Monthly Archives: September 2012

IU student Linden Whitt dies after fall from balcony during party

By Abby Tonsing

An Indiana University student died Saturday after she and another IU student fell from a balcony during a party at an apartment early Friday morning.

Linden Whitt, 20, died from spinal cord injuries in her neck at 4:55 p.m. Saturday at IU Health Bloomington Hospital, Monroe County Coroner Nicole Meyer confirmed. No autopsy will be conducted, but results from toxicology tests are pending, Meyer said.

Whitt and 20-year-old Joseph Lao were both taken to the hospital after they fell from a balcony during a party.

Whitt was a sophomore from Mishawaka and her parents were with her at the hospital Saturday, according to university spokesman Mark Land.

She was a 2010 graduate of Penn High School in Mishawaka.

Emergency responders were called to the 1300 block of North Lincoln Street at 2:59 a.m. Friday after a report that two people had fallen from a balcony, according to Bloomington police Lt. Bill Parker.

Witnesses directed police to Whitt, who was lying on the ground near a deck, where the two had fallen an estimated 6 to 8 feet from a balcony at 1385 N. Lincoln St. Police found Lao leaning against a wall underneath a nearby balcony at 1335 N. Lincoln St., according to Capt. Joe Qualters.

Officers supported Whitt’s neck and started CPR as firefighters and medics arrived, Parker said.

One witness told police that Lao had been sitting and leaning against a railing, and that Whitt was standing in front of Lao and leaning against him. This witness reported hearing a crash in the bushes below the deck, and said that nobody knew exactly why the two fell, Parker said.

A second witness told police that no one else was standing near Lao and Whitt at the time of the fall. This witness said Lao lost his balance, and as the two went over the railing, they twisted as though they were attempting to break their fall, Parker said.

Whitt was the first to hit the ground, this male witness told police, and Lao fell on top of her.

He told police that when he went to check on her, she was responsive at first and moved her shoulders.

A third witness, who said that he is certified in CPR, told police that he was inside the apartment during the party at the time of the accident and went downstairs to check on the two injured people. He reported helping Lao get off of Whitt, so he could assist Whitt.

Four police officers took witness statements and interviewed people at the party. Parker could not provide an estimate as to how many people were at the apartment at the time of the gathering.

Lao told officers he had been consuming vodka, Parker said. Police issued no citations at the party.

Hospital officials did not have information on Lao’s condition Saturday afternoon.

Correction:  The balcony that had been shown in photos attached to an earlier version of this story was not where the students fell, but showed where Joseph Lao was moved after the accident. The accident happened nearby, on a lower balcony.

 

Atlanta Connection for Real Estate and Rehab needs

Just wanted to put this out there, I hooked up with an awesome connection in the Atlanta market. Team Kendrick, which Jim has been a huge help in the New York market has now opened up in the Atlanta market and it’s run by Jim’s son Joe. I needed boots on the ground for inspection of a property and they were there the next day.

They have been buying and rehabbing properties in the New York market since the 70′s and have now brought that experience to the GA markets. If you need any help with real estate in Atlanta and surrounding areas please check them out at http://www.jameslkendrickgeneralcontractor.com/.

 

 

