Info Bytes 02.16.23
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ISSUE # 59
CIC Info Bytes 02/16/23
CIC Info Bytes are frequent, succinct updates providing educational and engagement opportunities that help your community thrive! Please forward and share this newsletter with your peers, neighbors and colleagues so they can connect and join.
All 59 CIC Info Bytes issues are available online and indexed from the omnibox search.
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TAKE IT: 2023 Condo Questionnaire
The Condo Questionnaire is a detailed survey with anonymized results disseminated solely to participants for the benefit of their association.
Time investment is 10 to 20 minutes
Questions range from management to staffing to vendors to insurance
You can save your work and pick up where you left (if signed into a G-account)
Results will be delivered circa mid-March in a tidy Looker Studio dashboard.
Board (Directors) & Officers information has been part of Decision-Making 101 for quite some time and now has its own home for ease of reference.
Condo Connection started by documenting answers, examples and solutions somewhere everyone with an internet connection can find and view them for free. Curating a trove of information led to an understanding that homeowners and common interest communities (CICs) lack an organization dedicated to their best interests.
Positive change isn’t arbitrary. Homeowners and volunteer leaders need to pay attention, remain properly informed, and get engaged to deliver results. Condo Connection is here to deliver practical information that helps you make a difference.
Communicating effectively requires an accurate picture. Don’t confuse sound bites with due diligence. Become an expert and help us make an even bigger impact by:
letting us know what you need most
sharing this newsletter with your neighbors, friends and colleagues
The pandemic isn’t over, America. Covid is killing 500 Americans every day—mostly the oldest, frailest members of society. Indeed, about 9 in 10 US coronavirus deaths are among people over 65. Older people, Faye Flam writes in Bloomberg Opinion, feel left behind by 2023’s “back-to-normal” attitude. Epidemiologist Michael Osterholm, on a recent podcast, echoed the sentiments of America’s senior citizens, she writes. “We feel like our lives are almost seen as disposable,” he said. — Bloomberg Evening Briefing 02/09/23
View the latest COVID-19 coverage
TLDR: Lisa A. Downey, who owned and operated an HOA management business, was sentenced to 30 months in prison and 24 months of supervised release, plus $189,000 in restitution for her actions making unauthorized purchases, cash withdrawals, unjust enrichment for services and false statements to cover her tracks. Downey perpetrated her scheme from 2019 to 2020 across multiple HOAs located in Fort Wayne, IN.
Woman receives 30 months in prison for stealing funds from Fort Wayne neighborhoods
— Clayton McMahan | CBS 15 Fort Wayne | 02/08/23
The 235 residential unit Palm Bay Yacht Club 40 year recertification discovered $46,000,000 in repairs at a cost of $175,000 per unit during a 40yr recertification through an engineer hired by their management company. A second engineer hired by the homeowners advised the need for $23,000,000 in repairs.
The management company, ACAM, wanted to hire their sister company, Project Management Group, to complete the repairs.
Owners asked to pay $175,000 each toward Miami condo 40-year recertification
CBS Miami | 02/07/23
“We’ve known for a while that solar energy is the least costly way of generating renewable electricity. In most cases we can outcompete fossil fuels,” said Joshua Pearce, an engineering professor at Western University in Ontario, Canada, who has studied the possibility of installing solar panels on the roofs and parking lots of Walmart stores in the United States. Those alone would be able to generate about 11 gigawatts of electricity, he estimated, about the high end of the French effort. New French law will blanket parking lots with solar panels
— Michael Burnbaum | Washington Post | 02/06/23
“Community solar, very simply put, allows residential customers and even commercial customers — whether you’re a homeowner, tenant, condo dweller or whoever you are — to essentially subscribe to a local solar farm,” he says.
How to run your house on clean electricity, no solar panels required
— Emma Foehringer Merchant | The Washington Post | 02/09/23
Vertical solar panels could save farm land and transform agriculture
— Ameya Paleja | Interesting Engineering | 02/10/23
A Ukrainian entrepreneur built vertical solar panels for balconies
— Derya Ozdemir | Interesting Engineering | 07/19/22
Condominiums ARE one form of affordable housing. As of December 2022, the average condominium unit sales price in Seattle trailed single family home sales prices by $451,000.
“The housing market is the most interest-rate sensitive part of any economy, so it’s a very good lead of where the rest of the economy could be in quarters to come,” said Schroders fund manager James Ringer. Bloomberg 5 Things to Start Your Day | 02/01/23
No matter what happens, it is likely to be a slow year for the housing market. Housing activity remains down sharply from a year ago, when the Fed began to lift its benchmark rates to curb inflation. That pushed up mortgage rates at record speed, forcing buyers and sellers out of the market. Home sales fell for most of the past year, quickly snuffing out a boom from the height of the pandemic. Housing Market Shows Signs of Thawing — Ben Eisen | WSJ | 02/06/23
…it's worth being watchful for signs of housing stabilization and recovery. Yesterday, Mike Simonsen, CEO of Altos Research, noted that per his data homebuyers are already "defying expectations" and already-tight inventory is already dropping yet again.
