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If voted to power, home loan EMIs would become cheaper than house rent

After Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) interest rate cut yesterday, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said government wants to further reduce the burden of interest rates on the common man to a level where paying equated monthly installments (EMIs) for home loans will be cheaper than paying house rents.

Speaking at an industry event yesterday, Jaitley said the Narendra Modi government has not increased tax rates in the last five years, but has still been able to double the tax base and increa ..

aitley said the Narendra Modi government has not increased tax rates in the last five years, but has still been able to double the tax base and increase tax collection. He said, if voted to power, the government would pursue policies to enable further reduction in interest rates and also continue with fiscal consolidation.

“Low interest rates will make borrowings cheaper, particularly for homebuyers, and boost consumer demand that will boost economic growth,” Jaitley also said in an interview to Hindustan Times.

Giving an example of previous NDA government under former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Jaitley claimed that When Vajpayee was the prime minister, home loans had become so cheap that EMIs were less than renting a house. “I think that’s where we need to take interest rates,” he added

Atal Bihari Vajpayee government had introduced income tax deductions in lieu of interest payments on home loans, which lowered the cost of borrowing and boosted that housing sector.

He said that the Modi government have consciously tried to strengthen India’s middle class. With every budget, the government has tried to increase the spending capacity of middle-class by liberating it from taxes. “We brought indirect taxes – GST [Goods and Services Tax] down. For housing , we have brought down to negligible level,” he added.

“The future of the Indian economy is the middle class and the neo-middle class and today’s poor should eventually become a part of that,” Jaitley said.

Source: Economic Times India

Under-employment, not unemployment, is India’s big problem

What would you say about the NYAY scheme of the government?

If the Congress really believed its moral argument, we would not be where we are today. From 1950 onwards, if the Congress had really followed proper pro-growth policies just like South Korea, Taiwan and China — all of which had about the same per capita income as us, we too would have had similar growth and our per capita incomes would be significantly higher and poverty as we define it today would simply not be there.

So, I think if one really is serious in believing in the moral argument, one has to also then answer for what was done in the first three to four decades.

That is my mysterious kind of response but the most serious one is that we all wanted to help the poor, particularly when we are talking about the destitute, the bottom 20% of the population. Nobody in India or anywhere else would be against such policies.

Do you believe that 3% fiscal target that we keep talking about will completely go off the radar? Perhaps we will have to look at new sources of revenue like taxing the rich?

Well that is what they need to spell out. This is precisely what I am saying. Where is at least outline of the proposal on how you will do it. Remember they also said they will not cut any of the existing subsidies, they will not raise the taxes.

They said merit-based subsidies.

They have to say it. This is generality but the point is ultimately when the push comes to shove, which subsidies are they going to cut? How much additional resources will be generated?

The devil is in the detail and the detail has not been provided?

I am not asking all micro details, barely some broad outlines because we are talking about Rs 3.6 trillion and one has to have some big ticket items on which to peg these kinds of resources.

Everybody keeps asking where are the jobs? Congress’s manifesto talks a lot about their plan with respect to jobs but the incumbent government says the jobs crisis is a big myth. How do you see things?

Well I have said this many times and I will repeat it that I do not think unemployment is India’s big problem, it is under-employment, because given the level of poverty, everybody has to do something

. You got to make your ends meet and you got to have two meals a day. So everybody works. In this sense, unemployment rate in India has always been low and that is the case but it is the under-employment. People are doing very low productivity jobs and that gives them relatively low wages, low living standards and therefore poverty. This is where we need jobs that pay good wages, meaning higher productivity jobs.

Economists across the world are questioning the credibility of Indian data. This has become a big talking point. You have been in India. You have seen how the government functions. Are people outside believing in the data that India is generating?

Look, I mean, all the international agencies including the World Bank, International Monetary Fund are using these data and they have not raised any doubts about the data. It is our own cynical economists who are raising these questions.

You will say there is smoke without fire? It is all propaganda?

Yes, yes. It is so largely because Indian statistical agencies are very independent and I was inside the government for three years.

Source: Economic Times India

World Bank gets new president

The Executive Directors of the World Bank on Friday unanimously selected David Malpass as the new president of the World Bank Group.

Mr Malpass’ five-year term will begin on April 9.

A statement by the group said the Board expressed its deep gratitude to Interim President, Kristalina Georgieva, for her dedication and leadership in recent months.

The executive directors followed the selection process agreed in 2011.

The process included an open, transparent nomination where any national of the Bank’s membership could be proposed by any Executive Director or Governor through an Executive Director.

The process was then followed by a thorough due diligence and a comprehensive interview of Mr. Malpass by the Executive Directors.

The Board said it looked forward to working with Mr. Malpass on the implementation of the Forward Look and the capital package agreement as articulated in the Sustainable Financing for Sustainable Development Paper.

Mr. Malpass previously served as Under Secretary of the Treasury for International Affairs for the United States.

As Under Secretary, Mr. Malpass represented the United States in international settings, including the G-7 and G-20 Deputy Finance Ministerial, World Bank-IMF Spring and Annual Meetings.

He was also represented the US in meetings of the Financial Stability Board, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation.

In his role as Under Secretary, Mr. Malpass played a crucial role in several major World Bank Group reforms and initiatives, including the recent capital increase for IBRD and IFC.

He was also instrumental in advancing the Debt Transparency Initiative, adopted by the World Bank and IMF, to increase public disclosure of debt and thereby reduce the frequency and severity of debt crises.