Multifamily Finance Issues at Stake in the Upcoming Election

By Brad Berton - Apartment Finance Today Magazine

What’s at stake for the apartment industry with the November election soon upon us and the 113th Congress getting to work in January? Given the paucity of even lip service that President Obama and Republican Mitt Romney have paid to the housing crisis along the campaign trail, it’s a pretty tough prognostication. But industry advocates targeting key decision makers in both parties are offering some insight—ranging from sobering to encouraging. A variety of issues will face the Congress—should it choose to act on them—among them government-sponsored enterprise (GSE) reform; tax reform, including the low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC); various federal subsidy programs; and several capital-markets regulations, such as those involving commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS). While it’s doubtful either party will have a sufficient Senate majority to ramrod through truly controversial legislation, wide-ranging tax-related reforms will no doubt “all be on the table,” observes Michael Berman, immediate past chairman of the Mortgage Bankers Association and former president and CEO of CWCapital. All of which creates quite a diplomacy challenge for the industry’s chief lobbying body, the Joint Legislative Program of the National Multi Housing Council (NMHC) and the National Apartment Association. Indeed, NMHC president Doug Bibby must delicately garner support for industry positions from one party aiming to cut subsidies that help the sector, and from the other party likely to tax more of its high earners’ profits. “Each of these approaches presents its own issues for the apartment sector, and our response is to adapt as best we can either way,” Bibby explains. If Romney wins and the GOP retains control of at least one congressional body, Bibby’s job will become tougher. After all, public-sector participation clearly benefits the apartment sector but runs counter to prevailing Republican philosophy. “There’s a group of people who don’t like having the government in the housing business and want to cut back on this kind of funding,” Bibby ­acknowledges. Berman puts it more bluntly: “If they’re willing to go after Medicare and Medicaid, it’s hard to believe they’d support Sec. 8 and ­LIHTC.” Then again, greater Republican control would reduce the likelihood that apartment moguls would get soaked by higher taxes. As veteran multifamily investment manager Jerry Fink is quick to point out, Romney earned his fortune in private equity and hence seems far less likely than a Democrat to push for treatment of carried interest as ordinary income rather than capital gains. “That’s probably why he doesn’t want to show his tax returns,” quips Fink, managing partner of Irvine, Calif.–based Bascom Group. Fink and his co-principals fear that a switch to ordinary-income rates for what real estate investors refer to as “promoted interest” would essentially double their tax obligations. “It’s the single biggest potential threat to our profitability going forward,” Fink says, adding that a lame-duck Obama presidency could become “the worst nightmare” for entrepreneurs relying on promote-centric income. But if the free-market crowd is ultimately able to reduce Sec. 8 rental-assistance allocations, the impact could be “disastrous” for low- and moderate-income residents, especially, and for their landlords in the noncoastal markets where demand for market-rate units remains relatively soft, Fink says. The same scenario follows for would-be developers in secondary and tertiary markets if Sec. 221(d)(4) and related Federal Housing Administration mortgage insurance programs are diminished. GSE Reform The latter part of the next congressional term will likely witness contentious debates over the long-term fates of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Industry insiders eagerly anticipate a spinning out of the two GSEs’ multifamily finance operations into private businesses—hopefully with some public credit-enhancement of apartment-backed mortgage securities. While experts generally agree that Democrats are more likely than their GOP counterparts to support a spin-off of the GSEs’ critical (and highly profitable) multifamily programs, they’re not holding their breaths anticipating that Congress will take meaningful action on GSE reform. When GSE legislation is addressed, Berman expects the “fragile” single-family sector, rather than the multifamily operations that continue generating federal revenues, to dominate the focus. “So as desirable as a multifamily spin-off of some sort may be, it seems unlikely in the near term,” Berman says. Bibby notes that the NMHC/NAA Joint Legislative Program (JLP) isn’t advocating that any specific structure underlie the ultimate fate of Fannie’s and Freddie’s multifamily divisions, but the JLP does continue to lobby for a “separate solution” from single-family activities. Bibby is also concerned about any near-term efforts to eliminate explicit federal backing of GSE multifamily securities issues, for fear of “spooking” the investor marketplace. Taxation Issues The industry consensus appears to be that a Republican leadership would be less likely to pursue higher rates for high-income investors and operators than would a Democratic leadership, particularly where carried interest is concerned. In contrast to the unclear timetable for GSE action, the 113th Congress seems almost certain to take up tax-related issues as part of the great debate over the federal government’s role and budget proceeds. And this will almost certainly include taxation-related proposals with meaningful implications for the multifamily sector, perhaps including interest deductibility, the LIHTC program, and other topics. While Bibby acknowledges that many in the industry would welcome a simpler federal tax code with fewer deductions and credits—wouldn’t we all?