Bloomberg 5 Things to Start Your Day | 02/14/23
CoreLogic updates its home price risk assessment for 392 U.S. housing markets
— Lance Lambert | Fortune | 02/04/23
Age Is Just a Number—Except When You’re Applying for a Mortgage
— Robyn A. Friedman | WSJ | 02/09/23
Property Taxes Are Going Up; Here's How to Lower Your Bill
— Veronica Dagher | WSJ | 02/05/23
This misinformed post about boomers led to a bit of research and some fun using the US Census MDAT tool to reveal who lives in various types of housing based on year of construction.
Please enjoy Housing Type by Age, Race, Sex and Year Built.
Also view Total Housing Units by Year Built + Units in Structure
You can create your own version of the table. Enjoy!
Take, for instance, a recent estimate done by the King County Regional Homelessness Authority that says ending homelessness in the county would take more than $8 billion to build tens of thousands of new housing units, plus up to $3.5 billion in annual operating costs. To put that in perspective, $8 billion is twice what Gov. Jay Inslee’s current budget proposal asks the state to borrow to build more affordable housing and shelters for all of Washington.
Homelessness by the Numbers — David Horsey | Seattle Times | 02/03/23
30 People Tell Us What Homelessness is Really Like — NYT | 02/11/23
Officially called the Point-in-Time Count, the annual tally of those who live outside or in homeless shelters takes place in every corner of the country through the last 10 days of January, and over the past dozen years has found 550,000 to 650,000 people experiencing homelessness. The endeavor is far from perfect, advocates note, since it captures no more than a few days and is almost certainly a significant undercount. But it’s a snapshot from which resources flow, and creates a shared understanding of a common problem.
The 2023 count will provide a crucial understanding of the legacy of the Covid-19 pandemic and the success of government efforts in blunting its effects. Last year’s count — 582,462 — showed homelessness was essentially flat from two years ago, a fact that Jeff Olivet, executive director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, attributed to widespread eviction moratoriums, billions in rental assistance and an expansion of federal housing vouchers that fortified the safety net. The question for this year, Mr. Olivet said, is “whether we were able to flatten the curve and even start pointing downwards.”
582,462 and Counting — NYT | 02/03/23
Housing is increasingly unaffordable across the United States.
One Solution to the Housing Crisis: Just Make People Rich
— Ginia Bellafante | NYT | 02/11/23
Opponents of the Water Street project have repeatedly pointed out that a series of proposals submitted in the 1980s, ’90s and early 2000s were all rejected by the landmarks commission on the grounds that in each case whatever was suggested created a visual confusion about the district’s outlines. But the argument that the commission should be bound to precedent ignores the altered realities of an increasingly alienating housing market that has escalated to a humanitarian emergency. In November roughly 67,000 people were sleeping in the city’s homeless shelters every night, more than six times the population in 1983. How do we weigh the view from the Brooklyn Bridge against that?
In Affordable Housing v. Parking Lot, a Judge Chooses the Lot
— Ginia Bellafante | NYT | 01/27/23
See how many all-cash buyers snagged houses in your neighborhood
— Emmanuel Martinez, Kevin Schaul & Hamza Shaban | WaPo | 02/09/23
We cover skyscrapers because humanity will continue building up and because multi-family residential development is key to affordable housing.
Landlords say New York City’s new laws will force dramatic changes. Unlike energy codes of the past, one of the key laws, which restricts pollution, doesn’t merely apply to new construction: Existing buildings, no matter how small or how old, must gradually comply and retrofit as well, potentially at eye-watering cost.
…landlords will be forced to look into an uncertain future and face stark choices.
New Skyscraper, Built to Be an Environmental Marvel, Is Already Dated
— Ben Ryder Howe | NYT | 02/14/23
N.B. Like NYC, the Seattle BEPS will require existing buildings to retrofit *at any cost.*
Liftbuild nears completion on remarkable "top-down" skyscraper — Loz Blain | 02/06/23
Millennium Tower Quake Safety Questions Linger Despite New Building Support
— Jaxon Van Derbeken | NBC Bay Area | 02/07/23
A Size Comparison of Existing and Planned Skyscrapers
— Lori Dorn | Laughing Squid | 02/03/23
Baxter, Mr. Steiner’s fluffy 10-year-old Shih-Poo, may only walk through the service entrance, where building rules insist all dogs squeeze alongside the Seamless deliveries, bicycles and moving crews. They may cross the lobby in one instance, Mr. Steiner said: carried by their owners.
