Housing markets in United States (US) neighbourhoods is booming as a million dollars could get you a lot more. During the housing boom, prices rose so high and so fast that even cookie-cutter homes in the paved suburbs of South Florida and California could cost a cool million. In Santa Clara, Calif., a high-tech hot spot, the median price hit $836,780 in 2007. That was a long way from the days when a million-dollar home evoked images of marble columns and swimming pools with vanishing edges. Subprime loans allowed more people than ever to buy houses that were once above their means. Higher demand fueled ever-higher prices until the spigot of cheap money was turned off and the housing bubble burst. The recession forced many well-heeled buyers into unemployment lines. And sales of homes over $1 million cratered by more than 50 per cent from the peak four years ago. “Everyone has less money than they once had,” said Amy Wright, an agent with The Real Estate Office in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif. “That has certainly affected the nouveau riche, and that’s definitely in that $1 million price point.” For people who do have the money, however, it’s the best time in years to buy luxury real estate. Rancho Santa Fe is a luxury enclave in San Diego County that has over the years lured the likes of Howard Hughes and Bill Gates. Equestrian trails border golf courses, and the most expensive home on the market is listed for $29.9 million. A couple of years ago, the idea of getting a house in Rancho Santa Fe for a paltry $1 million was laughable. Now, foreclosures and financially distressed homeowners account for about 15 per cent of sales, and home prices are down 30 per cent. In one golf-course community in the town, a 2,200-square-foot home is listed for $800,000. Residents live in a gated community where Spanish style homes surround a 250-acre Rees Jones-designed golf course and an accompanying 35,000-square foot clubhouse. In the 20 largest U.S. metro areas, about 2,800 homes sold for more than $1 million in July — down by more than half from July 2005, according to MDA DataQuick. Nati-onwide, overall home sales were down about 27 per cent, according to the National Association of Realtors. In the month of August, sellers with homes priced above $2 million were cutting prices by an average of 14 per cent, compared with the national average of 10 percent, according to Trulia.com. The good news for luxury homebuyers is that they’re getting about 20 per cent “more house” than they did two years ago, and the prestige of owning a $1 million home is returning, said John Brian Losh, CEO of luxuryrealestate.com. On Friday, the average interest rate for a 30-year “jumbo loan” (defined as a mortgage over $729,750) was 6.18 per cent — about a point higher than a conventional fixed-rate mortgage, according to Bankrate.com. That means the mortgage payment for a $1 million home (with a down payment of 20 per cent) would run about $4,900 a month, not including property taxes. A buyer would have to earn at least $200,000 a year to make the payment plus taxes — and only about 4 per cent of Americans fall into that tax bracket, 2007 Census data shows. In Fort Myers, Fla., Pat and Dennis Tyeryar are trying to sell their four-bedroom, 3,795-square-foot house on three acres for $999,700. The property is a rare slice of lush Old Florida, with moss cascading off shade trees and views of a river and lagoon. The property, valued at $1.4 million four years ago, is unique for the area because it sits on a peninsula: Every room in the house has a water view. In a recession-battered place like Saginaw, Mich., however, a person can scoop up almost 18 houses for $1 million. Or, a buyer can get a 6,360-square-foot, two-story brick palace that sits on a five-acre estate. The house is priced at $995,000. It has an indoor swimming pool and six bedrooms, but the property has been a hard sell in a market where a 2,300-square-foot home can go for $160,000, real estate agent Bruce Shaw said. Shaw said the home would have been listed for about $1.3 million during the boom. “It’s not like I get a lot of calls on it, not unless someone is moving from Southern California,” he said. In Toledo, Ohio, agent Nancy Kabat has two listings that add up to $1 million — a six-bedroom, $635,000 house in suburban Ottawa Hills, and a three-story, two-bedroom condo on the Maumee River for $360,000. The house has detailed crown molding and a renovated kitchen with granite countertops. It’s also near good schools. The condo has a view of Toledo’s landmark Anthony Wayne Bridge and is a short ride to an area with upscale restaurants and a vibrant nightlife. “You could have a house in the suburbs for the winter and have a condo on the river in the summer and use your boat,” Kabat said.