—the JLP’s general position with respect to taxation rates is “stand pat.” The lobby opposes any increases in current federal income-tax rates for carried interest or partnership income and, of course, any changes to business-interest deductibility. Subsidy Programs Under a turn to the right, key programs supporting the multifamily sector—FHA mortgage insurance, Sec. 8 rental assistance, and even the LIHTC—could potentially see allocations reined in as Republicans look to cut spending and streamline revenues by targeting entitlements and tax expenditures. After all, it’s no secret that a lot of antigovernment, antitax Republicans demonstrate far more hostility than do Democrats toward public subsidies of apartment production and rental assistance, not to mention continued taxpayer guarantees of mortgage securities. And Romney’s selection of Tea Party darling Paul Ryan, the Wisconsiner who chairs the House of Representatives’ powerful Budget Committee, doesn’t exactly diminish that perception. The industry will likewise continue to educate legislators about just how important key federal programs are to apartment sector interests—and to low- and moderate-income Americans. In addition to permanent retention of the LIHTC program, this agenda includes continued funding of Sec. 8 programs, FHA insurance programs, and other initiatives that support production and help tenants pay rent. Capital Markets Late 2013 should see more serious efforts to return liquidity to the semi-stalled CMBS arena, as lobbyists push regulators and legislators to at least temporarily ease risk-retention and other rules proposed as part of the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. As NMHC vice president of capital markets David Cardwell stresses, the industry is pushing for rules that don’t unduly boost securitization costs and that promote, rather than impede, ­liquidity to apartment properties via conduit lenders. Several underwriting thresholds have been proposed that would exempt securitized mortgages from risk-retention requirements. But industry leaders prefer maximum appraised loan-to-value ratios of 70 percent to 75 percent rather than the proposed 55 percent to 60 percent, along with a minimum debt coverage ratio of 1.35x (based on historical in-place income) rather than the proposed 1.70x. Cardwell also points out that these recommendations are more conservative than seen even with the GSEs’ proven underwriting. The industry also prefers rules allowing for retained-risk positions to be reduced after three to five years if mortgages perform as underwritten and pass follow-up credit-rating agency reviews. Another proposed requirement would include the escrowing of sales proceeds of the safest bond classes to be held as reserves against potential bondholder losses, which the JLP also opposes. Such a rule would tend to diminish CMBS issuance, since those proceeds are a significant component of how issuers earn their profits, Cardwell explains. Bascom’s Fink, for his part, acknowledges that during boom times, risk-retention requirements for CMBS issuers migWhat’s at stake for the apartment industry with the November election soon upon us and the 113th Congress getting to work in January? Given the paucity of even lip service that President Obama and Republican Mitt Romney have paid to the housing crisis along the campaign trail, it’s a pretty tough prognostication. But industry advocates targeting key decision makers in both parties are offering some insight—ranging from sobering to encouraging. A variety of issues will face the Congress—should it choose to act on them—among them government-sponsored enterprise (GSE) reform; tax reform, including the low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC); various federal subsidy programs; and several capital-markets regulations, such as those involving commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS). While it’s doubtful either party will have a sufficient Senate majority to ramrod through truly controversial legislation, wide-ranging tax-related reforms will no doubt “all be on the table,” observes Michael Berman, immediate past chairman of the Mortgage Bankers Association and former president and CEO of CWCapital. All of which creates quite a diplomacy challenge for the industry’s chief lobbying body, the Joint Legislative Program of the National Multi Housing Council (NMHC) and the National Apartment Association. Indeed, NMHC president Doug Bibby must delicately garner support for industry positions from one party aiming to cut subsidies that help the sector, and from the other party likely to tax more of its high earners’ profits. “Each of these approaches presents its own issues for the apartment sector, and our response is to adapt as best we can either way,” Bibby explains. If Romney wins and the GOP retains control of at least one congressional body, Bibby’s job will become tougher. After all, public-sector participation clearly benefits the apartment sector but runs counter to prevailing Republican philosophy. “There’s a group of people who don’t like having the government in the housing business and want to cut back on this kind of funding,” Bibby ­acknowledges. Berman puts it more bluntly: “If they’re willing to go after Medicare and Medicaid, it’s hard to believe they’d support Sec. 8 and ­LIHTC.” Then again, greater Republican control would reduce the likelihood that apartment moguls would get soaked by higher taxes. As veteran multifamily investment manager Jerry Fink is quick to point out, Romney earned his fortune in private equity and hence seems far less likely than a Democrat to push for treatment of carried interest as ordinary income rather than capital gains. “That’s probably why he doesn’t want to show his tax returns,” quips Fink, managing partner of Irvine, Calif.–based Bascom Group. Fink and his co-principals fear that a switch to ordinary-income rates for what real estate investors refer to as “promoted interest” would essentially double their tax obligations. “It’s the single biggest potential threat to our profitability going forward,” Fink says, adding that a lame-duck Obama presidency could become “the worst nightmare” for entrepreneurs relying on promote-centric income. But if the free-market crowd is ultimately able to reduce Sec. 8 rental-assistance allocations, the impact could be “disastrous” for low- and moderate-income residents, especially, and for their landlords in the noncoastal markets where demand for market-rate units remains relatively soft, Fink says. The same scenario follows for would-be developers in secondary and tertiary markets if Sec. 221(d)(4) and related Federal Housing Administration mortgage insurance programs are diminished. GSE Reform The latter part of the next congressional term will likely witness contentious debates over the long-term fates of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Industry insiders eagerly anticipate a spinning out of the two GSEs’ multifamily finance operations into private businesses—hopefully with some public credit-enhancement of apartment-backed mortgage securities. While experts generally agree that Democrats are more likely than their GOP counterparts