Prior to becoming Under Secretary, Mr. Malpass was an international economist and founder of a macroeconomics research firm based in New York City.

Earlier in his career, Mr. Malpass served as the U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Developing Nations and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Latin American Economic Affairs.

In these roles, he focused on an array of economic, budget, and foreign policy issues, such as the United States’ involvement in multilateral institutions, including the World Bank.

Mr. Malpass has served on the boards of the Council of the Americas, Economic Club of New York, and the National Committee on US–China Relations.

He earned his bachelor’s degree from Colorado College and his MBA from the University of Denver. He undertook advanced graduate work in international economics at the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University.

The World Bank President is Chair of the Boards of Directors of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and the International Development Association (IDA).

The president is also ex officio Chair of the Boards of Directors of the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), and the Administrative Council of the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID).

Source: PremiumTimes

France’s emergency winter housing period ends

While most Parisians greet the warmer spring weather with relief, for thousands in the capital and other major cities, the change of season is a stressful time. The end of March signals the end of emergency winter housing plan in France, which could put up to 8,000 people back on the streets.

During the winter period in France, from 1 November until 31 March, a tenant cannot legally be evicted except if another form of decent accommodation has been found for them.

It also means the closure of temporary emergency beds made available by the government throughout the five months of winter.

On Wednesday, the Minister for Housing Julien Denormandie, announced that it had increased its temporary capacity to host 6,000 more homeless people during the winter. But only 1,400 of those beds would be made permanent, bringing the number of emergency beds to 145,000 throughout the year.

“This is a gallant effort but it isn’t going to be enough” says Florent Gueguen, of the Federation of Solidarity workers (FAS).

To illustrate the gravity of the situation, on Thursday, the Salvation Army in Paris painted dotted lines on the ground with the words “reserved for the homeless” to represent the only place people would be able to sleep after being evicted.

“No-one should have to sleep in the street, it’s something from another era”, says Samuel Coppens, spokesperson for the Salvation Army in an interview with Le Monde daily newspaper.

In 2017,15 547 families – more than 30 000 people – were evicted with the help of the authorities, a historical record, according to the latest annual report published by the French charity Fondation Abbé Pierre (FAP).

En 2017, 126,000 evictions were recorded, 120,000 of them due to unpaid rent (+49% since 2001).

“The rise in evictions is in direct contradiction to the ‘housing first’ policy of the government”, says the Foundation, a plan that was intended to facilitate direct access to housing.

“With an increase of 46 percent over the last ten years, around 300,000 people have been forced out of their homes” FAP said.

“How many more will be evicted this year?” the FAP asked during an event to raise awareness, in front of the housing ministry in Paris on Sunday.

On Saturday, some people who have been evicted before, or are about to be made homeless, joined the Yellow Vest protesters in Paris alongside the organisation known as “Right to Housing” (Droit au Logement).

Charities point the finger of blame at several factors. The steep rise in rent, the competitive real estate market, the energy crisis along with the general loss of purchasing power for low and middle income workers.

They are urging the government, in light of these factors, to stop all evictions unless alternative housing arrangement can been found.

They are also calling for the construction of housing for low income families on a massive scale and are insisting on rent-controlled housing in big cities.

On top of that, charities are concerned that with administrative changes made to various public structures set up to welcome migrants, there will be even more people made homeless this year.

Mathias Mourier Communications officer for La Cloche, an association to help the homeless told La Connexion news site earlier this year that there are an estimated 150,000 homeless people in France.

He said citizens want to be of some help but they didn’t know how.

The organisation’s Le Carillon project has signs for shopkeepers or restaurants to put in their windows to show what services they can provide such as access to a telephone, internet, a meal, a haircut, toilets or a glass of water.

The initiative is part of an international platform known as The Chime.

Source: RFI

US housing starts jump more than expected in January

U.S. homebuilding increased more than expected in January as construction of single-family housing rebounded after four straight monthly declines, but building permits for these units fell to the lowest level since mid-2017.

Housing starts jumped 18.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.230 million units in January, the Commerce Department said on Friday. Data for December was revised down to show starts declining to a rate of 1.037 million units instead of the previously reported pace of 1.078 million units.

Building permits rose 1.4 percent to a rate of 1.345 million units in January, driven by an increase in permits for the volatile multi-family housing segment.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast housing starts rising to a pace of 1.197 million units in January. The release of the January housing starts and building permits report was delayed by a five-week partial shutdown of the federal government that ended on Jan. 25.

The housing market hit a soft patch last year amid higher mortgage rates, expensive lumber as well as land and labor shortages, which led to tight inventories and less affordable homes. Investment in homebuilding contracted 0.2 percent in 2018, the weakest performance since 2010.

Single-family homebuilding, which accounts for the largest share of the housing market, surged 25.1 percent to a rate of 926,00 units in January, the highest since May 2018. The increase followed four straight monthly declines. Single-family homebuilding rose in all four regions.

Permits to build single-family homes fell 2.1 percent in January to a pace of 812,000 units, the lowest level since August 2017, suggesting weakness in single-family homebuilding in the months ahead.

Starts for the multi-family housing segment rose 2.4 percent to a rate of 304,000 units in January. Permits for the construction of multi-family homes increased 7.2 percent to a pace of 533,000 units.

Source: CNBC

Hong Kong Property Is Ready to Roar Back

Hong Kong property is coming back. After declining about 10 percent since August, home prices have started rising again. The world’s least affordable housing market may even be prepping for another boom.