More Youths Engage In Artisanal Refining
As unemployment bites harder amidst rising cost of living, more youths in rural communities in Rivers State are now going into artisanal refining business to earn a living.
The Tide reliably gathered that some youths residing in Port Harcourt City were gradually moving to rural communities for bunkering business otherwise known as ‘kpo-fire’
Narrating his experience to The Tide, Mr Godwin Ibeneme who resides in Rumuekini in Akpor, said he was introduced into the kpor-fire business by his father.
Ibeneme, who hails from Ibaa/ Obelle area of Emohua Local Government Area, said his father compelled him to join other youths who were thriving in the business in the community.
“My father came to my house here in Rumuekini, and told me to come to the village, that other young men are making it through kpo-fire’ bunkering since I have lost my job.
“ I didn’t waste time to give it a trial, because I had really looked for what to do, since I lost my job at a fast-food company. Since then, I can tell you that I have been taking care of myself, unlike before when everything looked hopeless”, he explained.
The Tide also learnt that the kpo-fire’ business was currently thriving in Isiokpo axis of Ikwerre Local Government Area of the state.
A resident of the community who pleaded anonymity, told The Tide that there was a high level of discrimination in the business.
According to him, he decided to engage himself at the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa, to hustle for his daily bread, instead of staying idle.
The Tide recalls that the Federal Government had promised to build modular refineries in the Niger Delta region since 2019 as an alternative to illegal oil bunkering in the region as well as to create employment for the youth.
The Tide also reports that three years after the promise was made, nothing has been done in that regard.
Oyigbo Cassava Plant, Legacy Project -Akawor
The Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Rivers State, Amb. Desmond Akawor, says the cassava plant project, being executed by the Rivers State Government in Oyigbo is a legacy project that will generate huge employment for Rivers people.
He said the project was well thought out and would stand the test of time to tackle unemployment as well as ensure food availability in the state.
Akawor made the remarks during an interaction with journalists at the weekend in Port Harcourt.
According to him, the cassava plant which was supposed to be executed by the previous administrations, was initially planned to be a joint venture between the state government and some organisations, but that the other partners did not pay their counterpart funding.
“The steps taken by the Wike-led administration to bring this project to life without the counterpart funding is commendable, because of the huge economic benefits it will give to the state.
“Many people have also been employed at the construction sites of flyovers being executed by Julius Berger. Eighty percent of those working there are indigenes, while the company provides the expatriates”, he said.
The PDP chairman also hinted on the plans of the state government to privatise the Buguma fish farm and banana farm, among others, so as to make them more viable.
He said that the state government had not abandoned the projects initiated by the previous administration, but was thinking on what to do with them.
Akawor maintained that the employment of 5,000 persons into the civil service was still ongoing, saying the government is only taking time to ensure that indigenes of the state are employed.
PH Airport Resumes Skeletal International Flight Operations
Skeletal flight operations have resumed at the international wing of the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa.
This follows the lifting of the curfew that was imposed in the state by the Rivers State Government to check cases of insecurity in the state.
The Tide’s checks show that many of the airlines that operate international flights are yet to resume flight operations, even though the coast is clear for them to resume operations.
The Cronaux Airline, it was gathered, is the only airline at the moment that has fully resumed international flight.
Other airlines that operate at the international wing, like the Lufthansa Airline, Turkish Airline, and Ethiopian Airline are yet to resume operations.
The Acting Head of Corporate Affairs, FAAN, Kunle Akinbode, confirmed the resumption of international flight operations at the airport, last Friday, saying the international wing is now open for international airlines to operate.
He explained that the curfew that was imposed in the state delayed the resumption of international flights operations, even when issues of Covid-19 standard protocols had been addressed.
“Now that the curfew is over and the international wing is open for flight operations, it is left for each of the airlines to work out its own schedule for operations.
“It will not be the duty of the airport management to sort things out for them and know when to resume. I know that some have started. Lufthansa has said they will resume next month, August”, Akinbode said.
The Tide reports that the international wing of the Port Harcourt Airport had been shut since the Covid-19 lockdown, and did not reopen when other international airports in Lagos, Abuja and Kano among others reopened for international operations.
Stories by Corlins Walter
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