Sorry, Dogs: The Lobby Is Off-Limits — Sara Maslin Nir | NYT | 02/03/23
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, it’s imperative to keep products that contain harmful chemicals or unsafe metals out of the municipal waste stream, where they can endanger the community and the environment. For many items, proper disposal is as easy as dropping them off at your city or county transfer station.
How to safely dispose of hazardous household materials
— Melanie D.G. Kaplan | Washington Post | 01/31/23
As wave after wave of atmospheric river storms slammed the city over the last month, green alleys were put to their first real test. The city received as much rainfall between the start of the rainy season in October and the end of January as it usually gets by the end of April. But as that deluge pummeled South L.A., the resulting stormwater had more opportunities to sink back into the earth: filtering through a row of permeable pavers, directing to pocket planters where creeping fig vines twirl up garage walls, or vanishing into grates labeled “drains to groundwater.”
L.A.’s ‘Green Alley’ Experiments Are Working — Alissa Walker | Curbed | 02/01/23
It’s rush hour on Wall Street, and Nathan Berman is at its very center: 55 Broad, the former offices of Goldman Sachs. But like many buildings in this age of working from home (not to mention the long-ago exodus north to Park Avenue and elsewhere), this onetime hub of capitalism is largely empty. Many of Berman’s rivals would be discouraged, but he’s thrilled. Berman transforms vacant office buildings into top-of-the-line apartments. At 63, he’s the king of office conversion. Bloomberg Evening Briefing | 02/06/23
Downtowns in major cities across the US are suffering from a lack of occupancy driven by a pandemic and technology-fueled move to remote work which in turn leads to:
corporations reigning in construction, office expansion and long-term leasing
less humans on the street
reduced retail patronage
reduced city tax income
challenges funding basic public services
downtown doom cycles
…But then the government subsidized construction of new housing downtown and the conversion of commercial buildings into apartments. Instead of spiraling downward, Lower Manhattan thrived. Similar measures, with a big infusion of state and federal money, might greatly ease the damage from remote work, he said.
“In a best-case scenario, we remove 30 or 40 percent of the office stock in New York City, turn it into wonderful housing… There are impediments to such a scenario, including the prohibitive costs of converting offices to apartments and zoning restrictions that bar residential construction…” The Prophet of Urban Doom Says New York Still Has a Chance
— John Leland | NYT | 02/08/23
Over the past quarter century Nathan Berman has developed a savant-like mastery of a peculiar trade in New York City property development: converting out-of-fashion office buildings into residential towers. “Right now, I bet you every major developer has a feasibility study on their desk on residential conversion…”
Turning offices into condos: New York after the pandemic
— Joshua Chaffin | Financial Times | 02/13/23
Some cities confront it head on: ‘Downtown … is not coming back’
— Danny Westneat | Seattle Times | 02/11/23
The Death of Downtown Research Brief — Chapple et. al. | School of Cities | Jan 2023
The Future of Downtowns — The Volcker Alliance | 01/19/23
City planners are questioning the point of parking garages
— Kevin J. Krizek & John Hersey | Ars Technica | 02/01/23
Three years into the pandemic, business leaders and city officials around the world are still trying just about everything to lure employees back into offices and revive local economies. But in a number of cities across the US, Fridays at the office are dead. Mondays aren’t much better, and returning to pre-pandemic work schedules looks like a lost cause.
That is being felt very keenly in Manhattan, where workers are spending at least $12.4 billion less a year due to about 30% fewer days in the office, according to a Bloomberg News analysis using exclusive data from Stanford University economist Nicholas Bloom’s WFH Research group. Bloomberg 5 Things to Start Your Day | 02/13/23
Energy Use: A Burning Debate
Natural Gas: Fasten Your Seat Belts
— Jinjoo Lee | WSJ | 02/11/23
Gas stove makers have a pollution solution. They're just not using it.
— Jeff Brady | NPR | 02/04/23
Worried about your gas stove? This comic will show you other ways to cook.
— Allyson Chiu & Christine Suggs | The Washington Post | 02/10/23
“The ‘electrify everything’ movement is moving forward across the Northeast and in other parts of the country with a vengeance,” Richard Carrione, a consultant paid by the National Oilheat Research Alliance, wrote last fall in an industry magazine. “It will be incumbent on our industry to educate and activate Mainers about the pitfalls of electrification,” he wrote, signing off: “The battle has just begun. Stay tuned.”
Heat pumps are defying Maine’s winters and oil industry pushback
— Anna Phillips | Washington Post | 02/07/23
Should you replace your gas stove with an induction cooktop? Here’s what you need to know
— Adele Peters | Fast Company | 01/24/23
Washing machines and fridges could be much cheaper to power by 2027
— Steven Mufson | The Washington Post | 02/10/23
Condo Connection's financial coverage is indexed to our Dollar$ and $ense page dedicated to all things CIC finance.
