Coronavirus and Home Sales in China

Beijing: Home prices in China are reflecting the country’s battle to contain the coronavirus outbreak. China’s National Bureau of Statistics reports the average price of new homes in 70 Chinese cities increased 6.45% from January 2019, the slowest rate of growth since July 2018. And a large-scale home-price reduction is expected in February. Home sales are believed to have plummeted as much as 90%, following the lockdown last month in Wuhan, capital of Hubei province, where the virus was first reported. More than 70,000 people have been infected with COVID-19 and more than 2,000 have died.  

College Station: Last year, for the first time in Texas history, housing sales exceeded $100 billion, according to the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M. Their economists said the decade ended in 2019 was the best record for housing across the state. They predict a sales increase this year of 5-6% and a price increase this year of 5-6%. Home price growth in Texas outpaces the states in the rest of the country. People in Texas have to spend more to buy a house. Still, Texas cities have a home price advantage compared with other major U.S. markets. Texas homebuilders are still behind, even though DFW and Houston are the top two single-family building markets in the U.S. Population projections for the next 10 years call for 5.2 million new Texans and 1.6 million in DFW.

DFW: About a third of houses sold in Texas last year were priced between $200,000-$300,000, reports the Texas Realtors association. The highest home prices in the state are in Austin, where a mid-priced home costs $315,000. More than 103,000 North Texas homes were sold last year by real estate agents, up 3% from 2018. Statewide, a record 357,238 homes were sold by agents, the fifth consecutive year for record Texas sales and prices. Listings were up more than 5% statewide and up 14% in the DFW area.  

Pleasant Prairie: Record water levels in all five Great Lakes are causing millions in damage from Minnesota to New York as eroding shorelines and monster waves cause homes to fall into the water, piers crumble, parks and properties are flooded. Cause is above average rain and snowfall in the region. Last year was the wettest on record for the Great Lakes and the second wettest across the continental U.S., according to federal data. The University of Michigan’s School for Environment and Sustainability said the warming climate is accenting both precipitation and evaporation, the two main forces affecting lake levels. Twelve counties in Michigan and six in Wisconsin have asked for help. Duluth officials say it will take $30 million to fix the shoreline and public infrastructure along Lake Superior. In Illinois, estimates are $25 million for property along Lake Michigan in Chicago. In Wisconsin, three shoreline counties need $30 million for infrastructure. Homeowners are building sea walls, jetties and other barriers against erosion. Some owners are physically relocating their homes away from the shoreline.  

Edinburgh: New York’s Blackstone Group, now the world’s largest real estate company with a portfolio of $325 billion, has acquired one of the U.K.’s largest owners of student housing for $4.6 billion. IQ Student Accommodation oversees more than 28,000 beds in facilities in some of the country’s major university cities. Britain’s education system is among the country’s most lucrative sources of revenue, totaling about $23 billion in 2017. Demand for British higher education is significant from domestic and international students.  

Mountain View: In Los Angeles, 16,500 people called an RV vehicle their home last year. In San Francisco, the figure was 1,800, up 45% from 2017. In Santa Clara County the number nearly tripled to 1,747. Residents on streets where the vehicles park complain about sewage tank dumping and drug use. In Mountain View, headquarters for Google, about 300 live in vehicles, triple the number from 2016. In Seattle, where 2,147 people live in vehicles, towing and destroying unsafe RVs is being considered. Other cities are shortening the time parked in one location to three days. The RV explosion in the West is forcing communities to seek solutions for the homeless. Under U.S. HUD rules, RVs are considered in the same category as tents or subway tunnels.

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