Housing roundup

  • Danegeld: Wells Fargo agrees to pay $42 million to settle activist groups’ exotic legal claims re: REO property; much will directly go to support the groups [BLT]
  • On horrors of San Francisco landlordship, “Pacific Heights” still all too realistic [David Boaz, Cato]
  • Problem in Thomas Perez/HUD/St. Paul affair was not that DoJ chose to settle in such a way as to minimize its losses, but that it had pursued such a weak case in the first place [Richard Painter]
  • Dean Zarras on HUD v. Westchester [Forbes; our two cents] HUD embraces disparate-impact theory [Kevin Funnell, Arnold Kling]
  • Why did the mortgage market collapse? [Foote et al via @tylercowen]
  • Shorter Ta-Nehisi Coates: flaws of rent-to-own housing in ’50s Chicago prove US economic arrangements are a plot to immiserate blacks [The Atlantic] Yet Sinclair’s The Jungle, set 40 years before, showed very similar housing scams being played on Slavic newcomers.
  • Minnesota high court dodges Fourth Amendment worries re: rental inspection program [Ilya Shapiro, Cato, link fixed now]


  • I was surprised to see Ta-Nahesi’s article appear, and I was hoping for a bit more of a meaty critique. I’m not always on the same page as Coates, but I do respect his diligence in arguing from evidence. I’m guessing his counter-argument would be that the techniques may have been as old as the hills, but the environment of legally-sanctioned covenants, redlining, and other external measures kept black migrants in a position where they were vulnerable to such scams.

    One lesson you can draw from his series of articles on housing is how dangerous paternalism can be, by showing how government has been abused to enforce social prejudices through the law. I feel like there might be some common ground to find there!

  • faulty link to Shapiro/Minnesota post?

  • Link fixed now, thanks.

  • San Francisco rent control results in more than empty apartments. I inherited a duplex, rented it for a while (every tenant made more money than I did) but eventually concluded that draconian rent control (and other tenant friendly) rules made it a less than a good investment. I sold it to two couples (who took title initially as tenants in common but with the prospect to convert it, eventually, into condominiums) and it, thus, left the rental market forever. This has happened to many duplexes in San Francisco, almost all no longer on the rental market.

  • In France, the proliferation of “tenant protection” regulations has made it extremely difficult for people to find rental properties. On average it takes about 3 years to evict someone. Potential renters are now being asked to provide guarantees from their banks that they will pay the rent – I have no idea how one convinces their bank to do such a thing.

    In cities like Paris the problem is exacerbated by the many non-French EU citizens who purchase apartments to park their money because they don’t believe that the banks will give it back to them when they want it (see, e.g., Cyprus). They don’t live in the apts, other than an anual vacation or two, and leave them empty. We have one friend in a building that is more than half owned by Greeks, all of them empty. It probably makes the communal charges much lower, but at a price…

    We are selling our house in SW France, and the real estate agents say there are a LOT of Belgians and Dutch with cash looking for houses to buy in the country because Paris prices have become a bubble. Hopefully one of them will like my house…

  • […] in part because of his criticism of the much-disliked deal. [Newsday, paywall; earlier here, here, here, etc.] […]