Kesiena

Berlin Housing Crisis sparks Rent cap Proposal

German chancellor Angela Merkel has promised an additional €5 billion to fund affordable apartments to combat the country’s growing housing crisis.

Her announcement came as Berlin’s city government considers legislation next week for a five-year rent cap. On Friday, meanwhile, a citizens’ initiative cleared the first hurdle for a referendum that could force large property investors in the German capital to sell their holdings to the government.

Dr Merkel’s federal government has no direct responsibility for housing but she promised new subsidies to state and local authorities who ensure that “really every euro is spent in this area” of affordable housing.

At a gathering of German tenants’ associations in Cologne, the centre-right leader argued it was the role of the state to “create a climate” for home-building rather than intervene in the market such as with Berlin’s rent cap.

This proposal has spooked stock markets, where many institutional property investors are listed, but delighted locals in Berlin, where new rents have spiked 117 per cent since 2007.

Berlin’s city state government will discuss next week the proposal pushed by the city’s urban development senator Katrin Lompscher of the Left Party, successor to East Germany’s communist party. Leaks suggest the proposal, if implemented, could freeze rents of up to 1.6 million apartments in the German capital.

But Ms Lompscher’s push to cap rents could, paradoxically, lead to another spike, with one landlord lobby group urging its members on its website: “Whatever you do, increase rents before June 17th.”

Ms Lompscher criticised that as an “appalling signal” but has suggested the cap will be flexible, varying on age, condition and fit-out of the building.

In addition she tells Saturday’s Der Spiegel that landlords will be allowed recalibrate rents based on local rent tables, but “from a time when the market wasn’t out of control”.

Legal threat

Property owner lobby groups remain unconvinced, though, and have vowed legal action against proposed legislation one group said “screams of unconstitutionality”.

Germany’s tenant organisations have welcomed the idea of a five-year rent cap, but are cautious after a previous proposal – a rent brake – proved ineffective due to legal loopholes.

Berlin’s rents – and housing crisis – have grown in parallel with the arrival of investors, most visibly a decade ago during the banking euro crisis. They saw in the German capital’s property market a relatively undervalued safe haven for their capital.

Private investors from Ireland to Israel along with US hedge funds piled into the market, alongside older Germans and their pension funds.

The search for profit in real estate, after decades of low demand and rents, has sparked a culture shock among Berliners.

Now a citizens’ protest movement has targeted institutional investors such as Deutsche Wohnen, which has 110,000 apartments in the capital on which it earned nearly €1.7 billion in 2017.

Its shares slumped nearly 9 per cent at news of the proposed rent cap and referendum push.

Referendum push

On Friday, Berlin campaigners handed more than 70,000 signatures it had collected since April – they needed only 20,000 to force a referendum to force Berlin’s city government to legislate for expropriations.

Though just the first stage in a lengthy process, campaigners are confident their move is in line with Germany’s post-war constitutional provision for expropriations “for the public good”.

Squeezed between talk of rent caps and expropriation, investors accused Berlin’s state government of adopting populist measures to distract from their political failure on housing for long-term Berliners – and 60,000 new arrivals each year.

Complicating the debate: many institutional investors, including Deutsche Wohnen, bought their housing stock from Berlin’s city-state government 15 years ago, during a sell-off to fill holes in the city state’s budget.

Disagreement surrounds the cost and implications of the expropriation referendum, with some placing the cost of buying out institutional investors at up to €36.6 billion.

Investor and landlord lobby groups argue that expropriation will create no new apartments while that, and the rent cap, will kill off investor interest in Berlin.

On Friday, in the next twist in Germany’s housing crisis debate, a senior Social Democratic Party (SPD) politician suggested a country-wide version of Berlin’s rent cap proposal – and promised to push for it at Dr Merkel’s cabinet table.

Source: irishtimes

There’s a Lifestyle Penalty for Renting in Canada — it doesn’t have to be so

When Juliane Lorenz and her husband started renting a bungalow in Etobicoke, just west of Toronto, after their first child was born, she did not think much of it. Renting is the norm in her native Germany, where the homeownership rate is less than 50 per cent.

Others, though, were puzzled by Lorenz’s choice. Was the family ever going to buy a home?

