Tag Archives: Housing

PHOTO ESSAY | William Morgan Houses | Atlantic Beach, FL

promo_WilliamMorgan0121_0William Morgan was an American Modernist architect based in Jacksonville, Florida, who passed away earlier this year (December 14, 1930 – January 18, 2016). Three of his designs are included on the Florida Association of the American Institute of Architects list of Florida’s Top 100 Buildings including The Williamson House in Ponte Vedra Beach, Morgan’s Residence in Atlantic Beach, and Dickinson Hall at the University of Florida. Morgan grew up in Jacksonville and graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University before serving in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War. After the war, he returned to Harvard to study architecture. He studied in Italy on a Fulbright Scholarship and then returned to Jacksonville to open his architecture practice in 1961 (Source: Wikipedia; Photograph: Florida Times-Union).

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Street-side view of the William Morgan House in Atlantic Beach, FL (Photograph: Mark David Major).

The William Morgan House located at 1945 Beach Avenue in a Atlantic Beach, Florida was commissioned 1971. The 1,800 square foot house is made of timber construction. Two triangular masses meet to form A-frame styled house, which sits partially atop a sand dune with the lower level resting on beach. There is a symmetrical exterior with stepped balconies, rough-sawn interior and exterior cedar siding with central-entrance stairway (Source: North Carolina Modernist Houses). Morgan’s use of the A-frame in the design to accommodate parking in street-side carports is remarkably similar to the prototypical design of the Southern California ‘dingbat’ houses of the 1950s/1960s.

Beach-side view - second from right - of the William Morgan house in Atlantic Beach, FL (Photograph: Mark David Major).
Beach-side view – second from right – of the William Morgan House in Atlantic Beach, FL (Photograph: Mark David Major).
Nighttime beach-side view of the William Morgan House in Atlantic Beach, FL (Photograph: William Morgan).
Nighttime beach-side view of the William Morgan House in Atlantic Beach, FL (Photograph: William Morgan).

William Morgan’s Dune House is a small earth-sheltered home in Atlantic Beach, Florida, which is actually a duplex of two near-identical homes of 750 square feet in size. As Morgan lived next door, he did not want the new house to block his view of the ocean so he preferred to keep the landscape natural. Morgan’s solution was to bury the house in an existing sand dune, which was  constructed in 1975 for use as vacation rentals. It is barely visible from the street above. From the ocean side, it appears somewhat frog-like with two large rounded openings framing the twin patios. The mass of sand over and around the homes moderates the inside temperatures year-round so very little heating or cooling is needed (Source: Small House Bliss).

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Street-side entry to William Morgan’s Dune House in Atlantic Beach, FL (Photograph: Mark David Major).
Street-side entry to William Morgan's Dune House in Atlantic Beach, FL (Photograph: Small Town Bliss).
Beach-side view of William Morgan’s Dune House in Atlantic Beach, FL (Photograph: Small House Bliss).
Interior view of living area in William Morgan's Dune House in Atlantic Beach, FL (Photograph: Small House Bliss).
Interior view of living area in William Morgan’s Dune House in Atlantic Beach, FL (Photograph: Small House Bliss).
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NOW AVAILABLE | Housing and Modern Corporatism

Housing and Modern Corporatism: Inside the Doomsday Machine explains basic economic principles and tools at work in the housing market during the post-war period in the United States with an emphasis on the cumulative origins and causes of the 2008 financial crisis. The course covers the role of: purposefully opaque, financial instruments; mistakes in political and regulatory policy; naked, greedy (even fraudulent and/or corrupt) self-interest in the marketplace; and the unspoken, self-deluding assumptions underlying the housing and real estate market, which collectively sparked the Great Recession from 2008 until ‘to be determined’. The course is tailored for architecture, urban design and planning professionals, students, and others engaged in creating built environments to better understand the impact of these often unseen, poorly understood forces at work on their livelihood and the future of our cities (2.0 hour course).

Key concepts: capitalization, credit, money, housing, mortgage bonds, reserve currency, securitization, value.

Instructor: Dr. Mark David Major, AICP, CNU-A

Check here to purchase this course ($14.99), which includes an one-hour video presentation and PDFs of the course supplementary materials and slide handout.

Note: We are beta-testing with these initial course offerings so if you have any issues accessing the course material, please do not hesitate to contact us at courses@outlaw-urbanist.com. Thank you!

