Sunday, September 6, 2015
Friday, September 4, 2015
Monday, August 24, 2015
Tuesday, August 18, 2015
If you're paying more for rent this year, you're not alone. Rents climbed an average of 15 percent across the country between 2009 and 2014, according to a recent analysis by the National Association of Realtors, and the cost to rent in some markets like New York, Seattle and San Francisco has jumped more than 20 percent.
Renters nationwide can now expect to spend 30 percent of their income on rent, according to a new report from the real estate data firm Zillow, which noted that rental affordability worsened year over year in 28 of the 35 largest metro areas covered by the company.
Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the NAR, attributes rising rents to "supply constraints" in housing and rentals: fewer rentals means higher prices. And millennial renters have been particularly hard hit, as rents are rising faster than income levels in many markets. "It's very demoralizing," he said.
But that doesn't mean you can't get a good deal—even in high-rent cities. Here's how to get the most for your money no matter where you live.
Expand your search. Rent is often highest in the hottest areas of a city. Even moving a couple subway stops or highway exits away can make a big difference in what you'll pay, said Paul Magyar of Mirador Real Estate in New York City.
For example, the average price of a one-bedroom apartment in Manhattan was nearly $3,200 (in a nondoorman building) in July, according to the latest rental market report from real estate group MNS. But the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Harlem, an area that is rapidly gentrifying, was $2,145—far less than the city's overall average rent and $700 less per month than the average one-bedroom rent in the neighboring Upper West Side neighborhood. And Harlem is only one or two stops away from midtown Manhattan on an express subway line.
Moving a little further outside a city can also save money. But it's worth factoring in the cost of owning a car and paying for gas if you're considering a suburban rental versus living in a city with good public transportation.
Decide your budget and stick to it. Before you start looking, figure out what you can afford to pay each month. Experts suggest spending no more than 25 to 33 percent of your income on rent. "It's not an investment," said Catherine Seeber, a senior financial advisor at Wescott Financial Advisory Group in Philadelphia. And you want to make sure you have enough money set aside for emergencies and other expenses. (A new Zillow analysis found renters with a high burden—those who spend more than 30 percent of their income on rent—have a median savings rate of zero.)
Don't forget incidentals. Be sure to find out what's included in the rent and what's not (like water, heat and laundry). Seeber also recommends making sure your landlord, building superintendent or management company will be easily accessible. Otherwise, if you need an emergency repair, it could end up costing you time—and money, if you pay out of pocket with no guarantee of reimbursement.
Consider a roommate. Splitting the rent with a roommate means you can often afford a nicer apartment than you could on your own. Not only will you save money on rent, but you can split the cost of utilities, Wi-Fi and other bills.
Check the out clause. Find out what's entailed if you or your landlord wants to end the lease early. Not only do you want to know what you might be responsible for if you need to move before your lease ends, but you want to know what to expect if an owner decides to sell the unit or move into it. If that happens, you could end up looking for a new place and paying moving fees before you planned on it, said Brian Morgan a realtor for Citi Habitats in New York City (where you may be on the hook for another broker's fee as well).
You could also consider living in a more reasonably priced city like Detroit, Memphis, Tennessee, or Lexington, Kentucky, where the NAR noted incomes have risen faster than rents. Although the same rules apply there too, of course.
Monday, August 17, 2015
Thursday, August 13, 2015
Wednesday, August 12, 2015
If you’re a gun owner in the city of Los Angeles, you may soon be a criminal.
The City Council has passed an ordinance that bans the possession of any firearms magazine with a capacity greater than 10 rounds. With the mayor’s signature Friday, owners of the prohibited magazines now will have 60 days to turn them over to police, destroy them personally or move them to a location outside the city limits. The ordinance says owners can sell them, but don’t try it — state law prohibits the sale of “large-capacity” magazines and has since Jan. 1, 2000.
Because that state law banned the sale but not the possession of large-capacity magazines, existing property was effectively “grandfathered.” The Los Angeles ordinance makes no such accommodation.
“With a stroke of a pen the Los Angeles City Council has not only turned hundreds of thousands of law-abiding L.A. residents into criminals, they have made property that was legally purchased under state and federal law illegal to possess overnight,” said Paul Nordberg, director of the Calguns Foundation and president of Calguns.net, a highly trafficked online forum for California gun owners. “To the best of my knowledge there is no method or funding for informing the public of their change in status from law-abiding citizen to criminal.”
Nordberg says the people who will be hardest hit are those who participate in the sport of competitive shooting, enthusiasts who have spent tens of thousands of dollars on fees and equipment. Magazines with a capacity of 15 rounds are standard in national competitions. “I refuse to call them ‘high capacity,’” he said, “Fifteen rounds is the standard, and words have meaning.”
People who don’t live in Los Angeles are unaffected by the ordinance, unless they drive through L.A. to get to a shooting range or competition in an area outside the city’s boundaries. Then, Nordberg says, they risk “arrest, confiscation of property and possible loss of civil rights for simply doing the same thing they did the day before and have done for years, simply going to the shooting range with the legal property they have owned for over a decade.”