Green shoots have included increased viewings at project sales and revived interest in government land auctions, with a plot in the northern New Territories selling for a higher price than analysts expected last month. The Centa-City Leading Index of second-hand home prices is up more than 1 percent from its recent low after gaining for three consecutive weeks.

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Analysts at Citigroup Inc. and CLSA Ltd. forecast prices will rebound by between 5 percent and 15 percent this year. While most still expect them to resume their descent, other positive indicators include a rally in developers’ shares, which typically lead movements in the physical real estate market.

So what’s changed? A reprieve from the U.S. Federal Reserve, broader stock-market gains and the strengthening of China’s currency. The Fed turned dovish in December, signaling less likelihood of further rate increases this year.

That’s a boon for Hong Kong, which tracks changes in U.S. rates because of the city’s currency peg to the dollar. The Hang Seng Index has climbed 17 percent since the end of October.

Since rising rates increase the relative attractiveness of the U.S. dollar, the Fed’s shift to a cautious stance has also alleviated pressure on the yuan. The Chinese currency has strengthened about 4 percent from its October low. Confidence in the currency has also been bolstered by the trade talks, where the U.S. has been pushing for a commitment by China to avoid depreciation.

The improving monetary backdrop coincides with a market that’s chronically undersupplied and where there’s huge latent demand. Hong Kong sells enough land for just 20,000 apartments a year, according to CLSA, far from adequate for a city of 2.3 million households. The amount sold this year will be even smaller, enough for 18,000 apartments.

The shortage is so acute that the government will build on part of the Hong Kong Golf Club’s site and is considering developing private agricultural land. These won’t move the needle much. Meanwhile, an ambitious plan to reclaim 1,000 hectares from the sea and build a man-made island is at least a decade away.

Granted, Hong Kong home valuations remain stretched, at 18 times the median income even after recent declines. And the overbuilding of parking space-sized apartments in outer areas may weigh on prices. Any forecasts of a boom should also come with a caveat: All bets are off if the city’s economy heads south.

Against that, though, is the vast amount of cash sloshing around the city’s banking system: HK$13 trillion ($1.7 trillion) of local- and foreign-currency savings. That’s 59 times the HK$220 billion value of primary real estate transactions, according to CLSA analyst Nicole Wong.

That’s a hint of how sharply prices could snap back if demand strengthens. Hong Kong imposed a 30 percent stamp-duty tax on foreign purchasers in 2012 – a policy approaching its seven-year anniversary, the qualifying threshold for permanent residency in Hong Kong. So workers who moved to the city at that time will be able to avoid the punitive rate.

That may be particularly attractive for mainland professionals who are barred from buying in cities such as Beijing if they’re not residents. Hong Kong may be expensive, but at least it’s open.

Source: Nisha Gopalan


South Africa Real Estate Activities Report 2018 with Profiles of 140+ Companies Including Pam Golding Properties, RE/MAX, Seeff Property Services and Harcourts

This report focuses on the real estate industry which comprises commercial, industrial and residential properties, as well as property valuation and bond origination. The real estate sector contributed 5.6% to GDP, based on 2016 data. The South African listed-property sector is worth about R500bn with about 46% of the value of the sector reflecting investment in overseas markets. 

The real estate sector’s performance largely depends on economic drivers and has been challenged by slow economic growth during the past few years. In spite of this, the number of principal estate agents registered with the Estate Agency Affairs Board grew by 4.8% from 2016 to 2017. Property development is not showing signs of slowing down, but developers are struggling to increase occupancy rates due to oversupply.

Pressing Issues: 

South Africa’s real estate landscape is set to undergo major changes in the future driven mainly by regulatory changes, including land restitution, and technology disruptors. Growth in residential property prices remained subdued in the first five months of 2018 with house prices increasing 4% and 4.8% year-on-year in May. There are a number of opportunities in the sector brought about by high demand for student accommodation and gated communities and urban renewal and regeneration projects. But low projected growth rates and slowdown in economic activity could limit expansion and new development.

Report Coverage: 

The comprehensive report on South African Real Estate Activities describes current conditions and recent developments in all sub-sectors, as well as factors influencing the success of the sector. 

The report profiles 141 companies, including the main players in the residential real estate sector, Pam Golding Properties, RE/MAX of Southern Africa, Seeff Property Services and Harcourts Real Estate. Profiles also include Vukile Property Fund and Arrowhead which have made significant acquisitions and developers including Abland, WBHO and Renprop.

Key Topics Covered: 


2.1. Industry Value Chain
2.2. Geographic Position


4.1. Local
4.1.1. Corporate Actions
4.1.2. Regulations
4.1.3. Enterprise Development and Social Economic Development
4.2. Continental
4.3. International 

5.1. Economic Environment
5.2. Government Initiatives
5.3. Land Restitution
5.4. Rising Operating Costs
5.5. Water and Electricity Supply Constraints
5.6. Labour
5.7. Technology Disruptors
5.8. Information Technology (IT), Research and Development (R&D) and Innovation
5.9. Cyclicality
5.10. Transport Systems
5.11. Crime and Security
5.12. Consumer Education
5.13. Environmental Concerns 

6.1. Barriers to Entry 




10.1. Publications
10.2. Websites


Appendix 1 
Commercial Property Investment and Management Companies
Property Developers
Sustainable Human Settlements (previously RDP Housing)
Development of Leisure Resorts and Hotels
Industrial Development Zones
Residential Real Estate
Property Valuation
Bond Origination

Appendix 2
Major Property Development Projects recently Completed or in Progress

Appendix 3
Office and Industrial Property Development Projects Recently Completed or in Progress