“Even the way people talk about it here — saying ‘oh, are you just renting?’ — implies so much,” she said. “It’s always seen as a step down.”

Lorenz, who married a Canadian, has a degree in architecture and wrote her dissertation on Toronto’s urban sprawl. So she wasn’t entirely unaware of Canadians’ cultural prejudice against renting. But she never expected that the experience itself would be so much worse than renting in Germany.

Lorenz has had issues with the maintenance and upkeep of the property her family rents. But the final blow came a few weeks ago, when the couple received a 60-day notice that they’d have to vacate the property — after seven years of renting.

The family will be moving out in July and heading to Germany, Lorenz said.

Why can’t renting be as good as owning in Canada?

With more and more young families shut out of the housing market in cities like Vancouver and Toronto, more Canadians are entertaining the idea of being lifelong renters. Arguments in favour of renting have gained a spotlight in the public debate in recent years, most notably with Alex Avery’s popular book, The Wealthy Renter.

Proponents of perpetual renting make a simple point: with rent usually a lot cheaper than the carrying cost of owning a comparable home, you can build wealth by investing the difference in the stock market.

 

But the mathematical argument for renting leaves out the lifestyle penalties that tenants like Lorenz are subject to in a country that has been championing homeownership for decades.

Almost 70 per cent of the housing stock in Canada belongs to homeowners, a share that’s higher than in the U.S. and the U.K. On the other hand, Germany stands at the opposite end of the spectrum, with owner-occupied housing making up just 45 per cent of total housing, according to data compiled by the University of Toronto’s Neighbourhood Change Research Partnership.

 

Renters in Canada face a number of hurdles. Finding a place, for one, is often a struggle in itself. The vacancy rate for rental housing dipped to 2.4 per cent in 2018, below its 10-year average of three per cent, according to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). While the country added some 37,000 new purpose-built rental apartments last year, demand for rental units increased by 50,000.

This is putting pressure on rents, especially in condominiums. According to the latest CMHC estimates, renting an average two-bedroom condo in and around Vancouver and Toronto cost more than $2,000 a month, which doesn’t leave much room to save in two cities where the median household income is below $80,000 a year, according to Statistics Canada.

And when growing families look for a home bigger than a two-bedroom — or something with a backyard maybe — they often find even fewer options.

WATCH: Understanding rent-to-own arrangements

 

Some point the finger at rent control policies that, they say, make it less profitable for companies to build rental properties and discourage landlords from spending money on maintenance and upgrades.

“More activity will be diverted toward condo construction, a segment of the market that is much more immune to rent control as condo owners have multiple avenues to require a tenant to leave,” CIBC economist Benjamin Tal predicted in 2017, when the Liberal government of former Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne was about to re-introduce sweeping rent controls.

“Reduced motivation to invest in maintenance will lower the living standards of tenants on an ongoing basis,” Tal continued. “Unit hoarding will become the norm, creating a static market — clearly a suboptimal outcome for a rapidly growing city.”

(The Conservative government of premier Doug Ford has since rolled back the policy to exclude new buildings.)

Others, though, blame the dearth of quality rental units on zoning laws and the condo boom.

For the first couple of decades after the Second World War, all urban areas designated for the construction of high-density housing tended to be, by default, reserved for rental units, according to David Hulchanski, professor of housing and community development at the University of Toronto.

But with the introduction of provincial regulators introducing the condominium form of homeownership in the early 1970s, condos became competition for purpose rental housing in those same high-density areas, Hulchanski said. And, over time, condos edged out rentals.

 

Condominiums, where you own your unit and co-own shared elements of the building, offered wealthier apartment dwellers an attractive road to homeownership that wouldn’t compromise their lifestyle, Hulchanski said.

“If you wanted to live in the 1960s or 1950s in a building overlooking Stanley Park [in Vancouver], you had to be a renter,” he said. Today, though, similarly-coveted apartments tend to be condos, he added.

That helps explain why the share of renters in the top 20 per cent of the income distribution has shrunk from 14 per cent to five per cent since the late 1960s, Hulchanski said.

Today, over half of renter households are in the bottom 40 per cent on the income ladder, data shows. That, in turn, discourages the construction of purpose-rental buildings, which has become less profitable, according to Hulchanski.

