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Piece by Piece Update

May 23, 2012





Please take note of the following news and calendar items.


Rental Market Soars Across the Country

andp brown(Courtesy of National Housing Conference) In a struggling housing market, increasing rents make for a grimmer picture. Families foreclosed upon and young workers previously doubled up with parents are being pushed into a competitive rental market, making for "rental sticker shock not seen in years." The
Los Angeles Times reports that rents are soaring across the country in the largest metropolitan areas. "The average monthly U.S. rent for apartments hit $1,008 in the first quarter, pushing past the all-time high set in the third quarter of 2008, according to the data firm RealFacts." In some markets, owning a home is cheaper than renting. The Center for Housing Policy's Housing Landscape 2012 found a 4% nationwide increase in rents from 2008 to 2010 while incomes declined during that same time period. Read more on NHC's Open House blog.



Despite Rental Trend; Americans Still Dream of Homeownership


(Adapted from Dow Jones Newswire):   Most Americans still hope to own a home, but that home will be smaller than the MacMansions of the housing boom, according to a new study recently released by the Demand Institute division of the U.S. Conference Board.  Housing and the related mortgage industry helped to tip the U.S. into the Great Recession. Data suggest the sector is bottoming out, but its recovery will be unlike that of past business cycles, according to the Demand Institute's report, entitled "The Shifting Nature of U.S. Housing Demand." 


The first stage of this recovery will be led by rental properties. As a result, new construction will be concentrated in multi-unit projects, a shift already evident in 2012 data. At the same time, speculators hoping to cash in on increasing rents will buy up vacant properties with an eye to leasing them, helping to pare down the huge oversupply of existing homes on the market. 


Homeownership isn't dead, however, argued Louise Keely, chief research officer at the Institute. It will simply be delayed, because consumers are still repairing their finances, and reconfigured, because big is no longer better in housing.  The report projected that the average size of a newly built home will shrink to 2,150 square feet by 2015 from a housing-boom high of 2,500 square feet.  Keely also said banks could develop financial products that help renters go from leasing to owning. This is because, after all the havoc wreaked by the housing sector on the economy and many consumers' individual finances, homeownership remains a key goal for many Americans. The report cited a Pew Research survey that showed 80% of respondents still think buying a home is the best long-term investment they can make.  www.demandinstitute.org.



HUD Regional Administrator Ed Jennings, Jr. and U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson Featured on AJC Opinion Page


The housing crisis and viable solutions for recovery were the featured hot topic on the AJC's Opinion Page last week with pieces authored by HUD Region 4 Administrator Ed Jennings, Jr. and U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson.



CredAbility: Georgia Households Among the Most Financially Distressed in the Country

Georgia ranked second in the country in overall consumer distress according to the most recent Consumer Distress Index published quarterly by CredAbility.  CredAbility's Consumer Distress Index measures the financial condition of the average U.S. household by measuring five categories:  employment; housing; credit; household budget; and net worth.  On a local level, Atlanta ranked fourth among the most consumer distressed metro areas in the country following Tampa-St. Pete, Detroit, and Miami. MORE


Changes to HomeSafe Georgia

The AJC reported on recent changes and adjustments to eligibility standards to HomeSafe Georgia, a program to help unemployed Georgians avoid foreclosure.  HomeSafe Georgia, an initiative funded through the U.S. Treasury's Hardest Hit Funds, is implemented by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs.
The program's goal is to save 18,000 Georgians from foreclosure. Nearly 900 have been aided by the program so far, while nearly 2,600 have been deemed ineligible, according to the most recent quarterly report.   Georgia received about $340 million of the Hardest Hit Fund, a $7.6 billion-dollar effort geared toward the 19 states with the highest levels of foreclosure. The program runs through 2017.  MORE 



ARC Hosts "Wireside Chats" to Inform Metro Residents About the Transportation Referendum


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On July 31, metro Atlantans will have the opportunity to vote on a referendum that will fund $8.5 billion in transportation improvements through a regional one-percent sales tax. The Atlanta Regional Commission will host a series of 12 Wireside Chats over six evenings in June to help voters understand what projects are on the list and how the penny tax would impact their communities. Local officials will be on the phone to answer questions during each chat.   In order to participate, register your name and phone number at www.wiresidechats.com and be available at the designated time on the number you provide. With more than 150 projects on the list, this is a unique opportunity to learn the details and make an educated decision on July 31.



It's Official!  Georgia Land Bank Bill Signed by Governor


(Courtesy of Chris Norman) Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signed SB284 on Thursday, May 3, 2012.  The new law will become effective on July 1, 2012.  The Georgia Association of Land Bank Authorities will provide updates regarding the transition to the new law.



Look for Atlanta Housing Demand to Rise with Positive Employment Figures


andp brown(Courtesy of Metrostudy): The Atlanta housing market could see a rise in demand with positive employment figures on the way, according to a recent report by Metrostudy, a national housing intelligence and consulting firm that maintains the most extensive primary database on residential construction in the US housing market. New jobs in Atlanta through March 2012 increased by 27,400 positions. "Forecasters are predicting net employment gains in Atlanta for 2012 above 30,000," said Eugene James, director of Metrostudy's Atlanta Region. www.metrostudy.com



Regional Neighborhood Stabilization Program: 
A Region Responds

We continue to receive requests for the regional report published by ARC and Piece by Piece providing an overview of NSP1 implementation and best practices in metro Atlanta.  For your convenience, a high-resolution (20MB in size) version of the report can be obtained HERE


Volunteers Still Needed!

The U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), as part of the Obama Administration's Making Home Affordable Program, are partnering with the HOPE NOW Alliance and NeighborWorks America® to bring a free homeowner event to the area. These events are designed to help bring together homeowners in financial distress for a face-to-face meeting with a representative from their mortgage lender and/or local housing counselor.


Georgia International Convention Center (GICC)

Exhibit Hall B

2000 Convention Center Concourse

College Park, GA 30337

Friday, June 1, 2012 * 1:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.

Saturday, June 2, 2012 * 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.


Volunteers are critical to the success of the event. 50 volunteers per shift are needed to help with registration, exit surveys, directional guidance, translation and additional assistance that helps the day run smoothly for the homeowner. Volunteers will be provided with an event t-shirt, be fed, and receive free parking.  Approximately 500-750 homeowners are expected to attend. If you have any questions or are interested in volunteering for this Foreclosure Prevention effort, please contact Sheila Squier at sheila.squier@gmail.com ASAP.



Calendar Items

This is NOT Your Parent's Housing Market! Atlanta Regional Housing Forum; June 6; 9:30 AM, Loudermilk Center - The June 6 Housing Forum will feature a presentation by Dr. Arthur C. Nelson and will review how changing demographics, economics, and financing are changing Americans' preferences for housing, neighborhoods and communities. It will also synthesize several national housing preference surveys to show that what Americans want now is very different from what they wanted just a generation ago. The presentation will show the mismatch between what Americans want and what they have, and summarize options to close the gap.  Register Now






Susan Adams

Piece by Piece Coordinator  



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