Here’s your Friday briefing on the housing and economics stories in the news this morning:
- 2009: A ‘Throwaway Year’ for Local Economy | UCLA’s Anderson Forecast for San Diego County, released this morning, labels 2009 a “throwaway year” due to expected double-digit unemployment, rising office space vacancies and further slump in the retail sector, but projects that home prices will hit bottom by the end of the year. The U-T quotes an analyst in Riverside County skeptical of the claim, saying home prices have never gone up at the same time the unemployment rate is rising. Xconomy sums up the report with this: “Don’t expect much in the way of an economic recovery until 2010.”
- Mexican Immigration Down 25 Percent | Mexican census data show an “extraordinary decline” in the number of people emigrating from Mexico to the United States, a trend detailed in this story in The New York Times today. About a quarter-million fewer people left Mexico for other countries in the year that ended last August, compared to the same period a year earlier. That’s a 25 percent decline.
Some researchers attribute the drop to tougher border enforcement. Others say it’s clearly due to the ailing United States economy and the dwindling number of jobs. UCSD’s Wayne Cornelius of the school’s Center for Comparative Immigration Studies was quoted in the story with the latter viewpoint:
Mexicans are “not forgoing migration forever,” Professor Cornelius said. “They are hoping that the economy in the United States will improve.”
- Funding for Long-term Homeless | The United Way will give more than $750,000 to house, rehabilitate and care for the long-term homeless, the U-T reports today.
And a couple more you may have missed this week:
- AG Cracks Down on Alleged Property Tax Scheme | The state attorney general filed charges against two brothers whose property tax reassessment business involved sending deceptive letters to homeowners on official-looking letterhead and demanding payment in exchange for lowered property taxes. The AG seeks $2.5 million in penalties. Read the complaint, filed in San Diego Superior Court this week, or read more from the North County Times’ coverage of the bust. (The brothers named as defendants are Sean and Michael McConville. There is no known blood relation between the defendants, of Simi Valley, and James McConville of Northern California, whose real estate dealings we’ve written quite a bit about.)
- Builders to San Marcos: Put Us to Work | The local BIA lobbied San Marcos’s City Council on Tuesday to spend money on construction and put some builders back to work, the North County Times reported.
- An Even Lower Down Payment for FHA | The U.S. government’s mortgage program through the Federal Housing Administration, commonly known as FHA loans, may be adapted to allow homebuyers to roll in their $8,000 first-time homebuyer tax credit as part of their down payments on a house, instead of waiting until they file their taxes for the credit. More from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and the Wall Street Journal. The FHA loan program already allows homebuyers to make a down payment of just 3.5 percent when buying a home. Critics say that lending homebuyers their tax credits as a short-term loan to use as a down payment could make the FHA program look an awful lot like the often-troublesome zero-down loans the FHA has worked to shut down. I’ve written a bit about the FHA program.
- Homeownership Gains in Minorities Erode Quicker | A report Tuesday from the Pew Hispanic Center found that after growing for a decade, the gains in homeownership have worn away faster among in African-American and U.S.-born Latino populations than among whites. The report also says those gains in homeownership for minority groups in 1995 to 2004 were disproportionately due to subprime loans and looser lending guidelines. More from the NYT and from the LA Times.
And finally, a recap of what I’ve been up to this week, outside of Survival:
- I zoomed in on Oceanside as part of our series, The Neighborhood Market.
- And we brought you the latest installment of our People at Work series, Mary Yankee Peters, stage manager for San Diego Opera productions for 20 years.