“Since renters have about half the income of homeowners, condo developers can always outbid rental developers for residential sites,” he wrote in a 2007 research report.

The situation hasn’t changed much since, he told Global News.

 

Germany: a nation of renters

Renting is a starkly different story in Germany. There, over half of the housing market is made up of private rentals, compared to less than 30 per cent in Canada, according to CMHC data.

 

The German market’s heavy skew toward rentals has its roots in the post-war period, when much of the country’s housing stock had been destroyed and few Germans had the financial means to become homeowners. But the country’s love affair with renting did not fade away as incomes rose.

That’s because Germany was able to strike a balance between the interest of tenants and that of landlords, according to Michael Voigtländer, a housing policy expert at the German Economic Institute in Cologne.

On the one hand, for example, tenants can usually count on so-called “indefinite rental agreements.” With few exceptions — such as when tenants break their contract or when the landlord needs the property for herself or her immediate family — there’s no threat of being kicked out.

But there are also incentives for landlords, who can, for example, sell their rental properties tax-free, like homeowners, after 10 years, Voigtländer said. In general, Germany strives to pursue a “neutral housing policy” that doesn’t favour homeownership over renting.

That, along with an abundance of wealthy tenants with stable jobs, has made it very attractive to own property to let, with individual landlords making up about 60 per cent of the market and the rest split between private corporations, cooperatives and state-owned entities, Voigtländer said.

Another thing that works for both landlords and tenants in Germany is rent control, according to Andrew Allen of Aberdeen Standards Investments, which owns $6.5 billion worth of rental property in the country. Regulation that links rents to the rate of inflation makes for gradual and predictable price changes, which helps reduce tenant turnover and keep landlords happy.

“German tenants tend to stay in our properties for an average of around eight years,” Allen recently wrote in the Financial Times. In turn, “the stability of longer tenancies and rent control helps to attract institutional investors like us.”

To be sure, Germany is having its own issues with rent control. As demand for rentals outstrips supply in Berlin and other major cities, pushing up prices, the country has been experimenting with rules that impose new caps on rent increases based on the average level of local rents and that oblige the landlord to inform new tenants if the previous rent was below average, among other measures.

Voigtländer fears many of the new regulations will prove unenforceable and is skeptical of whether they would work even if landlords and tenants stick to the letter of the law.

Looking from the outside, though, Allen seems to think rent control in Germany is still a success story.

“Rent control is not a panacea, but it is certainly not the villain,” he concluded in his opinion piece. “Our German experience shows that it could help solve housing problems in the U.K. and elsewhere if done properly.”

For her part, Lorenz is ready to go back home.

The family has set its eyes on a brand-new, three-story unit in a triplex near Hamburg that they hope will become their new home later this summer.

Lorenz said the thing she looks forward to the most is knowing that no one else will have a key to the property.

“That makes me feel like a child every time,” Lorenz said. Then she added: “I hate being a renter in Canada.”

But her North American ordeal hasn’t completely spoiled her outlook on being a tenant. The new home in Germany is still going to be a rental.

Source: globalnews

Program Creates Affordable Housing for Home Buyers

 Sharon Ford got her the keys to her first home Friday afternoon. The home has been renovated from top-to-bottom and remained affordable, thanks to a project by the Port Authority and a loan from the Greater Cincinnati Foundation.

“I know. I was excited to finally say, ‘Wow, this was ours. We get to put our stamp on it,’” Ford said as she stood in the kitchen of her new home.

The house sits on Jonathan Avenue. Ford purchased it for $145,000. A second house two doors down is also pending for the same amount. Both homes were renovated by the Port Authority. Now Ford, her fiance and her 10-year-old son, Avery, will move into a house instead of renting an apartment, which cost them more than a mortgage payment.

“I’m excited to have a backyard. I’m going to put a standalone hammock back there,” Ford said.

A $1-million loan from the Greater Cincinnati Foundation has enabled the Port Authority to renovate the homes, bring them up to code and sell them at a price homeowners can afford. Vice Mayor Christopher Smitherman attended the ribbon cutting for the Fords’ home.

Smitherman said Evanston used to have the highest rate of home ownership by African-Americans and this renovation is the “shot in the arm” the neighborhood needed. He said Jonathan Avenue connects the neighborhood to Walnut Hills and Xavier University.