Appendix 4
Retail Centre Projects Recently Completed or in Progress

Appendix 5
Affordable (or GAP) Housing Developments Recently Completed or in Progress

Appendix 6
Other Legislation Relevant to the Real Estate Sector

Appendix 7
Qualification Requirements for the Industry

Company Profiles

Commercial Property Investment And Management

  • Accelerate Property Fund Ltd
  • Acsion Ltd
  • Adrenna Property Group Ltd
  • Afhco Holdings (Pty) Ltd
  • Arrowhead Properties Ltd
  • Ascension Properties Ltd
  • Atterbury Property (Pty) Ltd
  • Beare Properties (Pty) Ltd
  • Broll Property Group (Pty) Ltd
  • City Lodge Hotels Ltd
  • Delta Property Fund Ltd
  • Emira Property Fund Ltd
  • Equites Property Fund Ltd
  • Eris Property Group (Pty) Ltd
  • Excellerate Real Estate Services (Pty) Ltd
  • Exemplar Reitail Ltd
  • Fairvest Property Holdings Ltd
  • Fieldspace Property Managers (Pty) Ltd
  • Fortress Reit Ltd
  • Freedom Property Fund Ltd
  • Gemgrow Properties Ltd
  • Growthpoint Properties Ltd
  • Heriot Reit Ltd
  • Hermans And Roman Property Solutions (Pty) Ltd
  • Homechoice Holdings Ltd
  • Hyprop Investments Ltd
  • Inframax Holdings (Pty) Ltd
  • Ingenuity Property Investments Ltd
  • Investec Property Fund Ltd
  • Jhi Retail (Pty) Ltd
  • Legacy Hotels And Resorts (Pty) Ltd
  • Liberty Holdings Ltd
  • Maxprop Holdings (Pty) Ltd
  • Merchant And Industrial Properties Ltd
  • Montagu Homes (Pty) Ltd
  • Oasis Crescent Property Fund
  • Oasis Crescent Property Fund Managers Ltd
  • Octodec Investments Ltd
  • Old Mutual Life Assurance Company (South Africa) Ltd
  • Orion Real Estate Ltd
  • Pareto Ltd
  • Passenger Rail Agency Of South Africa
  • Public Investment Corporation Soc Ltd
  • Putprop Ltd
  • Rebosis Property Fund Ltd
  • Redefine Properties Ltd
  • Renprop (Pty) Ltd
  • Resilient Reit Ltd
  • Rmg Management Group Sa (Pty) Ltd
  • Sa Corporate Real Estate Ltd
  • Sable Holdings Ltd
  • Sanlam Ltd
  • Sargas (Pty) Ltd
  • Stor-Age Property Reit Ltd
  • Strategic Real Estate Managers (Pty) Ltd
  • Texton Property Fund Ltd
  • Tourvest Holdings (Pty) Ltd
  • Tower Property Fund Ltd
  • Trafalgar Property Management (Pty) Ltd
  • Visual International Holdings Ltd
  • Vukile Property Fund Ltd
  • Zenprop Management Services (Pty) Ltd
  • Zenprop Property Holdings (Pty) Ltd

Major Property Developers

  • Abland (Pty) Ltd
  • Acsion Ltd
  • Afhco Holdings (Pty) Ltd
  • Atterbury Property (Pty) Ltd
  • Eris Property Group (Pty) Ltd
  • Free State Development Corporation
  • Group Five Ltd
  • Growthpoint Properties Ltd
  • Hyprop Investments Ltd
  • Ingenuity Property Investments Ltd
  • Investec Property (Pty) Ltd
  • Keystone Investments (Pty) Ltd
  • Liberty Holdings Ltd
  • Montagu Homes (Pty) Ltd
  • Old Mutual Life Assurance Company (South Africa) Ltd
  • Orion Real Estate Ltd
  • Rabie Property Group (Pty) Ltd
  • Renprop (Pty) Ltd
  • Rpp Developments (Pty) Ltd
  • Sable Holdings Ltd
  • Summercon Holdco (Pty) Ltd
  • Swish Property Group (Pty) Ltd
  • Tci Properties (Pty) Ltd
  • Tongaat Hulett Developments (Pty) Ltd
  • Visual International Holdings Ltd
  • Wbho Construction (Pty) Ltd
  • Westbrook Residential Development (Pty) Ltd
  • Zenprop Property Holdings (Pty) Ltd
  • Zotos Brothers (Pty) Ltd

Sustainable Human Settlements – (Previously Rdp Housing)

  • Calgro M3 Holdings Ltd
  • Inframax Holdings (Pty) Ltd
  • Nu-Way Housing Developments (Pty) Ltd
  • Power Development Projects (Pty) Ltd
  • Trustgro Developments (Pty) Ltd

Development Of Leisure Resorts & Hotels

  • City Lodge Hotels Ltd
  • Kat Leisure (Pty) Ltd
  • Legacy Hotels And Resorts (Pty) Ltd
  • Peermont Global (Pty) Ltd
  • Sun International Ltd
  • Tsogo Sun Holdings Ltd
  • Company Profile – Industrial Development Zone
  • Coega Development Corporation (Pty) Ltd
  • East London Industrial Development Zone Soc Ltd
  • Richards Bay Industrial Development Zone Company Soc Ltd

