Press release: ...wind, solar power and ethanol are catching on more and more. As gas prices rise, wind and solar are economically competitive, a way to save money while saving our environment. For more info call 973-338-5398.
Mr. Russell was guest speaker at a Bloomfield Neighborhood Association meeting in 2005

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Property Taxes: How does your town compare?

When it comes to property taxes, making comparisons across towns in New Jersey is no simple matter. To help shed light on the subject, The Star-Ledger is producing a series of articles and interactive features on various aspects of the property tax system.

This page is home to the statistical tools created for this project. Here you will be able to examine the relationship between taxing and spending in your town and how your town compares to others. You will also find interactive tools dealing with special subjects -- such as the impact of property tax revaluations on local tax levies.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Rates go Higher--Along with Incomes

Mortgage Rates
as of April 14:

30 Year Fixed: 6.49%

15 Year Fixed: 6.14%

1 Year Adj: 5.61%

According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), home sales should level out and remain at historically high levels in 2006. Existing-home sales will drop 6 percent to 6.65 million from a record 7.08 million in 2005. New-home sales will fall 10.9 percent to 1.14 million from the record 1.28 million last year. Both sectors would see the third-best year following 2005 and 2004. For more information on NAR economic forecast data, go to HousingForecastApril06.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

River to River

Third River from Woodland St, Bloomfield. Photo by Geoff Gove from "Bloomfield's Last Wilderness"

We try not to run our river stories back to back but todays NJ Supreme court ruling could have a dramatic effect in curtailing new development projects throughout much of the state. From the Star Ledger:

Court Upholds Water Rules that Limit Growth

A state appeals court today upheld tough water protection regulations against a challenge by the New Jersey Builders Association, which claimed they illegally hamper development.

The builders argued lawmakers never empowered the state Department of Environmental Protection to establish 300-foot “no-build zones” around the state’s most pristine waterways, effectively putting an estimated 300,000 acres off limits to construction.

The three-judge appeals court disagreed, ruling the DEP has that authority under a number of laws, beginning with one passed in 1981 empowering it to “regulate storm water management.”

“The Legislature, in a variety of measures, has given the DEP a wide array of power to address water quality and pollution concerns beyond traditional floodwater control, and to promulgate rules to protect the waters of this state,” the appeals court wrote.

The ruling was a victory for environmentalists and former Gov. James E. McGreevey, who announced the tough rules during a January 2004 news conference. While he said the goal was to “protect the quality of our water supply,” he candidly admitted the regulations were also intended to combat sprawl.

“Part of it is, I don’t want a million new homes in New Jersey,” McGreevey said. He was referring to an oft-repeated estimate that a million residents will move into the Garden State over the next 20 years.

Appellate Division Judge Anthony J. Parrillo wrote the ruling and was joined by Judges Jack Lintner and John S. Holston Jr.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Gone Fishin

Excerpted from The Herald News, Apr. 9, 2006
By Gregory J. Rummo

If you drove by any of New Jersey's streams yesterday you may have
noticed gaggles of anglers congregating along the riverbanks. Trout
season opened on Saturday and, as always here in our state where the
fishing is mostly "put-and-take," everyone and his grandmother was
decked out in neoprene, standing elbow-to-elbow in the water, trying
to catch a trout by any of several methods including salmon eggs,
worms, spinners, baitfish and artificial flies.

In most years, Opening Day is more of a ritual than an opportunity to
actually enjoy fishing. It's usually still pretty chilly, fallingshortly after spring's arrival. But nonetheless, it offers anopportunity to get out of the house, where we've been held captive by the elements for the last four months and subjected to shorter hours of daylight.

By May, the crush has subsided. The weather has also warmed and the
trees are starting to leaf out and are filled with warblers, Baltimore
Orioles and other songbirds. It is during this period that the purists
emerge: Those anglers, who believe the best and the only method of
catching the trout is with the artificial fly.

Prior to the Civil War, the Catskills were covered with old-growth forests consisting predominately of hemlocks. These evergreens kept the mountains cool during the summer and their roots held the soil in place.

Vast stands of these majestic trees were clear cut and stripped of their bark. With the shade gone and nothing to
hold back the soil, the rivers of the Catskills warmed and became silted. The native brook trout, a species sensitive to changes in the environment, was driven to extinction in all but the tiniest brooks and creeks at the highest elevations. Populations have never fullyrecovered to this day.