The City Council is working on a second ordinance that would mandate the use of gun locks in the home. That ordinance is modeled on laws in San Francisco and Sunnyvale that have so far been upheld by the federal courts.
But that may not last. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas was not happy with the lower courts’ decision to uphold the mandatory gun lock law. “Despite the clarity with which we described the Second Amendment’s core protection for the right of self-defense, lower courts, including the ones here, have failed to protect it,” he wrote.
Still, the Supreme Court decided not to hear a challenge to the mandatory gun lock law — yet. So Los Angeles jumped right in to pass a similar ordinance.
California is one of only six states that has no “right to keep and bear arms” in its state constitution. In Nevada, for example, the state constitution says, “Every citizen has the right to keep and bear arms for security and defense, for lawful hunting and recreational use and for other lawful purposes.”
The Arizona constitution says, “The right of the individual citizen to bear arms in defense of himself or the State shall not be impaired, but nothing in this section shall be construed as authorizing individuals or corporations to organize, maintain or employ an armed body of men.” In Texas, “Every citizen shall have the right to keep and bear arms in the lawful defense of himself or the State; but the Legislature shall have power, by law, to regulate the wearing of arms, with a view to prevent crime.”
But in California the state constitution is silent, so gun owners in the Golden State must depend on the federal courts’ interpretation of the Second Amendment to protect their rights from infringement. That means lawsuits will be filed to challenge the two city ordinances, and city taxpayers will incur the costs of defending the ordinances in federal court.
To better protect Second Amendment rights in California, an amendment to the state constitution is needed that secures for Californians the protections that gun owners have in 43 other states. Without that, we’re at the mercy of politicians who like to score political points by criminalizing the actions of people who didn’t do anything to anybody.
Susan Shelley is a San Fernando Valley author, a former television associate producer and twice a Republican candidate for the California Assembly. Reach her at Susan@SusanShelley.com, or follow her on Twitter: @Susan_Shelley.
About five hours south of San Francisco, where Kate Steinle was murdered in broad daylight by an illegal immigrant, another illegal immigrant has been charged with raping and savagely beating an Air Force veteran to death with a hammer. According to police, Marilyn Pharis, 64, was sleeping in her Santa Maria, California home in the late morning — after having worked the night shift as a satellite tracker at nearby Vandenberg Air Force Base — when an illegal immigrant named Victor Aureliano Martinez and his accomplice Jose Fernando Villagomez broke into her house, raped her, strangled her, and bludgeoned her “mercilessly” with a hammer. She died eight days later.
The commander of the Air Force’s 50th Space Wing, where Pharis worked, called her death a “tragic loss.”
Martinez — originally from Durango, Mexico — had been arrested six times in the past 15 months. But he was roaming free, thanks in part to the Obama administration’s lax view of deportation, its refusal to enforce federal drug laws, and its determination to reduce prison sentences for nonviolent crimes. California’s parallel efforts contributed as well.
Santa Maria police chief Ralph Martin says, “I believe there’s a blood trail from Washington, D.C. to Sacramento into the bedroom of Marilyn.”
Santa Maria, population 102,000, is exactly the sort of place where the I-95 open-borders crowd ought to spend some time before they continue to conspire, Gang of Eight-like, to make our immigration problems even worse. Perhaps they would then finally start to appreciate the ill-effects of illegal immigration (much of which starts out as legal) and the lack of assimilation that inevitably results when immigration is both lawless and excessive.
Steve LeBard is a business owner in Santa Maria who lives in the town of Orcutt, which borders Santa Maria to the south. With some help from THE WEEKLY STANDARD, he fought and won a battle against the California Department of Transportation to hang an American flag near the entrance to charming Old Town Orcutt, but he has yet to prevail in his effort to build a privately funded memorial to veterans on that same site. LeBard emailed a few thoughts in the wake of this brutal murder of an innocent Air Force veteran:
“Most people that live in the Santa Maria area believe that Santa Maria is an unofficial ‘sanctuary city.’ I disagree. I believe Santa Maria is a Mexican city — of sorts. A large part of the city speaks Spanish and has no interest in learning English — with many businesses advertising in Spanish only. These people speak of returning to Mexico someday — bringing their new-found prosperity with them — they don’t want to be Americans….
“What does this have to do with this vicious murder? It’s simple — if you’re here illegally you don't rock the panga — you don’t cooperate with the police and you don’t report crime. You create a haven for criminals — gangs that prey on the mostly good people that are here working the farms….
“Santa Maria is the perfect storm when it comes to illegal immigration. It is a community that has it resources overwhelmed by people coming here with knowledge of how to work the system. They have it down pat, from taxes to social services to free buses to the fields. They use the local hospital emergency room as their primary-care physician. (I'm a Vietnam veteran; if I go to the VA Clinic and there is something wrong with me, they put me on a four-hour bus to Los Angeles. If I'm a Mexican (as in Mexican citizen), I go to the emergency room and the hospital negates the bill — passes it on to me...a U.S. taxpayer.)