“It’s a very important artery. So repopulating it and stabilizing it with affordable housing is awesome. So this is the beginning of building a solid community,” Smitherman said.

Evanston has had problems with crime in the past. District 2 police Capt. Aaron Jones remembers starting his career patrolling Evanston. He’s glad to see it improving.

“As a young officer, I went from robbery to robbery to gun run to shooting,” Jones said. “Twenty-one years later as the captain, I’m going to groundbreaking, ribbon cutting, social events. Just to see the landscape and everything in the community change, it’s amazing.”

Evanston’s a work in progress and still has some issues, but it’s getting better. And now Ford calls the neighborhood home.

“I’m ready to do everything in here. I’m ready to make some lemonade and give it to my friends and have a barbeque,” Ford said.

The Port Authority is renovating homes in Walnut Hills, Bond Hill and Roselawn. The Fords’ home is the 36th property the Port has rehabilitated or built in Evanston since 2013.

Source: local12

Foreign investment into Nigeria drops by 43% – UN report

Foreign direct investment in Nigeria, Africa’s top oil producer, plunged by 43 per cent to $2bn, according to a United Nations report.

Reuters reported on Thursday that investors were put off by a dispute between the government and South African telecom giant MTN over repatriated profits. Banks HSBC and UBS both closed representative offices there in 2018.

That left Ghana, which is in the midst of an oil and gas boom and saw inflows of $3bn, as West Africa’s leading destination for foreign investment. Italy’s Eni Group was behind Ghana’s largest greenfield investment project.

Foreign investment in sub-Saharan Africa rose by 13 per cent last year to $32bn, bucking a global downward trend and reversing two years of decline, according to the UN report.

It said the development of new mining and oil projects, a new US development-finance institution and the ratification of an agreement to create a continent-wide free-trade area could further boost foreign direct investment in 2019.

Africa stands in sharp contrast to developed economies, which saw FDI inflows plunge by 27 per cent to their lowest level since 2004, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development wrote in its ‘World Investment Report’.

Some African countries fared better than others, however. The Southern Africa region performed the best, taking in FDI of nearly $4.2bn, up from $925m in 2017. Foreign investment in South Africa more than doubled to $5.3bn.

 

President Cyril Ramaphosa, who took office last year pledging to revive the economy, is seeking to attract $100bn in FDI to Africa’s most developed economy by 2023.

Though much of the South African jump came from intracompany loans, new investments included a $750m Beijing Automotive Group plant and a $186m wind farm being built by the Irish company Mainstream Renewable Energy.

Ethiopia remained East Africa’s top recipient of FDI at $3.3bn, despite an 18 per cent drop compared with the year before.

Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania all saw increases in FDI inflows. Foreign investment in Uganda jumped 67 per cent to a record $1.3bn, boosted by the oil and gas development of a consortium that includes France’s Total, CNOOC of China and London-listed Tullow Oil.

The creation of the US International Development Finance Corporation could help support FDI inflows this year. A replacement for the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, it will be have a budget of $60bn and a mandate to make equity investments.

“The ratification of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement could also have a positive effect on FDI, especially in the manufacturing and services sectors,” the report said.

Source: Punchng

Warri Collapsed Building: Owner was Using Substandard Materials- Neighbours

The building which was few metres away from the Secretariat of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, Warri Correspondents Chapel, crumbled around 1:10 p.m., according to an eyewitness.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that no life was lost in the incident.

Mr Olusegun Awodiyi, Chairman, Marine Quarters, who spoke on behalf of the residents, said they had warned the owner of the building that the foundation was not strong enough to carry a two-storey building.

According to Awoniyi who claimed that the building materials used were substandard, the owner of the building whose name was not given, rebuffed them and said he was a certified engineer.

He said,“The workers have not been around for some days, so we thank God that no life was lost.

“The Delta Government should come and take a critical look at another house belonging to the same owner of the collapsed building to avoid another one collapsing and possibly leading to death.”

Mr Samuel Owoputi, who owns a building besides the collapsed structure, said two of his children who were sleeping in his room narrowly escaped death as the incident also affected the room.

According to him, the collapsed building had been giving signs since Wednesday.