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REVIEW | How to Speak Money by John Lanchester

how_to_speak_moneyREVIEW
How to Speak Money: What the money people say… and what they really mean
by John Lanchester

John Lanchester’s How to Speak Money: What the money people say… and what they really mean is a worthwhile read though the whole adds up to somewhat of a mixed bag. The first chapter, “The Language of Money” is a fabulous, broad-based read, mostly focused on telling the story of economics as a field and topic of study. The middle definition section, “The Lexicon of Money” is mostly thorough and informative but a lot of readers (for example, architects, urban designers, urban planners) will find some definitions more useful than others based on their own interests and life experience. This really isn’t Lanchester’s fault; it’s just the ‘nature of the beast,’ as some might say. The “Afterword” is really problematic as Lanchester tries to pull it all together into a more widespread, sweeping view of where we have been and where we are going after the Great Recession. In doing so, he strains to debunk what he describes as the Neo-liberalism economic policies of the last 30 years (what most people know as supply-side economics or Reaganomics) on the basis of inequality (i.e. gap between rich and poor). At the same time, Lanchester heralds the remarkable progress of developing and emerging markets over the same time period, especially in improving child mortality and education rates, lifting people out of poverty, etc. (i.e. reducing inequality). However, to accept Lanchester’s argument, the reader has to assume that these simultaneous events over the last 30 years are utterly disconnected, occurring in a vacuum independently of each other. It seems far more plausible that Reagan and Margaret Thatcher’s promises to the middle/lower classes of a ‘trickle down effect’ that lifts all boats has not been realized in the developed Western societies such as the United States and United Kingdom but, through the mechanism of globalization, manifested on a worldwide scale in these emergent markets. This means Lanchester’s proposed solution, a return to the democratic socialist policies of the 60s/70s that is inevitably the default position of most Baby Boomers, is incorrect (and very old news). As I recall, Reagan/Thatcher never supported the concept of near-monopolies as part of their broader economic strategy, which has, in fact,  emerged in modern corporatism of the Western societies over the last 2-3 decades. This suggests that economic model we should be looking towards for a correction in the obvious abuses of the Neo-Liberal economic model (see bank fraud/credit crunch of the Great Recession) lies in the early 20th century ‘trust-busting’ model of Teddy Roosevelt. In this sense, the “Afterwood” serves its purpose by forcing anyone with a basic understanding of history and economics to draw to their own, more rational conclusions in order to reconcile the inherent contradictions of Lanchester’s argument. How to Speak Money: What the money people say… and what they really mean is worth the read but it should be read thoughtfully, not blindly. Grade: 3 1/2 stars

3-5-starshow_to_speak_moneyHow to Speak Money: What the money people say… and what they really mean
by John Lanchester
W. W. Norton & Company (October 6, 2014)
English
ISBN-10: 0393243370
ISBN-13: 978-0393243376

You can purchase How to Speak Money: What the money people say… and what they really mean on Amazon here.

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The Splenda Housing Market | To Be or Not to Be

To Be or Not to Be: The Splenda Housing Market
by Mark David Major, The Outlaw Urbanist contributor

UrbanLand reports we finally have a ‘real’ housing recovery (see below). Trulia Trends and The Atlantic Cities report housing prices are recovering at a more rapid pace in urban neighborhoods than in the suburbs (see below). However, CNN/Money and AOL Real Estate report McMansions of suburbia are making a comeback (see below) based on recent Census data instead of national homebuilder ‘wish fulfillment’ surveys (see The Outlaw Urbanist January 24, 2013 post, “McMansions Return“). Other media outlets are reporting an explosion in rental apartment construction. What gives?

Welcome to a Splenda Housing Market, where the modus operandi is a saccharine high of easy money, taxpayer-funded bailouts, and manipulated markets!

• The Fed continues to pump easy money into the economy at a rapid rate through its bond-purchasing program called Qualitative Easing (what number are we on now?). Despite what Paul Krugman and the American government tell you (“we only measure inflation on things people don’t want to buy”), there are real inflationary pressures out there, which are transmitted into every facet of the American economy including housing. The evidence lies in the year-to-year increase in housing prices from 2011 to 2012. The appreciation of property values in the Trulia Trends report range from 7.3% in New York to an astounding 33.8% in Las Vegas! This is patently unsustainable and highly suspicious.

• Eager to return to the “good, old days” as quickly as possible, realtors and landlords are shamelessly inflating prices for home/property and monthly rents to a level far above their real value, especially in light of the next item.

