Having a gay friend or family member has led many Americans to change their stance from opposing to supporting same-sex marriage.
Scientists told a Senate panel that getting caught off-guard by a space rock hurtling toward Earth would lead to devastating consequences.
It’s official -- as of March 20th, the spring real estate season is upon us. And with record low interest rates, we’ve been hearing for months now that there’s never been a better time to buy a home.
Trouble is there’s not much to buy, with inventory at its lowest point in over a decade. The hunt for listings has some realtors trying new tricks and even pulling out some old ones.
In Boston, one of the hottest addresses is the city’s Seaport District. It’s full of trendy new restaurants and warehouses converted to office space and condos. There are plenty of units to rent here, but places for sale are rare. So when a loft opened up in a former bra factory, Realtor Ken Snyder jumped on the listing.
“It’s really huge, just shy of 1500 square feet,” Snyder says, showing off the unit. “So you’ve got the concrete columns, concrete floors, double-height windows, and the exposed HVAC pipes. A lot of people kind of like that aesthetic.”
Snyder says the owners have been renting the loft but were not planning to sell until they saw a post on his Facebook page about the shortage of homes on the market and bidding wars over new listings.
“I’ve been posting kind of my war stories with buyers, saying ‘Hey, you know what, I’ve had six offers on this, seven offers on that, twenty-five offers on this one. Sellers, hello? Where are you?!’” Snyder says. “There’s such little inventory that my joke is it’s like the last shrimp at the buffet at a cocktail party and everyone’s jumping on it to try and get to it.”
Other realtors in the area are holding classes for first-time home sellers, instead of buyers. There are half as many homes on the market in Massachusetts this year as there were before the recession. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) says across the country, inventory hasn’t been this low in 13 years.
“Many of the investors have come into the market, scooped up property at bargain prices hoping to rent it out,” says NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “The second part is that home building activity has been greatly suppressed for the past 5 years.”
Yun says new home construction is at a 50-year low. One silver lining for sellers -- the inventory shortage is driving up home prices. That’s good news for people whose homes lost value during the housing crisis and the spring market might move some of them to sell.
“There will be some temporary relief, but very temporary, because over the long haul, the true way to add inventory is through new home construction,” says Yun.
So until building picks up, the bottleneck continues. In the suburbs of Boston, Realtor Gary Rogers estimates there are ten buyers for every seller, and to find new listings he’s using tactics that he hasn’t relied on for a decade.
“We’re writing letters to sellers,” he says. “We’re actually going back to snail mail. We used to have these huge mailing campaigns and I’d drop a thousand dollars a month on mail. It used to be junk mail. Now nobody else is doing it, and all the sudden I’m getting calls.”
But there’s still one big problem...
Even when Rogers does find potential sellers, he says a lot of them are afraid to go live with their listings; with such low inventory on the market, they’d have no place to go if their homes sold.
Americans wouldn’t normally pay much attention to a British budget. We have enough budget issues of our own! But when the British Finance Chief unveiled his public spending plans today, at least one prominent American economist must have been watching closely.
Paul Krugman -- Nobel-prizewinning Professor of Economics at Princeton University -- is a keen student of the British economy. And a stern critic of the way it’s been managed. In Krugman's best selling book, End This Depression Now, he argues that Europeans -- including the Brits -- are obsessed with austerity. And that they’re driving their economies into a death spiral … cutting public spending when they should be doing the opposite and boosting growth.
"The British economy, like the U.S. economy, needs to push public investment back up," says Krugman.
"It needs to spend more because this is a special time. This is a once-in-a-three-generations economic crisis. And it’s not a time to be penny-pinching."
Krugman argues that what the Brits have been doing to cut their debt is completely counterproductive. He says that austerity shrinks the economy, reducing tax revenues and increasing government debt. The British government should borrow more to spend more, to spark up the economy.
British Finance Minister Matthew Hancock dismisses that as nonsensical:
"We have a massive borrowing problem. We have overleveraged banks and they’re a drag on the economy. And the argument that you can borrow your way out of debt doesn’t make sense," claims Hancock.
The government and its supporters concede that the deficit reduction plan has hit a sticky patch. They admit that growth has faltered. But they deny that has anything to do with austerity. They blame the recession in the eurozone for weakening Britain’s main export market.
This is not just some academic spat about far-off economies on the other side of the Pond. With the U.S. sequester, this issue may soon come home to roost in America.
Philip Booth of the Institute of Economic Affair says the omens are good. He feels that the U.S., with its flexible economy, may weather the coming austerity better than the Brits.
“You’d expect the U.S. economy to respond pretty well when the government reduces its spending, so that private sector jobs and private sector growth replaced public sector activity pretty quickly,” says Booth.
Paul Krugman may not reach the same conclusion if austerity takes hold in own backyard.
The Gaza Kitchen weaves little-known stories of Gaza food and farming among Palestinian home-cooking recipes. It's an effort not just to document the flavors of modern and historic Gaza, but also to start a new conversation about the place and its people.
Dr. Frank Dumont never thought of himself as being on the front lines of suicide prevention. But after the death of a patient he was particularly close to, he sees his role changing. He's seeking to reduce suicides by asking his patients about guns in their homes.
Two prominent Democrats, including a former Republican governor who recently switched parties, hold commanding leads over the unpopular Scott, according to a poll.
This final note today, which comes with the warning that I'm kind of a space geek -- with a special interest in the Apollo missions.
So I thought this was pretty cool:
Over the past few years, Amazon CEO and founder Jeff Bezos has been paying for folks to float around in the Atlantic Ocean looking for the F-1 engines from the Apollo rockets, the big ones that burned out then fell into the ocean.
The giant sinkhole is threatening a neighborhood in southern Louisiana. A salt mine collapsed last year, creating a series of problems regulators say they've never seen before, including tremors and oil and gas leaks and a sinkhole that covers 9 acres. Residents are losing patience.