Mrs Divine Iniovosa, the Vice Chairman of the Local Government Area who visited the scene, said the owner of the building would be invited to the council secretariat for questioning.

Iniovosa claimed that from all indications, the materials used for the building were substandard, adding that it was built without the service of a qualified engineer.

“We thank God that no life was lost. From what I am seeing, it shows that the materials used were poor and the owner did not engage a qualified engineer to do the job.

“As a council, we are going to invite the owner to come and tell us what happened; but for now, I will report to the council chairman what I have seen.

“My people from the Town Planning Departments have drawn our attention to this building and they told the man to stop the building. I am not surprised that this has happened.

“The owner of this house probably did not want to live in it, otherwise, he would not use these poor materials to build this house,” she said.

Iniovosa advised prospective builders to engage the services of qualified engineers and also use standard materials for their buildings.

“People should engage the services of engineers before starting their building. They should also use quality building materials so that their house will stand the test of time,” she said.

(NAN)

America’s Battle Over Housing Is Just Getting Started

The surest way to bring down costs is to build more. Lots of people won’t like that.

Many people recently made fun of a photo posted on Twitter taken in a prosperous neighborhood in Washington. In front of a house were signs supporting various progressive causes, and one declaring that “No matter where you are from, we’re glad you’re our neighbor.”

Beside these was a sign opposing the construction of a new apartment building in the neighborhood. Apparently the residents’ enthusiasm for their neighbors did not extend to potential new ones.

This humorous juxtaposition illustrates just how hard it will be to solve the U.S. housing crisis. Across the country, rents have risen faster than incomes:

In cities such as Washington, which are increasingly important hubs for upper-middle-class knowledge workers, the rise has been even larger.

One obvious response would be to build more housing. Progressives often advocate for a return to government-constructed public housing, or for government-subsidized apartments, while decrying the construction of market-rate units. But evidence shows that even luxury housing can help alleviate the burden on lower-income renters, since it draws high-income occupants who would otherwise gentrify existing communities.

In any case, many cities and neighborhoods are having none of it — whether a new development is public, subsidized or market-rate, existing homeowners tend to oppose it, for a variety reasons that range from the innocuous to the unsavory. Local homeowners tend to wield disproportionate political power, while prospective new residents outside of a community don’t get any vote at all. Thus, the political system is strongly stacked against action on housing at the local level.

The obvious solution is to go over the heads of local governments, and force action at the state level. But even there, progress has been stymied by the power of politicians whose communities don’t want more construction. A recent poll of Californians found that 62 percent favored requiring areas near transit hubs to allow multifamily construction. But a bill in the state legislature that would have implemented exactly this policy ran into opposition and was shelved. Housing advocates will continue trying to implement pro-density policies in California, but they will be fighting an uphill battle.

But state governments don’t have the final say over housing policy; that belongs to the federal government. A national movement is slowly building to use federal power to reward communities that allow greater housing density, and punish those that forbid it. One surprising voice in favor of federal action has been Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson. But the forces gathering on the left of the political spectrum may turn out to be much more important.

Presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren, famous for detailed policy ideas, released a plan in March designed to tackle the housing crisis. In characteristic fashion, Warren’s American Housing and Economic Mobility Act marries smart deregulation with increased government spending targeted at the poor. It would create a new federal grant program that would only go to regions that change their zoning rules to allow increased density.

it would invest about $50 billion a year in housing for the poor, through agencies called the Housing Trust Fund and Capital Magnet Funds, which also would seek to leverage additional private investment. The plan would also help poor and black homebuyers with down payments, crack down on racial housing discrimination and curb the ability of large financial companies to own concentrations of rental properties.

These are all good policies and I’ve called for some form of all of them in the past. Another plan, by the think tank Data for Progress, includes many of these elements but would go even further, making transportation funding contingent on making zoning practices more inclusionary, limiting tax deductions for landowners, taxing empty homes and exploring land value taxes. These are all solid ideas, and they probably influenced later iterations of Warren’s plan.

Data for Progress’s plan also includes some elements that should be approached with caution: a major expansion of public housing and strict rent-control measures. Government-run public housing has a spotty record, and public housing has been blamed for concentrating poverty, increasing crime and reducing economic opportunity.