Throughout the 20th century, fly fishing techniques were further
refined, giving rise to a new breed of angler-environmentalists. A
full creel of dead trout no longer was the measure of a successful day
spent on the stream. The focus shifted to learning about the trout's
habitat, the aquatic insects upon which they fed and developing an
acute sensitivity to any environmental threat that could affect
adversely the water quality of the rivers and streams in which the
trout lived. "Catch and release" was practiced on many streams,
ensuring that there would be enough trout for others to enjoy.

I'd like to believe that such a holistic approach to angling would be sufficient to kindle an environmental awareness of the importance of our water resources. We have had more than 100 years to learn from our mistakes when the hallowed streams fished by Gordon were almost destroyed by men bent on plundering the earth's natural resources.

The Pequannock River is a lovely trout stream flowing along the border
of Passaic and Morris Counties. In addition to receiving regular
stockings of rainbow and brook trout, the river nurtures a population
of wild brown trout. The lower portion is a miracle of sorts, tumbling
over algae-slicked rocks as it flows past dumpsters and strip malls
through the suburban hamlets of Bloomingdale, Butler and Riverdale.

But the bigger problem for the Pequannock and its population of wild brown trout is not cosmetic. There's a battle raging over the quality of the water itself.

Ross Kushner is the executive director of the Pequannock River coalition. During the past 10 years, his organization has become concerned about elevated water temperatures in the river which caused a substantial fish kill in 1994 and a less-severe kill in 2002. The organization initiated a temperature monitoring program in 1994 to determine the sources and extent of these problems. Based on the data, several portions of the Pequannock River and several Pequannock River
tributaries were listed as "impaired" for temperature in 2002 and 2004 by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. Additional study by the NJDEP confirmed that lack of sufficient river flow resulting from insufficient water releases from Newark-owned reservoirs is the cause of almost 80 percent of the river's temperature problems.

In August 2004, the NJDEP issued new permit requirements for Newark in its diversion permit for the Pequannock River, including requirements for minimum river flows, both between the city's reservoirs and below their reservoir system that feeds the lower river.

During the summer of 2005, the Pequannock River virtually disappeared
in some places due to a complete lack of water releases from Newark-
owned reservoirs. "Zero flow rate[s] w[ere] seen on the lower
Pequannock without a declared drought," Kushner said. "Also,
temperatures recorded in the lower Pequannock last summer were higher
than any we have measured in the past, topping out at nearly 80

The native brook trout of the Catskills were almost driven to extinction during the 1800s by the tannin lords. Will the wild brown trout of the Pequannock suffer a similar fate at the hands of the water lords in Newark?

It's spring now. The weather is cool and there's plenty of water. But summer is coming. Kushner sounds a defiant note: "We insist that the time for action has come. I'm certain we will win in the end. The question is, will the DEP come through on their own, or do we need to haul them into court for failing to meet their obligations?"

Gregory J. Rummo is a businessman, author and syndicated columnist.
Copyright 2006 North Jersey Media Group Inc.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Montclair Gets Another Dis' -- in Belleville

Montclair just can't get any respect these days.
NJ Monthly recently dumped it well down into it's second hundred desirible NJ towns(191 to Maplewood's 38)mainly because of it's skyrocketing home prices. Now we have a major townhome development going up at Belleville & Franklin Aves. What's in a name? Called Essex Park by Centex Homes, "a collection of 262 stacked townhomes." There's no mention that it faces Branchbrook Park. Too Newark? A major selling point is it's proximity to"The Glen Ridge Train Station, Glen Ridge, is approx. 2 miles from Essex Park."Don't look at the two stations in Bloomfield you pass on the way. The home styles are rated by price,from 352k to 464k, Montclair is 3rd rate behind Davenport & Granville.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

The Micro-MacMansion Movement

Gregory Johnson's "mobile hermitage" in Iowa City, Iowa. (Courtesy of Gregory Johnson)

From The Columbia News Service:
When Gregory Johnson says he lives in a tiny house, he’s not kidding. His entire house--an attractive chalet with a bed, bathroom, dining room table and kitchen--is just 7 feet wide and 10 feet long.

“On vacation most people would love to go and live in some little cottage somewhere, a one-room sparsely furnished facility,” said Johnson, who lives in Iowa City. “Nobody ever thinks to live like that on a day-to-day basis. But what I do is, I try to live every day as though it’s a vacation.”

