Living La Vida Local
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residential real estate -- which includes new construction and remodeling -- hit $3,400 per capita. That far exceeds the previous peak of $2,700 in 1973 and is 70% higher than the $2,000 average over the last 35 years (all dollar figures adjusted for inflation).

The average price of a home increased 12% year over year from the third quarter of 2004 through the third quarter of 2005, representing a two percentage point decline from the previous four-quarter appreciation rate of approximately 14%, according to figures released from OFHEO, the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight.

--Price growth in Arizona continues to accelerate, with a one-year appreciation rate of 30%, the largest of any state by a wide margin.

--Florida became the second-fastest-appreciating state, with four-quarter appreciation of 25% and 11 of the 20 highest-ranked metropolitan statistical areas.

--Nevada's four-quarter appreciation rate declined by more than 10% from the previous rate of 28.6 to 17.6%.

--Two states that continue to show noticeable house-price appreciation are Idaho and Utah. Idaho, with an appreciation rate of 15.1% on a four-quarter basis, is now ranked 12 among states, up from 20 in the previous report. With annual price growth of 11.4%, Utah's ranking jumped to 22, compared with 31 in the previous report and last place in the fourth quarter of 2003.

--With a four-quarter appreciation rate of 34.4%, Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Ariz., topped the list of the fastest appreciating metropolitan areas for the first time since OFHEO began publishing its index in the fourth quarter of 1995. Last quarter's top metro, Naples- Marco Island, Fla., dropped to number three.

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Santa Monica ranked #5 out of all cities for overall sustainability in a study recent study by www.sustainlane.com - a community resource for healthy and sustainable living. Santa Monica has been a leader in green building, renewable energy and waste diversion since 1994, when it established the Sustainable City Program http://santa-monica.org/epd/scp/index.htm.

The city would vie for the very top spots in our study were it not for the Los Angeles Basin’s air quality, which tied for last place at #24. Generally the best time for Santa Monicans to exercise is later during the mornings or early afternoons before evening rush hour reduces the area’s air quality. The US EPA offers a real-time air quality map on its website for those that want to know how safe it is to exercise outdoors. http://cfpub.epa.

Tap water is also a problem in greater LA; it tied for last at #22. Local water is scarce in this normally semi-arid region, so water has to be imported from over hundreds of miles away using massive amounts of energy. A final consideration is that 75% Santa Monicans drive alone to get to work. This automotive dependence made for a less-than-stellar transportation ranking of #19 in our study.

The city is #1 in per capita LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) buildings in the United States, with 3 certified and 9 registered buildings as of April 2005. Developers get cash incentives of $20-35,000 per building for LEED certification, depending on the level of LEED. Among those completed are one of the nation’s few LEED Platinum buildings, which is the highest rating possible, and a LEED Gold affordable housing complex, which reduces residents’ utility bills through solar energy and energy efficient design. Led by its Department of Environmental Public Works Management, http://santa-monica.org/epwm/ Santa Monica had been on the road educating other cities about the benefits of this type of construction far before LEED standards were initiated by the US Green Building Council in 2000.

The list of achievements goes on: Santa Monica is tied with San Francisco for #1 in solid waste diversion (which includes recycling), the city has reached an astonishing rate of 67%.

Santa Monica leads the nation in farmers’ markets per capita, with four year-round markets, and is #3 overall in local food (farmers’ markets and community gardens combined).

With 100% of city buildings using renewable energy, Santa Monica generates 140kw of solar energy. Meanwhile, its city fleet has 58% of its vehicles using alternative fuels or energy sources including compressed natural gas, biodiesel (both B20 and B100), electric and hydrogen, one of the highest rates among 25 cities in our study. Mayor Pam O’Connor was one of the first ten to sign onto the US Mayors Climate Protection Agreement in 2005.

On a final note of innovation, the city developed in 1999 the nation’s first urban water runoff recycling facility, reducing contaminant-laden runoff to the Pacific Ocean by more than 90%.


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Almost two-thirds of wealthy Americans expect to see double-digit increases in the value of their primary homes over the next five years, with about one-third of them anticipating the value to rise 20% or more, according to a survey by The PNC Financial Services Group.

"Our findings indicate that many among the wealthy will not believe there is a real estate slowdown until they see it reflected in their property values, especially in regions of the country where prices have skyrocketed during the past five years," said Nicholas Buss, senior vice president and real estate economist at PNC, a financial organization that provides banking, real estate finance and lending services.

As Inman News reports, the survey was conducted nationwide cross section of 1,485 adults (age 18 or over) with annual incomes of $150,000 or above (if employed), at least $500,000 of investable assets (if employed) or at least $1 million of investable assets (if retired).

Among the real estate findings of the survey:

– 7% of wealthy Americans overall expects any decline in the value of their primary homes over the next five years.

– 22% of wealthy Americans count real estate as one of their principal sources of wealth. Those who do, clearly recognize the importance of real estate to their financial health, with 39% of them saying a "major decline" in home values would be a threat or huge threat to their family's wealth. Residential real estate is far more likely to be listed as a source of wealth by those under age 65 (26%) or those with less than $1 million in liquid assets (30%).

– New Englanders had the most conservative expectations for ongoing rising home values, with one in 10 respondents expecting a 20% or more increase in home prices over the next five years and 18% expecting a decline. Nearly twice as many New Yorkers (19%) expect an increase of 20% or more, and an almost equal number (20%) expect a decline.

– California respondents had higher expectations with approximately one-third (37%) expecting a 20% or more increase and only 8% expecting any decline.

– Florida: in a state where property values have soared, half of the respondents expect the value of their primary residence to increase by more than 20% over the next five years, making them twice as bullish on real estate as all respondents compared to respondents in other states (28% outside of Florida expect a 20% or more increase). Nearly 3/4 of Floridians surveyed said they expect to see double-digit increases in the value of their primary homes over the next five years. Just one in 20 wealthy South Floridians (5%) expects any decline in the value of their primary homes over the next five years.

- Individuals with $500,000-$999,000 were most likely to make lifestyle changes to reduce expenses if real estate values fell by 20% or more, according to the survey.

- Of the 32% of wealthy Americans who own a second vacation home or condo, half say they purchased within the past five years. Nearly 2/3 (63%) note they purchased their second home simply for their ongoing personal use. Only 19% said they bought property as an investment.

- Another ¼ (24%) of survey respondents indicated they own real estate as residential rental property. New Englanders (43%) were much more likely to own a second/vacation home than the rest of the country (23%), with most second/vacation homes and condos owned for longer than five years. Californians were much more likely to own residential rental properties, the survey revealed.

- Among those who said residential real estate is a major source of financial assets, rental properties were the most common form of ownership, whereas timeshares, vacation condos and commercial real estate were less common.

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