There are encouraging signs that public housing can be redesigned to reduce some of these problems, but it would be wise to make sure these work at scale before committing the entire nation to such a program. Meanwhile, rent control is a mixed bag, helping some low-income people at the expense of others, so there are reasons to go slow there as well.

Many of these plans are a move in the right direction. They represent a multipronged attack on one of the country’s most urgent and intractable problems, and incorporate smart ideas that urbanists have long advocated. If local and state governments can’t make the rent go down, then the biggest government of them all might need to step in.

Source: bloomberg

Why Housing Trust Funds Became Unifiers

Local Tools to Address Housing Affordability: A State-by-State Analysis is the fifth annual report produced in partnership with the 49 state municipal leagues. This post is part of a series highlighting findings from this new report.

When it comes to figuring out how to improve housing affordability, cities and states have often found themselves at odds with each other. Housing trust funds, however, have been the rare exception.

Established by legislation or ordinance, these funds are ongoing, public funding for the development of low-income housing. They have been a primary source of funding for affordable housing creation in this country.

Housing trust funds create a unique opportunity for state- and city-level governments to work together and support each other’s efforts to create more affordable housing. Unlike with other tools in the affordable housing toolbox, hurdles like state preemption and competing for funding sources are not an issue. While state funds are often larger, some city governments have also created very robust funds. According to the Housing Trust Fund Project, in 2018 local funds in 109 cities and the District of Columbia totaled over $1 billion.

One example of a successful city-level housing trust fund can be seen in Juneau, Alaska, a city with a population of just over 30,000.

Juneau determined that 85 percent of its residents made less than $35,000 and that, in 2010, approximately 1,200 households were rent-burdened. Many of the residents in this category were found to be youth, special needs residents, veterans and seniors.

That year, the city established a housing trust fund, seeking to fill a local need for more affordable housing options in the absence of a state-level fund. The fund seeks to expand:

  • Use of capital to develop housing units
  • The number of one-bedroom rental units for low-income residents
  • Long-term affordability

Ultimately, the city is working to ensure the trust fund remains sustainable. With over $400,000 in the fund and two years’ worth of operating costs in reserve, Juneau is tackling the need for affordable housing for its residents, with a particular focus on workforce housing to ensure that Juneau workers have affordable housing options.

Forty-seven states and the District of Columbia have state-level housing trust funds in place to bolster development of affordable housing. Local city- and county-level funds are also an extremely important part of the housing trust fund landscape. In our analysis of housing affordability tools, we found that:

  • 33 states and the District of Columbia have both state and city-level trust funds
  • 14 states have state-level housing trust funds but no city-level funds

 

  • 2 states do not have state-level funds but do have city-level funds
  • 1 state does not have state- or city-level funds
StateCityFunds_title.png
Source: National League of Cities

Housing trust funds provide vital funding for increasing the stock of affordable housing in cities, towns and villages across the country. State- and city-level trust funds are, in many cases, complementary funds that increase the development of affordable housing and work in tandem with other housing policies to meet the specific needs of the local population.

They’re proof that, when cities and states can work together on tried-and-true policies, all communities can benefit.

Source: citiesspeak

Canada Housing Market Begins to Shake Off Slump

Data for May indicates pickup in real-estate sales after slowdown fueled by policies to curb borrowing

Canada’s real-estate market appears to be turning the corner after a yearlong-plus slump, fueled by government efforts to tamp down runaway housing prices and slow the pace of consumer borrowing.

The latest data from the Canadian Real Estate Association indicates sales rose 1.9% in May from the previous month, to reach the highest level since January of last year. Actual sales, or not seasonally adjusted, climbed 6.7% from May a year ago, the largest 12-month advance since the summer of 2016.

In a separate release, the association, which represents real-estate agents across Canada, updated its forecast for this year and next, and now expects a recovery in home sales to gain momentum in the second half of 2019. It now projects national home sales to rise 1.2% in 2019, versus its previous call for a 1.6% decline. The forecast attributes the change to government measures aimed at helping younger people buy houses, and indications that Bank of Canada won’t raise interest rates again this year.

Nonetheless, CREA said in its revised outlook, it expects the overall level of sales to remain well below activity from recent years, due to successive policy changes that continue to limit mortgage financing and damp housing-market sentiment.

Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz said last month he expected Canadian housing to return to growth in the latter half of 2019. He said tougher mortgage rules introduced by Canadian authorities at the start of 2018 have had their desired effect, in slowing down both runaway prices in markets such as Toronto and Vancouver, and the pace of borrowing. Canadian households are among the most highly indebted in the developed world.

Mr. Poloz added that Canadians are adapting to the new rules, which require all prospective home buyers to prove they can handle higher interest rates, by either delaying purchases or opting to buy cheaper residences.

Friday’s real-estate data indicated a gauge measuring benchmark house prices in Canada fell slightly in May from a year ago, down 0.6%. On a three- and five-year basis, Canadian benchmark house prices increased by a healthy 17.7% and 38.7% pace, respectively.

Vancouver, which was the epicenter of housing-market frothiness prior to 2018, recorded a 7.8% year-over-year drop in house prices in May, the real-estate association said. Toronto, meanwhile, recorded a house-price increase of 3.1% in May, helping offset the sluggishness in Vancouver. Other notable markets posting strong house-price gains include Montreal, up 6.3%, and Ottawa, Canada’s capital, up 8%.

Source: wsj

Three Children, Two Others Rescued from Collapsed Building in Kano

Kano State Fire Service on Friday rescued three children and two adults trapped in a building, which collapsed at Dandago Babban Baki in Gwale Local Government Area of the state.

Alhaji Saidu Mohammed, spokesman of the service, who said this in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria in Kano said that the house was one storey building.

Mohammed disclosed that a three-year-old boy was among those rescued.

“We received a distress call on Friday from one Malam Hamza Idris at about 3:19 p.m. that a building has collapsed.

“Upon receiving the information, we quickly dispatched firemen to the scene at about 3:27 p.m.,’’ he said.

Mohammed gave the names of the victims as Abduljabbar Murtala, 7, Walid Inusa, 10, Hanif Murtala, 3, Akailu Alkassim, 22 and Nasir Ibrahim, 35.

He said that the victims who sustained injuries were taken to the Murtala Muhammed Specialist Hospital, Kano, for treatment.

(NAN)

Nigeria, S’Africa, 3 Others Most Active Smart Cities in Africa

The Managing Director: Central Africa at SAP Africa, Pedro Guerreiro said that the Global Mobile for System Communication (GSMA) data, the number of active tech hubs in Africa has grown to 442, which equals 50 per cent increase between 2014 and 2018. 

Guerreiro said that the hubs are found mostly in the more advanced African economies of South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Egypt and Morocco, that often lay the foundation for what looks set to become one of the defining urban trends of our time, the rise of smart cities.

According to him, this trend is partly driven by Africa’s relatively small urban population. Stemming from a UN data only 40 per cent of the sub-Saharan African population live in cities.

“Large metropolis such as Lagos and Cairo are expected to grow massively over the coming years as more people move from rural regions. Lagos alone is expected to have a population of 88 million by the end of the century, making it possibly the most populous city in the world.

“Across the continent – from Konza Technological City in Kenya to Eko Atlantic in Nigeria to Vision City in Rwanda – governments are launching ambitious smart cities; multi-billion-dollar tech developments that champion the use of technology in urban management and appeal to the younger, more digitally savvy generation typical of the continent.

“If Africa is to harness the talent of its fast growing youth population and power its economic growth, these developments are necessary.

The median age in Africa is 19.5, and its youth population is expected to more than double between 2015 and 2055 to reach 226 million. Many will work in a world completely transformed by the exponential technologies entering our lives: AI, blockchain, IoT and machine learning.

Efforts to foster greater digital literacy among this large and growing group are accelerating, and for good reason. While 12 million young people entered Africa’s labour force in 2015, only 3.1 million jobs were created.

Fostering greater digital literacy is therefore a priority for the public and private sectors in many countries. The annual Africa Code Week initiative that was started in 2016 has already introduced more than 4.1 million youth to basic coding skills and in 2018 alone trained 23 000 teachers to sustainably teach digital skills within their schools and communities.

Major tech companies, from IBM to Google to SAP, have made significant investments into the continent’s digital economy through the establishment of innovation labs, supercomputer facilities and AI centres.

Source: sunnewsonline
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