• The banks have a huge amount of inventory of foreclosed homes on their books, the majority of which lies vacant and withheld from the housing market. What does it mean? Housing prices never reached their true floor.

• For every home foreclosed, the banks not only get the home but also file an insurance claim on the mortgage debt, usually with AIG (i.e. the American {Insurance} Government). What does it mean? The banks get to have their cake courtesy of dispossessed homeowners and they get to eat it too funded by American taxpayers by double dipping on the value of the home and the mortgage.

• As home/property values continue to appreciate at a steady pace, the banks will systematically release their massive inventory onto the market to capitalize on rising housing prices. What does it mean? The value of your home/property is artificially suppressed as increased inventory enters the market;

• The longer home/property values appreciate and the more inventory released on the market by the banks, then the more the initial gain in the recovery rate of housing prices in urban neighborhoods touted by The Atlantic Cities and others will evaporate. These stable, urban neighborhoods tended to be the last to experience the crashing wave of falling housing prices during the Great Recession, so naturally they are the first to recover their real value. However, this is an ephemeral comeback for urban neighborhoods. The longer the Splenda Housing Market is in effect, then the more attractive becomes cheap land at the periphery of our cities and the ‘old way’ of doing things. Welcome back, suburban sprawl! We hardly could stand you the first time around!

What does it mean for you? The long and short is this: unless you possess the equity at hand to pay cash for a property/home now, then you’re totally screwed. Too bad, suckers. Remember friends: the only reason the shit rolls downhill is because of who is squatting at the top and taking a dump.

Excerpt from June 27, 2013 article, “Housing Recovery Strengthens, but Credit Remains an Issue” by Bendix Anderson on UrbanLand:

“The housing sector is finally helping the U.S. economic recovery, rather than holding it back. But more Americans than ever now spend more than half their income on housing, according to The State of the Nation’s Housing 2013, a report released June 26 by the Joint Center for Housing Studies (JCHS) at Harvard University. “Clearly, we are in a strong housing recovery now,” said Eric Belsky, managing director of JCHS.

Read the full article here: Housing Recovery Strengthens, but Credit Remains an Issue | UrbanLand.

Excerpt from June 25, 2013 article, “Home Prices Rising Faster in Cities than in the Suburbs – Most of All in Gayborhoods”by Jed Kolko on Trulia Trends:

Here’s the punch line: urban neighborhoods had faster price growth in the past year, while suburban neighborhoods had higher population growth. The median asking price per square foot was up 11.3% in urban neighborhoods, versus 10.2% in suburban neighborhoods. (The overall national increase, including urban and suburban neighborhoods, was 10.5%.) But despite faster price growth in cities, the suburbs are where people are moving: suburban neighborhoods had faster population growth than urban neighborhoods did, 0.56% versus 0.31%.”

Read the full article here: Home Prices Rising Faster in Cities than in the Suburbs – Most of All in Gayborhoods | Trulia Trends.

Excerpt from June 5, 2013 article “McMansions Are Making a Comeback” by CNN/Money on AOL Real Estate:

“As the economy recovers, America’s love affair with the oversized McMansion has been reignited. During the past three years, the average size of new homes has grown significantly, according to a Census Bureau report released Monday. In 2012, the median home in the U.S. hit an all-time record of 2,306 square feet, up 8 percent from 2009.”

Read the full CNN/Money article here: McMansions Are Making a Comeback | AOL Real Estate.

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McMansions Return: Big Houses Come Back | Yahoo! Finance

McMansions Return: Big Houses Come Back – Yahoo! Finance.

In other news today, the Hershey Company released the startling results of a survey that indicates 98% of children want candy for every meal on an everyday basis. This appears to confirm the findings of the most recent surveys by the American Dental Association and Halloween Industry Association (yes, it really does exist) that asked similar questions of American children. However, it does seem to contradict the findings of a recent survey by the International Association of Ice Cream Distributors & Vendors that suggested 96% of American children actually want ice cream for every meal. A spokesman for the American Dental Association was kind enough to take time away from a vacation on his yacht off the coast of Barbados to comment, “We don’t see how the results of these different surveys about what American children want to be provided for their daily nutrient requirements can be viewed as in conflict with one another in any feasible manner.”

There are so many depressing aspects of this story and the media coverage that the McMansion part only begins to scratch the surface of what is wrong with this picture.

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