to support a spin-off of the GSEs’ critical (and highly profitable) multifamily programs, they’re not holding their breaths anticipating that Congress will take meaningful action on GSE reform. When GSE legislation is addressed, Berman expects the “fragile” single-family sector, rather than the multifamily operations that continue generating federal revenues, to dominate the focus. “So as desirable as a multifamily spin-off of some sort may be, it seems unlikely in the near term,” Berman says. Bibby notes that the NMHC/NAA Joint Legislative Program (JLP) isn’t advocating that any specific structure underlie the ultimate fate of Fannie’s and Freddie’s multifamily divisions, but the JLP does continue to lobby for a “separate solution” from single-family activities. Bibby is also concerned about any near-term efforts to eliminate explicit federal backing of GSE multifamily securities issues, for fear of “spooking” the investor marketplace. Taxation Issues The industry consensus appears to be that a Republican leadership would be less likely to pursue higher rates for high-income investors and operators than would a Democratic leadership, particularly where carried interest is concerned. In contrast to the unclear timetable for GSE action, the 113th Congress seems almost certain to take up tax-related issues as part of the great debate over the federal government’s role and budget proceeds. And this will almost certainly include taxation-related proposals with meaningful implications for the multifamily sector, perhaps including interest deductibility, the LIHTC program, and other topics. While Bibby acknowledges that many in the industry would welcome a simpler federal tax code with fewer deductions and credits—wouldn’t we all?—the JLP’s general position with respect to taxation rates is “stand pat.” The lobby opposes any increases in current federal income-tax rates for carried interest or partnership income and, of course, any changes to business-interest deductibility. Subsidy Programs Under a turn to the right, key programs supporting the multifamily sector—FHA mortgage insurance, Sec. 8 rental assistance, and even the LIHTC—could potentially see allocations reined in as Republicans look to cut spending and streamline revenues by targeting entitlements and tax expenditures. After all, it’s no secret that a lot of antigovernment, antitax Republicans demonstrate far more hostility than do Democrats toward public subsidies of apartment production and rental assistance, not to mention continued taxpayer guarantees of mortgage securities. And Romney’s selection of Tea Party darling Paul Ryan, the Wisconsiner who chairs the House of Representatives’ powerful Budget Committee, doesn’t exactly diminish that perception. The industry will likewise continue to educate legislators about just how important key federal programs are to apartment sector interests—and to low- and moderate-income Americans. In addition to permanent retention of the LIHTC program, this agenda includes continued funding of Sec. 8 programs, FHA insurance programs, and other initiatives that support production and help tenants pay rent. Capital Markets Late 2013 should see more serious efforts to return liquidity to the semi-stalled CMBS arena, as lobbyists push regulators and legislators to at least temporarily ease risk-retention and other rules proposed as part of the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. As NMHC vice president of capital markets David Cardwell stresses, the industry is pushing for rules that don’t unduly boost securitization costs and that promote, rather than impede, ­liquidity to apartment properties via conduit lenders. Several underwriting thresholds have been proposed that would exempt securitized mortgages from risk-retention requirements. But industry leaders prefer maximum appraised loan-to-value ratios of 70 percent to 75 percent rather than the proposed 55 percent to 60 percent, along with a minimum debt coverage ratio of 1.35x (based on historical in-place income) rather than the proposed 1.70x. Cardwell also points out that these recommendations are more conservative than seen even with the GSEs’ proven underwriting. The industry also prefers rules allowing for retained-risk positions to be reduced after three to five years if mortgages perform as underwritten and pass follow-up credit-rating agency reviews. Another proposed requirement would include the escrowing of sales proceeds of the safest bond classes to be held as reserves against potential bondholder losses, which the JLP also opposes. Such a rule would tend to diminish CMBS issuance, since those proceeds are a significant component of how issuers earn their profits, Cardwell explains. Bascom’s Fink, for his part, acknowledges that during boom times, risk-retention requirements for CMBS issuers might make sense in terms of preventing bubble-esque loan underwriting. But he’d prefer that regulators lay off for maybe a couple of years and loosen restrictions on the sputtering marketplace rather than imposing more. “A 2 or 5 percent risk-retention requirement might seem small, but when you’re talking about so many billions in issuance, it makes for a very capital-intensive proposition,” Fink elaborates. As for Berman, he agrees, to some extent. Sure, a longer-term structural revision including built-in risk-retention mechanisms would likely create a more stable CMBS marketplace. Nevertheless, he’s willing to consider a Republican push to “dilute” risk-retention rules under Dodd–Frank for possibly a couple of years, which would help attract more capital back to the CMBS arena. “But for long-term stability, we really need a better [structural] model,” Berman concludes. ht make sense in terms of preventing bubble-esque loan underwriting. But he’d prefer that regulators lay off for maybe a couple of years and loosen restrictions on the sputtering marketplace rather than imposing more. “A 2 or 5 percent risk-retention requirement might seem small, but when you’re talking about so many billions in issuance, it makes for a very capital-intensive proposition,” Fink elaborates. As for Berman, he agrees, to some extent. Sure, a longer-term structural revision including built-in risk-retention mechanisms would likely create a more stable CMBS marketplace. Nevertheless, he’s willing to consider a Republican push to “dilute” risk-retention rules under Dodd–Frank for possibly a couple of years, which would help attract more capital back to the CMBS arena. “But for long-term stability, we really need a better [structural] model,” Berman concludes.