Sunday, August 9, 2015
A surge in serious crimes by illegal immigrants—many repeat offenders—who have been shielded by sanctuary laws isn’t stopping legislators in Massachusetts from quietly pushing for a measure that would protect undocumented aliens statewide.
The move could not have come at a worse time, as the nation reels from a series of atrocious crimes committed by illegal aliens who long ago should have been deported. Instead, they were protected by sanctuary laws despite their criminal histories and illegal status in the U.S. A recent example is the gruesome July 4 San Francisco murder of a young woman by an illegal immigrant thug with seven felony convictions. The Mexican national had been deported five times.
Like a number of municipalities across the nation, San Francisco’s sanctuary law protects illegal aliens and bans any sort of cooperation with federal authorities, even when the perpetrator is guilty of a serious offense. In fact, in the recent San Francisco case Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) had issued a detainer for the illegal alien, 45-year-old Francisco Sanchez, but local authorities did not honor it and instead released him. San Francisco’s mayor defended the policy after the senseless murder, saying that it “protects residents regardless of immigration status and is not intended to protect repeat, serious and violent felons.”
More than 200 cities, counties, and states across the U.S. protect criminal aliens from deportation by refusing to comply with ICE detainers or otherwise impede information exchanges between their employees, according to the Center for Immigration Studies. Among them is Cook County in Illinois, Miami-Dade County in south Florida and practically the entire state of California. In Massachusetts only a couple of cities—Amherst and Boston—have sanctuary measures in place and some state lawmakers want to broaden the protection.
The legislature is looking to pass a measure that will offer sanctuary protections to illegal aliens statewide. If approved, all public agencies in Massachusetts will be banned from divulging information on illegal immigrants to federal authorities and state employees will be forbidden from denying any taxpayer-funded assistance, benefits or participation in public programs to those in the country illegally. “This shall include, but not be limited, to education or training, employment, health, welfare, rehabilitation, housing or other services, whether provided directly by the recipient of funds of the commonwealth or provided by others through contracts or other arrangements with the recipient,” according to language in the proposed law.
The measure also offers illegal immigrants assistance in gaining legal status in the U.S., possibly citizenship. “It shall be the policy of the commonwealth to support and encourage any and all residents in their attempts to obtain lawful immigration status and, if they choose, citizenship. Nothing in this section shall prohibit an agency or employee of the commonwealth or recipient of commonwealth funds from requesting the voluntary provision of information or documentation regarding immigration status to the extent necessary to assist an individual in resolving his or her immigration question when such assistance is part of a program’s activities and is consistent with this subsection.”
The bill was introduced by state Representative Byron Rushing, a Boston Democrat who claims his priorities are human and civil rights. The civil rights activist/politician should read this disturbing investigative series in his hometown newspaper about illegal immigrant sex offenders who have been released instead of deported. They include convicted rapists, child molesters and kidnappers. One law enforcement agency calls them “the worst of the worst.” Just a few weeks ago, another local news report revealed that two illegal immigrants charged with drug-related crimes are suspected of murdering a grandmother in Lawrence, which is about 29 miles from Boston.
Friday, August 7, 2015
Tuesday, August 4, 2015
We’ve inflated another bubble; count on the crash. People complain about high prices when they’re buying, not when they’re selling, and that’s why housing bubbles are always politically popular: The sort of people who own homes are the sort of people who vote and volunteer on political campaigns and make donations. And the fact that tax revenue tends to increase as housing prices rise doesn’t go unnoticed by the nation’s mayors and governors. Renters tend to have more sensible views — you’ll never hear a renter say, “Hey, my rent is doubling this year — that’s awesome! The economy must be doing great!” But nobody listens to them.
And that’s why we’ve inflated a second housing bubble.
In some ways, the current housing bubble is even more bonkers than the last one — which, if you’ll recall, sorta-kinda almost destroyed the world’s financial system.
As of this writing, the median U.S. home price is just 3 percent shy of its 2007 peak. (Existing-home prices already are at a record high.) But that does not even begin to capture the story. In San Francisco, the median price of a single-family home has doubled since 2012. The median San Francisco home is now nearly $1.4 million, or 50 percent higher than it was at the peak of the last bubble. The median household income in San Francisco is about $77,000. Put another way: The median home price in San Francisco is now 18 times the median household income.
Does that sound like a stable position to you?
Via: National Review
Saturday, August 1, 2015
Liberal Democrats have secured total control of the city’s elected offices. Being a Democrat isn’t enough anymore. In a city where there are more than six Democrats for every Republican, political campaigns are decided by which candidate is the true progressive.
With no evil capitalists or conservative Republicans to thwart their plans, San Francisco should be a socialist utopia. Income inequality solved. Affordable housing provided to all. Criminals rehabilitated. Women guaranteed equal protection under the law.
Yet, the city hasn’t made much “progress” on much of anything. Here’s a progress report on every liberal’s pet issues.
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