Residential Real Estate

  • Aida National Franchises (Pty) Ltd
  • Electronic Realty Associates (South Africa) (Pty) Ltd
  • Everybody Wins Real Estate Franchising (Pty) Ltd
  • First Realty Central (Pty) Ltd
  • Firzt Realty (Pty) Ltd
  • Geffen International Realty Franchises (Pty) Ltd
  • Jawitz Properties (Pty) Ltd
  • Just Property Group Holdings (Pty) Ltd (The)
  • Leapfrog Property Group (Pty) Ltd
  • My Africa Properties (Pty) Ltd
  • Pam Golding Properties (Pty) Ltd
  • Property Referral Network (Pty) Ltd
  • Realty One International Property Group (Pty) Ltd
  • Seeff Property Services (Pty) Ltd
  • Wakefields Real Estate (Pty) Ltd

Property Valuation

  • Appraisal Corporation Cc
  • Broll Valuation And Advisory Services (Pty) Ltd
  • Cape Value (Pty) Ltd
  • Corporate Valuations Cc
  • Ddp Valuers (Pty) Ltd
  • Eris Property Group (Pty) Ltd
  • Magnus Penny Associates Cc
  • Mills Fitchet (East Coast) Cc
  • Mills Fitchet (Gauteng) Cc
  • Mills Fitchet (Kzn) Cc
  • Mills Fitchet (Natal) (Pty) Ltd
  • Mills Fitchet (Pwv) (Pty) Ltd
  • Mills Fitchet Africa (Pty) Ltd
  • Mills Fitchet Valuations (Pty) Ltd
  • Rode And Associates (Pty) Ltd
  • S A Appraisers And Valuers Cc
  • Spectrum Valuations And Asset Solutions (Pty) Ltd
  • Company Profiles – Bond Origination
  • Betterlife Group Ltd
  • Intelligent Debt Management (Pty) Ltd
  • Multinet Home Loans (Pty) Ltd
  • Ooba (Pty) Ltd

Source: Cision PR NewsWire



Vancouver is on pace to lose its status as Canada’s second largest housing market to Montreal.

While still Canada’s most expensive city for housing, a recent collapse in sales has led the value of real estate transactions substantially lower. That leaves Montreal’s soaring market poised to overtake the Pacific coast city’s.

In January, the total dollar value of real estate transactions in Vancouver fell to C$1.7 billion ($1.3 billion) on a seasonally adjusted basis, the weakest level since 2013 and down 42 percent from a year earlier, according to data released Friday by the Canadian Real Estate Association. Meanwhile, the value of transactions in Montreal reached C$1.63 billion to start the year, an increase of 18 percent from last January. Montreal — which has much cheaper homes, but more transactions — hasn’t been this close to Vancouver since 2008.


Montreal is the business capital of the largely French-speaking province of Quebec and Canada’s second largest city by population. But it was left out of the boom that saw home prices in Toronto and Vancouver surge to levels that made those cities unaffordable and prompted a rush of regulations to slow down them down.

Housing Heat Creeps East

Vancouver’s real estate market is about to be overtaken by Montreal’s

These measures have included new regional taxes on foreign buyers in Toronto and Vancouver that aren’t in place in Montreal. Higher interest rates and tougher rules for mortgage lending also seem to be having the biggest effect on the country’s priciest markets.

January saw home sales in Montreal climb the fastest in a decade as lower prices and a booming economy lured buyers. Sales in the city advanced 7.1 percent from December, the fastest pace since May 2009, and the number of units sold reached a record. Montreal’s gains are well ahead of identical moves in Vancouver and Toronto where sales rose 1.2 percent, and double the national increase of 3.6 percent.


There’s far less concern Montreal will show the signs of overheating seen in Canada’s two other major cities, given price differentials.

“Much of the recent price appreciation and sales increases, that really reflects the strength of the economy,’’ Marc Desormeaux, an economist at Bank of Nova Scotia, said by phone from Toronto. “Montreal remains relatively affordable.’’

Montreal’s benchmark home price was C$349,300 in January, up 6.3 percent from a year earlier. That’s still far less than the Vancouver price of C$1.02 million, which is down 4.5 percent.

Canada’s largest city Toronto still has by far the most real estate transactions, reaching C$5.4 billion to start the year, albeit greatly reduced from the C$8.5 billion in activity seen at the beginning on of 2017.

Source : Bloomberg

America’s 10 worst states to live in

Far be it for us to dent your home state pride, but the fact is that there are ways to objectively measure quality of life, and some states do not measure up as well as others. Our Quality of Life category in America’s Top States for Business, worth 300 out 2,500 total points, looks at factors such as violent crime rates, area attractions, health care, and environmental quality, based on our Top States methodology and sources. These are the 10 worst states to live in this year.

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10. New Mexico

This state calls itself the Land of Enchantment. But by the numbers, that borders on false advertising. In 2016, the most recent full year of statistics available from the FBI, New Mexico recorded the second-highest violent-crime rate in the country and the highest rate of property crime. In the first quarter of 2018, the Albuquerque Police Department reported a 50 percent increase in homicides from the year before. New Mexico had the fourth-highest rate of drug deaths in the United States last year, and more than 22 percent of its children live in poverty.

2018 Quality of Life score: 113 out of 300 points (Grade: F)

Weaknesses: Crime, health

Strengths: Attractions, air quality

2017 Quality of Life rank: 9th worst (tie)

9. (tie) Mississippi

One of this state’s most famous natives was Elvis Presley, who was known to have a penchant for peanut butter, bacon and banana sandwiches. Too many Mississippians appear to be following his example. Mississippi has the second-highest obesity rate in the nation. Mississippi had the nation’s highest cardiovascular death rate in 2017 and the second-highest rate of cancer deaths. Also last year, Gallup found Mississippi had among the highest levels of economic anxiety in the nation. The Magnolia State takes its nickname from a sturdy, robust tree that is abundant in the state. Mississippians might want to look around themselves for some inspiration.