Apartment Rents, Occupancies Still Rising

Dees Stribling, Contributing Editor – Multi-Housing News.com

Dallas—According to Axiometrics Inc., national effective rents—rents net of concessions—for the U.S. apartment market increased 0.54 percent from June to July, bringing year-to-date effective rent growth up to 4.42 percent. While new apartment deliveries have yet to impact rent growth, the company posits, the rate of new deliveries is accelerating, with about 56,000 units set to be delivered in the last six months of 2012 and 129,000 units going online in 2013.

Dallas-based Axiometrics is forecasting full-year effective rent growth of 4.1 percent for 2012. But reaching that level depends largely on what happens during August and September, before normal seasonal slowing during the last quarter of the year. If the market performs somewhere between how it did during these two months in 2010 and 2011—with rent growth in 2011 being somewhat slower than it was in 2010—Axiometrics says that full-year effective rent growth could still rise as high as 4.3 percent.

Since the summer of 2011, when the U.S. apartment market saw red-hot growth in rents and occupancies, there’s been a gradual moderation in both effective rents and occupancy growth, Axiometrics president Ron Johnsey notes. Though the market is still near historical highs for both, going forward he expects that the market will likely perform closer to the extended period of stable rent growth seen in the late 1990s, rather than the up-and-down market seen more recently.

The national occupancy rate remained essentially the same month-over-month, declining a scant 3 basis points from 94.36 percent in June to 94.33 percent in July, though the rate is up almost three-quarters of a point year-to-date. Class A and B properties have generated little growth in occupancy this year, remaining around 95 percent, while Class C properties have had the highest year-over-year occupancy growth.

As a group, REIT properties, which account for about 12 percent of the Axiometrics database, continue to outperform the broader national market. REIT properties have grown rents 6.46 percent year-to-date, compared to 6.35 percent during the same period of 2011. However, in 2011 REIT properties lowered rents each month from August to December, thus the July 2012 results could be the peak year-to-date growth rate seen for them the rest of this year.

The national rate masks diversity in individual markets. Axiometrics also reported on those markets that have seen the most change, positively and negatively, since last July. Corpus Christi was the most improved market, with annual rent growth climbing from 3.22 percent last year to 7.74 percent this year. Six other markets increased their annual growth rate by at least 2 percentage points from last July.

