Every once in awhile I come across a bunch of articles I plan on writing about, but run out of time.

You may be interested in them, however.

(Once again, the media uses the word “Boston” over and over again when they mean “Greater Boston area” or, worse, “Massachusetts”. But, w/e.)

Boston-area market to see price declines for next year

Boston’s housing market will continue to decline until at least mid-2008, but might begin stabilizing late this year or some time in 2009, two top economists say.

“The good news is that the housing situation in New England is not as bad as some other regions,” Boston Federal Reserve senior economist Alicia Sasser told a real estate conference yesterday in Cambridge. “The bad news is that (the downturn) isn’t over yet.”

Source: Housing woe not yet over: Seeds of recovery sown – By Jerry Kronenberg

Boston-area real estate market to turn around this year

Forecasts are notoriously difficult to get right. That’s even more true when economic data are in flux and economists remain uncertain whether the US economy has entered – or will enter – a recession. If unemployment rises, it is more difficult for people to buy homes or trade up to bigger properties.

“If we have a recession, demand is going to drop further and put more downward pressure on prices,” said Chip Case, a housing economist and professor at Wellesley College.

But, Case said, the Boston and Massachusetts housing markets could turn around this year.

Source: Forecast: No housing recovery until 2009: Boston-area prices could fall 8% more – By Kimberly Blanton, The Boston Globe

City screws students

An amendment to the city’s zoning code that was passed unanimously by the City Council in December aims to limit the number of college students who can live together in a residential area to four, regardless of the size of the unit.

The proposal, originally sponsored by City Councilor Michael Ross, changes the definition of family in the zoning code to exclude five or more unrelated students. An updated version sparing graduate students from the limit passed muster with the Boston Redevelopment Authority last week, clearing the way for a public hearing with the city’s zoning commission March 12.

Source: Off campus, council says, five’s a crowd – By Richard Thompson, The Boston Globe

Shiller: Let me smugly remind you, I was right and these other economists were wrong (and I’m naming names …)

ONE great puzzle about the recent housing bubble is why even most experts didn’t recognize the bubble as it was forming.

Alan Greenspan, a very serious student of the markets, didn’t see it, and, moreover, he didn’t see the stock market bubble of the 1990s, either …

… The failure to recognize the housing bubble is the core reason for the collapsing house of cards we are seeing in financial markets in the United States and around the world. If people do not see any risk, and see only the prospect of outsized investment returns, they will pursue those returns with disregard for the risks.

Were all these people stupid? It can’t be. We have to consider the possibility that perfectly rational people can get caught up in a bubble.

Source:How a Bubble Stayed Under the Radar – By Robert J Shiller, The New York Times

Next up from politicians: well, the only rational decision is to let people have their houses for free, let’s cancel all their mortgages

Here are the five most prominent plans for propping up, rescuing, freezing, and throwing a lifeline to the housing market:

* Rep. Frank: spend $15 billion on loans, giving owners chance to refinance, and spend another $10 billion on buying up foreclosed homes;

* Sen. Dodd: spend $20 billion on “distressed loans” and help owners refinance;

* Treasury Sec’y Paulson: freeze interest rates on some loans for five years;

* Sen. Reid: spend $4 billion to buy foreclosed homes, and let judges reduce borrowers’ unpaid loan balances;

* Office of Thrift Supervision: refinance 8 million homeowners into gov’t-sponsored loans, payoff their balances.

More: 5 Proposals to Turn Around the Market – By Alan Zibel, The Associated Press, by way of Realtor.org

Man’s suicide tied to bloggers’ comments

Visitors to AgencySpy and AdScam, two blogs written by advertising industry insiders, posted comments blaming the sites for contributing to the suicide late last month of Paul Tilley, 40, the creative director of DDB Chicago …

… Tilley, who oversaw teams that created the “I’m Lovin’ It” campaign for McDonald’s and the “Dell Dude,” ads, apparently jumped from an upper floor of the Fairmont Chicago hotel on Feb. 22. The Cook County medical examiner ruled his death a suicide.

Source: After Suicide, Blog Insults Debated – By Bob Tedeschi, The New York Times

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