As the American landscape is increasingly peppered with overgrown palaces that many call “McMansions,” homeowners like Johnson have opted for the opposite extreme. These houses aren’t just small, they’re tiny. And unlike the denizens of cramped apartments in cities, the inhabitants of tiny houses choose to live in them not despite, but because of their miniature size.

Homeowners like Johnson share that frustration and prefer to live in houses without an inch of unused space. Bigger than a child’s playhouse but much smaller than a typical Manhattan studio apartment, the house the 41-year-old built and has lived in since 2003 features metal roofing, exposed stud interior walls and red oak flooring.

The house, which is on wheels and is parked in the backyard of his parents’ house, has been dubbed the “mobile hermitage.” It has electricity and running water, but he chooses not to use them. Instead, he showers at his job each morning and lights the place at night with the LED light from the front of his bicycle. The house has high ceilings and a sleeping loft, which make it feel more spacious, he says.

Johnson, a technology consultant, is the founder of the Small House Society, which has a small but growing mailing list of more than 200, including architecture firms and urban planners. The group’s monthly e-mail newsletter offers tips on everything from housing code battles to homeowners insurance, two common stumbling blocks for enthusiasts.

Many owners of tiny houses are driven by a commitment to preserve the environment. Fewer building materials, they point out, mean reduced building waste. And because the houses are easier (and cheaper) to heat than typical homes, reduced energy usage means decreased greenhouse gas emissions.

“I get claustrophobic in big houses if they’re poorly designed or too crowded,” said Jay Shafer, who started the Tumbleweed Tiny House Co. and helped Johnson build his little house after building his own 70-square-foot home in 1997. “But I don’t get claustrophobic in a small house as long as it’s well made, unless there are too many people inside.”

Tiny houses actually predate McMansions. Henry David Thoreau lived in a house near Walden Pond in Massachusetts that was just 150 square feet.

For others, the draw of tiny houses is far more practical. They can provide a housing alternative when there are no other options.Because they’re built to last and can be set on property later as a guest cottage, the houses, which start at $37,000, will appreciate in value, unlike a trailer.

It’s the anti-FEMA trailer.

Monday, April 03, 2006


The condo goldrush is reaching epic proportions in Bloomfield with at least 10 major condo/townhouse/Apt. complexes at various stages of planning -- or recently approved -- by the Planning and/or Zoning Board, most have had major issues raised in opposition by community groups and residents. You may note from our exclusive Bloomfield map above that most are adjacent to The Second & Third Rivers or its tributaties.
Two of the more controversial plans, Church St. and Brookdale School, are scheduled to come before the Zoning Board this Thursday starting at 7:30. A large turnout is expected.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Build Them and They Will Come

The media is feeding the condo frenzy in this area with stories such as "A Suburban Switch: the Condo's the Thing" in a special supplement to this Sunday's Times.

Here's an excerpt:

For decades, ornate homes with lush yards and multicar garages have been staples of suburban life and the objects of desire of countless families yearning for better schools, safer streets and greener environs far from the city. But as the scarcity of vacant land drove prices to stratospheric highs and many outlying communities began to impose restrictions to curb sprawl, builders trained their eyes on urban neighborhoods.

There they can still buy old or abandoned property at market value, tear it down and replace it with condos, which can be as fancy as a McMansion and as spacious as a single-family home. Though the properties at the high end are not cheap, they typically cost less than a house of comparable luxury and are easier to maintain.

"People that used to be able to afford a 1,200- or 1,500-square-foot home in the suburbs are still moving to the suburbs, but buying a 1,200- or 1,500-square-foot condo instead," said Tim Cashel, a division manager at Baker Residential, a developer in Pleasantville, N.Y., that is building two condominium communities in Bayonne, N.J., a long-neglected city on the Hudson River waterfront.

"Condos have become the new starter home for a lot of these folks," Mr. Cashel said. "But because some of these condos are so posh and so close to the city, they have also become a retirement home for many other people who were already living in the suburbs, but were looking to trade their mansions for a smaller place."

Developers, spotting an opportunity, have been investing in condo construction at a feverish pace. According to the Crittenden Builders Report, a trade publication, the number of new multifamily condo and town house projects increased by about 50 percent nationwide between 2004 and last year.

Much of the new construction has sprouted in urban communities that developers bypassed when they blazed new frontiers deep in the suburbs. Local officials enticed them with tactics like tax incentives, selling public property for a fraction of the price and easing the approval of construction permits. In return, the developers promised to fatten municipal coffers with property tax revenues.

Saturday, April 01, 2006