The Key to Winning

The Key to Winning by Denis Waitley
(excerpted from Becoming an Authentic MVP)

People often ask me, what is the most critical attribute of a winner in life? Without hesitation, I answer that believing you deserve to win is the key. If you believe in your dreams when they’re all you have to hang onto, you begin to try. If you feel you have potential or talent, you’ll invest in it. If you believe you’re worth the effort, you’ll put in the time and energy. If you think you can, you’ll learn how.

Healthy self-esteem is perhaps the most important and basic quality of a winning human being.  You want to be able to say: “I like myself. Given my parents and my background, I’m glad I’m me. I realize I may not be the best-looking in the group, but I always look and do my best in every group. I’d rather be me than anyone else in the world.” This is the self-talk of a winner. Winners have developed a strong sense of self-worth, regardless of their status. They weren’t necessarily born with these good feelings, but they’ve learned to like themselves through practice.

The most successful companies in the world know that valued employees are their most precious resource. Valuable employees pass their value on to customers. The result? Excellence and quality. They are the most powerful competitors in the world marketplace. Instead of comparing ourselves to others, we should view ourselves in terms of our own abilities, interests and goals. We can begin by making a conscious effort to upgrade our lifestyle, education and personal development. You always project on the outside how you feel on the inside.

Core values radiate like rings, as when a pebble is thrown in a pond. The self-centered constantly seek approval from and power over others. They try to impress them with their worth rather than express concern for others’ well-being. And their outward appearances usually involve ways to hide their real thoughts and intentions.

The value-centered give of themselves freely and graciously, constantly seeking to empower others. Open and modest, they have no need for conceit, the opposite of core value. Feeling good about who they are, and not needing to talk about their victories or line their walls with celebrity photos, people with core values spend much of their time “paying value,” as I call it, to others. When praised, they share the spotlight. When they make mistakes, they view them as learning experiences and accept responsibility.

My friend Nathaniel Branden taught me—and countless others—that self-esteem can’t be bought, won in an arena, measured by a stock portfolio, or displayed in a fashion model’s figure or an entertainment star’s profile. Self-esteem is a profound belief that you deserve to be happy and successful, combined with a trust or confidence in an ability to manage life’s challenges. It is as necessary for human development as oxygen, as basic as the carbon from which diamonds are formed. I used to think that diamonds were so sought after because they glitter, but discovered that they ‘re actually so valuable because they’re almost impossible to destroy. Formed at the earth’s core and very rare, they hold their value indefinitely.

Perhaps you have already developed the wisdom to know that the diamonds you seek are waiting to be uncovered in your own backyard—the backyard of your mind—where your sense of values and your self-worth are embedded. The simple truth is that if we have no internalized feelings of value, we have nothing to share with others. We can need them, depend on them, look for security in them—but we can’t share or give an emotion to anyone unless we possess it. The diamond is inside us, waiting to be discovered, shaped, and polished. Self-acceptance, as we are right now, is the key to healthy self-esteem—seeing ourselves as worthwhile, changing, imperfect, growing individuals, and knowing that although we aren’t born with equal mental and physical uniforms, we are born with the equal right to feel deserving of excellence according to our own internal standards.

July Pending Home Sales Rebound

Posted by GLOZAL

Pending home sales rose in July to the highest level in over two years and remain well above year-ago levels, according to the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR).

The Pending Home Sales Index, a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, rose 2.4 percent to 101.7 in July from 99.3 in June and is 12.4 percent above July 2011 when it was 90.5. The data reflect contracts but not closings.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said the index is at the highest level since April 2010, which was shortly before the closing deadline for the home buyer tax credit. “While the month-to-month movement has been uneven, more importantly we now have 15 consecutive months of year-over-year gains in contract activity,” Yun said.

Limited inventory is constraining market activity. “All regions saw monthly increases in home-buying activity except for the West, which is now experiencing an acute inventory shortage,” Yun added.

The PHSI in the Northeast increased 0.5 percent to 77.0 in July and is 13.4 percent higher than a year ago. In the Midwest the index grew 3.4 percent to 97.4 in July and is 20.2 percent above July 2011. Pending home sales in the South rose 5.2 percent to an index of 111.7 in July and are 15.6 percent above a year ago. In the West the index slipped 1.7 percent in July to 109.9 but is 1.3 percent higher than July 2011.