2018 Quality of Life score: 111 out of 300 points (Grade: F)

Weaknesses: Health, inclusiveness

Strengths: Low crime, air quality

2017 Quality of Life rank: 7th worst

9. (tie) South Carolina

Today it is known as the Palmetto State and tourists flock to its 187 miles of coastline, historic sites and a fixture of cultures. But the state loses points due to a high crime rate. In addition, South Carolina is one of America’s unhealthiest states, with one of the highest incidences of diabetes in the nation.

2018 Quality of Life score: 111 out of 300 points (Grade: F)

Weaknesses: Health, high crime

Strengths: Attractions, air quality

2017 Quality of Life rank: 15th worst

7. Oklahoma

Oklahoma has the fourth-highest rate of on-the-job deaths in the nation, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The state also has a high obesity rate. Regular exercise does loads to improve general well-being and quality of life, yet only about half of Oklahomans report that they exercise frequently, or at all.

2018 Quality of Life score: 106 out of 300 points (Grade: F)

Weaknesses: Health, high crime, lack of inclusiveness

Strength: Air quality

6. Missouri

Missouri has one of the highest rates of violent crime in the nation. In 2017 the state reported 600 murders, an 11 percent increase from the year before. Missouri could also stand to show some more inclusiveness. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, the state lacks protections against discrimination for LGBT people, as well as discrimination laws related to employment, including protections for age and marital status.

2018 Quality of Life score: 101 out of 300 points (Grade: F)

Weaknesses: High crime, health, lack of inclusiveness

Strength: Air quality

2017 Quality of Life rank: 5th worst

5. Indiana

The Crossroads of America is not known for its tolerance of the cross-section of Americans who live and work there. After intense outcry from business leaders and others, the state in 2015 adjusted the deeply controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act soon after it was signed into law by then-governor Mike Pence. The changes, also approved by Pence, helped ease fears that the law could be used to justify discrimination. But Indiana still lacks explicit protections against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, age or marital status.

2018 Quality of Life score: 100 out of 300 points (Grade: F)

Weaknesses: Lack of inclusiveness, health

Strength: Attractions

2017 Quality of Life rank: 6th worst

4. Tennessee

With the fifth-highest violent-crime rate in the nation, the Volunteer State could still use some people to step up and start a neighborhood watch program. They might also want to volunteer for a smoking cessation program to help address the state’s alarmingly high rate of premature deaths. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for every 100,000 people in Tennessee, nearly 9,500 people die before the age of 75. That is more than 30 percent higher than the national rate. And with no statewide antidiscrimination protections based on marital status, sexual orientation or gender identity, the state could stand to be more welcoming.

2018 Quality of Life score: 96 out of 300 points (Grade: F)

Weaknesses: Crime, health, lack of inclusiveness

Strengths: Attractions, air quality

2017 Quality of Life rank: 9th worst

3. Alabama

Alabama has one of the highest crime rates in the nation, the lowest concentration of mental health providers and no statewide protections against discrimination of any sort. Even so, Alabamans — or as some prefer, Alabamians — are feeling a bit better about their lot in life this year versus one year ago, with nearly two-thirds telling Gallup they feel “active and productive.” That helps the state improve on its last-place ranking in this category last year, even though Alabamans don’t exactly practice what they preach: Fewer than half say they exercise frequently.

2018 Quality of Life score: 87 out of 300 points (Grade: F)

Weaknesses: High crime, health, lack of inclusiveness

Strength: Air quality

2017 Quality of life rank: Worst in the nation

2. Louisiana

How’s Bayou? Not so good in Louisiana, one of the fattest states in the country, with the highest rate of infectious disease, according to the United Health Foundation. The state suffers from high crime and pollution, plus a fair amount of economic anxiety, scoring just 1 out of 25 on Gallup’s 2017 Economic Confidence Index. And despite anything you might have heard or seen on Bourbon Street, the state lags in inclusiveness, with no protections against discrimination based on marital status, sexual orientation or gender identity.

2018 Quality of Life score: 82 out of 300 points (Grade: F)

Weaknesses: Health, high crime

Strength: Attractions

2017 Quality of Life rank: 2nd worst

1. Arkansas

Arkansas calls itself the Land of Opportunity, but some might beg to differ. While the state does provide protections against discrimination based on race, sex, religion and national origin, it lacks such protections based on sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status and age. And it is one of only three states that bars localities from enacting wider protections of their own. According to the most recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 16 percent of Arkansans reported frequent mental distress. That is the second-highest rate in the nation.

2018 Quality of Life score: 81 out of 300 points (Grade: F)

Weaknesses: Lack of inclusiveness, health, high crime

Strength: Air quality

2017 Quality of Life rank: 4th worst

Source: CNBC

The church with the $6 billion portfolio

Recent years have been good to the church and the rest of its campus. St. Paul’s Chapel, near the World Trade Center, escaped destruction during the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and now gleams after a fresh coat of paint. After a cleaning in September, Hamilton’s white marble obelisk also sparkles. Soon the entire church — and a new $350 million glass tower under construction behind it — will, too.

It makes sense. If a founding father can get a 21st-century update, so can the church where he is buried. Especially since the church in question is very, very rich.

While many places of worship are warding off developers as they struggle to hold on to their congregations and buildings, Trinity is a big-time developer itself.