Condo Connection's financial coverage is indexed to our Dollar$ and $ense page dedicated to all things CIC finance.
What explains the big disconnect between survey-based data (which has been down in the dumps) vs. actual measures of economic activity, which remain robust?
— Bloomberg 5 Things to Start Your Day | 02/13/23
The US budget deficit is widening rapidly, raising the risk of the Treasury running out of cash earlier than expected amid a debt-ceiling standoff. The excess of spending over receipts totaled $459 billion for the first four months of the fiscal year, which started Oct. 1. That’s a $200 billion increase over the same period a year earlier.
— Bloomberg Evening Briefing 02/08/23
The consumer-price index, a widely used measure of inflation, moderated to 6.4% in January from a year earlier and down from 6.5% in December. But housing costs – which make up 40% of the index – rose 0.7% for the month and increased 7.9% from a year ago.
Today's CPI report revealed inflated cost of housing. What that means for rent, mortgages
— Swapna Venugopal Ramaswamy | WSJ | 02/14/23
Fed officials stressed the need for further interest-rate increases to help tame inflation, but differed over how close they are to stopping after new data showed signs of persistent price pressures. Richmond Fed President Thomas Barkin said in a Bloomberg TV interview that “if inflation persists at levels well above our target, maybe we’ll have to do more.” Dallas Fed President Lorie Logan flagged the need to “remain prepared to continue rate increases for a longer period than previously anticipated.” Meanwhile, Philadelphia Fed President Patrick Harker said he believes policymakers will need to raise interest rates above 5% and possibly higher.— Bloomberg 5 Things to Start Your Day | 02/15/23
As the US enters the third year of the pandemic, its economy isn’t done throwing curve balls:
The Federal Reserve’s rate hikes coupled with a return to “normalcy” by consumers have tamped down the housing market.
Silicon Valley behemoths like Meta, Alphabet and Yahoo are dismissing tens of thousands of their workers, with a particular focus on middle managers. Dell is eliminating about 6,650 jobs as it faces plummeting demand for personal computers.
And while more economists come around to the soft-landing school, a new theory about the US economy has appeared. Instead of a big downturn, the US might experience a slew of little ones, or a “rolling” series of micro-recessions where different sectors (like housing right now) experience a downturn at different times.
But even in the worst-case scenario, one where there’s an actual recession, further major waves of layoffs are increasingly unlikely, Kathryn A. Edwards writes in Bloomberg Opinion. “The tradeoff between short-term cost-cutting and human capital appears to be changing, as qualified workers become harder to find and hire,” she said.— Bloomberg Weekend Reading 02/11/23
Money market rates have stayed high so far this year, now averaging 4.18%, according to Crane Data LLC. That’s a big increase from just a few months ago, and investors who aren’t aware of the climb in rates—or who don’t act on it—could be missing out on an opportunity for much higher returns than they’re getting now on the cash in their brokerage accounts.
To see why, you have to understand so-called bank cash-sweep vehicles, which most big Wall Street brokerage firms use to handle the cash that comes into investors’ accounts.
Some Investors Are Missing Out on Higher Yields—and Don't Know It
— Randall Smith | WSJ | 02/05/23
Community banks are struggling most to match the higher rates offered by Treasurys and money-market funds, losing customers to those products. Many lenders are regularly tapping FHLB advances, longer-term borrowings backed by high-quality securities, and to some extent the Fed’s emergency lending facility—the discount window—to get cash onto their balance sheet.
Banks Borrow Unsecured Cash at Record Clip While Deposits Flee
— Eric Wallerstein | WSJ | 02/05/23
Money Market Yields as of 02/13/23
“Sideways from here, you make money in bonds,” DoubleLine Capital’s Jeffrey Sherman said on Bloomberg Television’s “ETF IQ” from the ETF Exchange conference in Miami this week. “This idea that rates have to go down for you to make money, it’s just not true, especially when you have yield. There’s income out there.”
That’s the beauty of bonds — investors can merrily clip coupons and collect a steady stream of income even if the debt doesn’t actually appreciate in price. That’s the bedrock of many of this year’s bullish fixed-income calls, with yields on Treasury bills at multi-decade highs.
— Katie Greifeld | Bloomberg 5 Things to Start your Day | 02/10/23
Our relatively new Legislation page has expanded even over the past two weeks.
Washington State legislators are mulling multiple bills that will impact YOU.
Despite rumors to the contrary, none of the bills under consideration will strip volunteers of immunity and/or D&O protections. Get the facts!
City of Seattle: JUST SAY NO to premature electrification. The Seattle BEPS will require your building to retrofit to get to net zero *at any cost.*
Please contact us if you’re aware of legislation to feature from YOUR state!
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