Existing-home sales are projected to rise 8 to 9 percent in 2012, followed by another 7 to 8 percent gain in 2013. Home prices are expected to increase 10 percent cumulatively over the next two years.

“Falling visible and shadow inventories point toward continuing price gains. Expected gains in housing starts of 25 to 30 percent this year, and nearly 50 percent in 2013, are insufficient to meet the growing housing demand,” Yun said.

Source: NAR

Accentuating the Positive

Accentuating the Positive by Tony Alessandra

It’s been estimated that we each have upwards of 50,000 thoughts per day. How many of yours are negative? Sometimes you have to do a mental spring cleaning to get rid of those negative ones that have become ingrained attitudes. Stopping self-destructive thoughts is like stopping any other bad habit—it takes time and effort. Among the most effective ways to do this are visualization and affirmations. Affirmations are positive statements about yourself that you repeat over and over in your head until they’re programmed into your sIt’s been estimated that we each have upwards of 50,000 thoughts per day. How many of yours are negative? Sometimes you have to do a mental spring cleaning to get rid of those negative ones that have become ingrained attitudes. Stopping self-destructive thoughts is like stopping any other bad habit—it takes time and effort. Among the most effective ways to do this are visualization and affirmations. Affirmations are positive statements about yourself that you repeat over and over in your head until they’re programmed into your subconscious. ubconscious.

Visualization, or “imagineering” as Walt Disney called it, is mentally picturing yourself the way you want to be. You’ve heard the old saying “I’ll believe it when I see it”? Well, the reverse is also true: “I’ll see it when I believe it!” Affirmations and visualizations may not feel true at first. They may not even be true! But they can become so.

Consider what happens when you tell yourself over and over, “I’m lousy at remembering names.” There will never be any improvement there. So if you catch yourself saying, “I’m terrible at remembering names,” stop and immediately say to yourself, “I’m good at remembering names.”

Or consider the effect of telling yourself, “I’m feeling pretty good today.” Or “I can lose ten pounds.” Or “I am good at getting people to see things my way.” Anything you say to yourself over and over will actually influence your reality.

Writing down your affirmations in some handy place—above your desk, on your bathroom mirror, on the dashboard of your car—will help keep them in mind as well as in sight. Use affirmations and visualizations to project what success will feel like and look like. Imagine, in as much detail as you possibly can, how you feel as the boss singles you out for exceeding your quota, or how the audience hangs on your every word during your speech, or how your confident presence causes heads to turn everywhere you go.

Forging Your Character

Forging Your Character by Jim Rohn

Personal success is built on the foundation of character, and character is the result of hundreds and hundreds of choices you may make that gradually turn who you are at any given moment into who you want to be. If that decision-making process is not present, you’ll still be somebody—you’ll still be alive—but you may have a personality rather than a character, and to me that’s something very different.

Character isn’t something you were born with and can’t change, like your fingerprints. It’s something you must take responsibility for forming. You build character by how you respond to what happens in your life, whether it’s winning every game, losing every game, getting rich or dealing with hard times.

You build character from certain qualities that you must create and diligently nurture within yourself, just like you would plant and water a seed or gather wood to build a campfire. You’ve got to look for those things in your heart and in your gut. You’ve got to chisel away in order to find them, just like chiseling away rock to create the sculpture that previously existed only in the imagination.

But the really amazing thing about character is that, if you’re sincerely committed to making yourself into the person you want to be, you’ll not only create those qualities, you’ll strengthen them and re-create them in abundance, even as you’re drawing on them every day of your life. That’s why building your character is vital to becoming all you can be.

 

4 Key Roadblocks to U.S. Manufacturing Competitiveness

by David R. Butcher - Area Development Online

Manufacturing has been driving the recent — albeit tenuous — economic recovery in the U.S. Yet maintaining and strengthening the nation’s manufacturing competitiveness in the global market will require tremendous planning, effort and focused financial investment in four key areas, a new study says.

Overall, manufacturing has been a relative bright spot for the United States economy during the recovery. Until this summer, the sector had expanded for 34 months in a row. However, for the first time since July 2009, U.S. manufacturing contracted in June and then again in July. After an extremely strong start to 2012, manufacturing growth has halted nearly completely.

American manufacturing is at a critical juncture today. Maintaining and strengthening the nation’s competitiveness in the global market will require a concerted planning and focused financial investment, according to a new report from Georgia Tech and the Council on Competitiveness.