The church has always been land-rich. And it has long had its own real estate arm, which controls ground leases and office space rentals in the buildings it owns. But now it finds itself with a newly diversified portfolio worth $6 billion, according to the current rector, the Rev. Dr. William Lupfer.

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After being instrumental in changing the zoning laws in Hudson Square, a neighborhood between West Houston and Canal streets, Trinity Real Estate has entered into a joint venture that gives it a majority stake in 12 buildings that contain 6 million square feet of commercial space. A lucrative deal with the Walt Disney Co., valued at $650 million, was signed last year.

And as it builds its glass tower — which will house administrative offices, public gathering spaces and, yes, commercial tenants — Trinity is also renovating the interior of its historic church, which is expected to cost $110 million.

Trinity has been able to do all this because it’s been a savvy manager of its resources. It is also, as a church, exempt from taxes.

But some wonder about the ethics of a religious institution being such a power player in the world of New York real estate.

“What is the fundamental economic issue going on that churches deserve tax exemption and can build up a lot of wealth?” asked Rachel M. McCleary, a lecturer in the economics department at Harvard University and co-author of the coming book “The Wealth of Religions: The Political Economy of Believing and Belonging.

Trinity’s current affluence can be traced to a gift of 215 acres from Queen Anne in 1705. (The church was first chartered, under King William III, in 1697, a few decades after the British took over New Amsterdam.) Trinity still owns 14 acres of that original land grant, mostly in Hudson Square.

At the time Trinity received the land, of course, there was no separation of church and state. “They were a favored religion, and that gave them a leg up,” McCleary said. “The question becomes, How are they to be viewed in a pluralistic religion market, and what is their response in that market today?”

Patti Walsh, a spokeswoman for the church, wrote in an email that Trinity handles such a market by working closely with other organizations to help them further their mission. “We currently work with many partners in New York City and around the world to build neighborhoods, to help develop clergy and lay leadership for the church, and to help our partners resource their ministries.”

The current Trinity is the third church to be built at Broadway and Wall Street. Designed in a Gothic Revival style by Richard Upjohn and completed in 1846, the brownstone building was the tallest structure in the city for decades, and one of the first to be declared a landmark.

It’s “a place where you can get away from the noise and experience the aesthetic beauty and quiet,” said the Rev. Phillip A. Jackson, vicar of the Episcopal parish of Trinity Church Wall Street.

But now that the church is at the center of the development boom in Lower Manhattan, it’s less of an oasis of calm and more of a contributor to the very noise and disruption from which longtime residents have sought a reprieve.

There is the new tower, which topped out late last year, and will have 17 floors of office space in addition to a nine-story base devoted to parish and community use.

And as part of the church interior’s “rejuvenation,” as the parish leadership calls it — the first extensive renovation in decades — the nave is closed and scaffolding reaches to the 65-foot-high ceiling so conservation experts can inspect stained-glass windows and the integrity of the ceiling. There will be three new organs, ergonomically contoured seats for the old oak pews and stained-glass pendant lights that will be controlled by an iPad. The church’s famous altarpiece, donated by the Astor family, will be restored and placed on rails so it can be moved back and forth depending on the type of service or event.

The project, overseen by Murphy Burnham & Buttrick Architects, which restored St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Midtown, is a shining example of stewardship. The New York Landmarks Conservancy awarded Trinity a prestigious Chairman’s Awards last year.

These projects stand in stark contrast to other houses of worship around the city, many with dwindling congregations, struggling to pay heating bills and keep the roof from leaking.

Indeed, a section of falling ceiling was one of the latest indignities suffered by the Metropolitan Community United Methodist Church, in East Harlem, built in the Gothic style in the 1870s. It is now slated for demolition after the pastor, the Rev. Dr. Richard N. Hayes, gave up on the structure following years of “repair, repair, repair,” he said.

Hayes has struck a deal to sell the church, which is not a landmark, to a developer — a plan that will provide money for a new church to be built on an adjacent lot. The likelihood that the developer will raze the historic building has divided the congregation and prompted an outcry from neighbors and preservationists.

“For decades the preservation of churches has been a major issue,” said Andrew Dolkart, a professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. No longer. “It’s become a crisis,” he said.

Although attention in recent years has focused on the shuttering of churches by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York, the problem affects all denominations, said Peg Breen, president of the New York Landmarks Conservancy, which is surveying religious properties in the five boroughs.

Congregants have resorted to doing patchwork repairs themselves; pastors solicit donations in emergencies. Recently, the front door blew off the Immanuel-First Spanish Church in the Boerum Hill neighborhood of Brooklyn. It was rehung, but remains irreparably damaged. A replacement will cost as much as $9,000, said the Rev. Dr. Hector B. Custodio, known to all as Pastor Benny. He has collected $1,200.

Many religious leaders have become experts in applying for grants and organizing capital campaigns.

“We learn none of this in seminary,” said the Rev. Anne Sawyer, rector of St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery, which is trying to raise money to replace faulty copper gutters that funnel rainwater into the building.

But sometimes the tactic works. The Church of St. Anselm and St. Roch, for example, a domed Byzantine Revival structure in the South Bronx, recently received a $40,000 grant from the Landmarks Conservancy.

Some churches have allowed developers to build on their property. Residents of Morningside Heights in Upper Manhattan were still recovering from an apartment tower being erected on the campus of St. John the Divine in 2008, when the church gave the go-ahead for a second project — to be built just steps from the landmark cathedral, in 2015.