The report, U.S. Manufacturing Competitiveness Initiative: Dialog on Next Generation Supply Networks and Logistics, was published after representatives from industry, labor, government and academia gathered this past spring to share their perspectives on the current state of U.S. manufacturing, the global challenges it faces and possible solutions to mitigate these obstacles, particularly in terms of supply networks and advanced logistics.

Among the key impediments to expanding America’s global manufacturing and export capacity: 1) the growing inadequacy of its infrastructure; 2) lack of qualified factory workers; 3) tax and regulatory policy challenges; and 4) lack of a national industrial policy.

Infrastructure

“Repair, maintenance and expansion of the nation’s highway and bridge infrastructure are, perhaps, the most important components of ensuring a competitive future,” the Georgia Tech-Council on Competitiveness report states.

The U.S. currently ranks 24th among trade-competitive nations in terms of infrastructure quality. So dilapidated is the country’s transportation network that the Society of Civil Engineers gives the nation’s roads and bridges a “D” grade.

In addition, the highway and rail networks are not adding capacity. While the U.S. population has grown, the roads and rail network hasn’t.

Key Recommendations: Invest in repairing, upgrading, maintaining and expanding ground, sea and air transportation infrastructure; and utilize all freight transportation modes more efficiently.

Workforce

Based on the various perspectives shared during the spring conference, a lack of qualified factory workers is another major manufacturing challenge. The report cites a societal stigma about factory jobs – often misperceived as dirty, low-paying and unsafe – that is leading a younger generation to pursue careers in other industries, though the reality of manufacturing work is far different.

The concern becomes more urgent considering the millions of manufacturing workers who will soon reach traditional retirement age.

Key Recommendations: Expand awareness that factory jobs are high-skill, high-wage positions; work with technical colleges to improve workforce readiness; and revise immigration policies to attract educated foreign graduates to work in the U.S. manufacturing sector.

Taxes/Regulations

While acknowledging the need for taxes, the report states that the U.S. tax system as it is today discourages critical expansion projects. The transportation industry deals with everything from permit processing and route restrictions to environmental regulations and speed limits. “In an industry where time is money, burdensome regulations are costing too much of both,” the report states.

Meanwhile, the study continues, current U.S. compliance and enforcement approaches create excessive costs, timing delays and regulatory risks for infrastructure and manufacturing investments. “Complex tax codes drive investment in high-cost overhead to develop and execute tax-minimization strategies and may create negative bias in planning decisions, causing many to conservatively evaluate investments based on statutory rather than lower effective rates,” according to the report.

Key Recommendations: Review and simplify corporate tax codes, permitting and regulatory processes to reduce the cost, uncertainty and timing risk of investment in the U.S.; and enact Investment Tax Credit legislation that would provide a 25 percent tax credit for new rail capacity.

National Policy

Finally, U.S. competitiveness is suffering from the lack of a national industrial policy.

While all other major trading nations follow a strategic blueprint of objectives and benchmarks for coordinating and advancing their competitive positions in the world market, the U.S. is focused on short-term goals, driven more “by the two-year election cycle than by long-term, sustainable economic development that plans for 10 or 20 years down the road.”

Key Recommendations: Develop a long-range, comprehensive national manufacturing strategy; fund research institutes and university programs linked to high-growth, innovative industry sectors; and pursue public-private partnerships.

Citing data from the U.N. National Accounts Main Aggregates Database, the Georgia Tech-Council on Competitiveness study reports that America’s share of global manufacturing fell from 21.7 percent in 1980 to 20.5 percent in 2009, while China’s share rose from 1.9 percent in 1980 to 18 percent in 2009, with most of its increase coming at the expense of Europe and Japan.

As industries around the world struggle with ways to recover from, or at least navigate, a still-volatile economic landscape, it is more important than ever for the U.S. economy to put into place the fundamentals underpinning manufacturing growth and development.

“By capitalizing on its unique strengths, America is well positioned to continue growing its manufacturing output and exports, thereby enhancing its global competitiveness,” the report concludes. “The same spirit of innovation and collaboration that once characterized American preeminence in manufacturing can help us regain our competitiveness, creating jobs, increasing exports and serving as a catalyst for a healthy economy.”