And then there is the sale of air rights. Under the new East Midtown zoning laws, landmark religious institutions are able to transfer air rights (the space over their buildings) to developers who can apply those air rights within a 78-block area. St. Patrick’s, St. Bart’s and Central Synagogue, which supported the new rules, are all expected to sell their air rights.

The New Yorkreligious institutions that are safest from destruction, it seems, have either been declared landmarks or are land-rich. Trinity Church is both.

In 2005, Trinity hired Carl Weisbrod, an urban planning expert, director of the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. and founding president of the Alliance for Downtown New York, to lead the church’s real estate arm. Weisbrod initiated the 2013 rezoning of Hudson Square, which allowed for the construction of residential buildings. This set off a frenzy of development in the area and greatly enhanced the value of Trinity’s holdings.

Trinity then diversified, entering into a joint partnership with Norway’s Norges Bank Investment Management, and managed by developer Hines, which also has a small stake in the project, involving the church’s holdings in Hudson Square.

Since 2015, proceeds from the partnership have totaled $1.73 billion and have been folded into a range of other investments. In 2017, the latest year for which an audited financial statement is available, Trinity’s portfolio yielded a net return of $301 million.

Trinity’s wealth enables it to support other churches (it has its own grant department with a formal application process). It has given away $10 million a year and plans to ramp up its contributions, according to the church spokeswoman, Walsh. It also finances its own humanitarian efforts, including a 325-unit affordable residence for older people and those with disabilities, as well as brown-bag lunches for 35,000 annually.

About six years ago, nearly half of Trinity’s vestry — a group of parishioners who function like a board of directors — resigned because they felt the church wasn’t doing enough to help those in need. But two congregants who were part of the upheaval — including Jeremy C. Bates, who filed a lawsuit that led to the institution making its financial records public — believe the church has turned a corner. “I feel we are more unified,” Bates said.

There is a point to be made about the importance of paying attention to the bottom line. Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, a New York City landmark with a nonprofit real estate arm that focuses on affordable housing and community development, overextended itself and was forced to sell off properties to satisfy debts.

“We were just trying to do good where others were not doing it,” said the Rev. Dr. Calvin O. Butts III, pastor of the church. “We did what we could, hit a bump, and had to sell off real estate.”

Lupfer sees the new Trinity tower as a “ministry tool” for his congregation and considers its costs part of its mission spending. Trinity’s website describes the project, rather modestly, as a “new parish building.”

But it is considerably more than that, and the development process has not been without controversy.

Trinity’s original proposal — a modernist design by Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects replacing a pair of smaller buildings from the 1920s — was to include luxury apartments.

It did not go unnoticed.

“When Trinity Church announces it has got to take down buildings that may have had some attraction for the neighborhood and replace them with something almost double in size and mostly residential, some people may have looked at a religious institution and asked questions they may not have asked of a commercial developer,” said Anthony Notaro, the chairman of Community Board 1, covering the area south of Canal Street.

To its credit, say members of the community, the church invited the public to weigh in on the plan for the tower’s podium, holding a series of workshops in St. Paul’s Chapel.

As a result, art studios and public gathering spaces were added to the tower’s base, which will also contain a Sunday school, a basketball court and a computer lab.

“Like a 92nd Street Y,” said Jackson, referring to the popular cultural center on the Upper East Side. Trinity expects to move into its new offices this fall, with the public spaces opening the spring of 2020. The church plans to reopen this Christmas.

Trinity appears to have it all: a vibrant congregation, well-tended church buildings, a shiny new tower promising robust amenities — and abundant resources.

In some respects it might even resemble the megachurches of the suburbs, with their broadcasting stations and satellite churches to which they beam the Sunday service. Trinity’s own broadcast room is being updated in the renovation, as are other back-of-house spaces. A large split-screen monitor in the new sacristy will allow the clergy to track activity in the sanctuary as well as in St. Paul’s and in the parish-house portion of the new tower.

Could big, muscular churches become the new normal in New York as smaller churches vanish?

The Rev. Dr. Donna Schaper, of Judson Memorial Church in the West Village, certainly hopes not. Smaller houses of worship provide not only the beauty of their historic structures, she argued, but also crucial social services as well: soup kitchens, food pantries, art programs and gathering places for community meetings.

“We need help — technical assistance, policy relief,” Schaper said. She maintains it is a mistake when churches get into the real estate game on their own. The sale of air rights, she pointed out, has led to “gentrification and its partner, racism,” as demolished religious institutions are replaced by luxury housing, often resulting in the displacement of longtime neighborhood residents.

Judson Memorial, designed by Stanford White in the Romanesque style, with stained glass by John La Farge, is a designated city landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The church is putting on a new roof after a $3 million fundraising campaign, but it must turn around and raise $4 million more because it has heating issues and a broken elevator.

The elevator is a serious concern, since the church has removed the pews in the sanctuary to allow for “hyperuse,” as Schaper put it, by a variety of groups. Because these rentals yield important revenue — they make up over a third of Judson’s $1 million annual budget — worship services now take place on the second floor. Judson provides services to 150 undocumented immigrants a week, among others.

Schaper has started a movement called Bricks and Mortals, with the goal of coming up with collective solutions so that no church has to go it alone. One idea is for the city to create an air-rights bank that would allow the rights “to be monetized, but not abused” — put into a bank for the development of affordable housing, for example.

“My fear is that the very thing that makes New York so lovely and interesting — the variety of our culture — is threatened by congregations becoming restaurants and high-end apartments. It’s almost as tragic as losing the beautiful buildings.”

Source: New York Times

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