Forbes top 10 retirement spots
2009/05/26, 6:26 pm
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With the economy in turmoil and lifestyle preferences changing, traditional retirement counties aren’t looking as attractive as they used to. With this in mind, Forbes magazine set out to identify the Best Places to Grow Old.

The magazine mined data from the U.S. Census Bureau to determine where people older than 65 live now. It examined housing costs, employment opportunities, and the availability of hospitals and eldercare facilities, among other things.

Of counties with populations greater than 500,000, here are Forbes’ top picks of places in which to grow old gracefully:

  1. Montgomery County, Pa.
  2. Nassau County, N.Y.
  3. Pima County, Ariz.
  4. Palm Beach County, Fla.
  5. Honolulu County, Hawaii
  6. Brevard County, Fla.
  7. Montgomery County, Md.
  8. Ocean County, N.J.
  9. Westchester County, N.Y.
  10. Lancaster County, Pa.

Source: Forbes, Lauren Sherman (05/18/2009)


10 riskiest US housing markets
2009/04/08, 6:32 pm
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 Even with hints of a housing recovery in some places, risky markets, dominated by nonprime mortgages, still prevail in a number of areas.

Forbes magazine and Moody’s surveyed the 200 largest metropolitan areas, adding up the number of loans to low-rated borrowers and dividing that sum by the total number of mortgages to calculate the percentage of each area’s market that is below prime.

Here are the 10 metro areas with the highest percentages of nonprime mortgages, which makes them susceptible to defaults as unemployment rates continue to rise.

  • Mission, Texas
  • Detroit
  • Miami
  • Brownsville, Texas
  • Merced, Calif.
  • Lakeland, Fla.
  • Bakersfield, Calif.
  • Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
  • San Bernardino, Calif.
  • Visalia, Calif.

Source: Forbes, Maha Atal (03/31/2009)

Real Estate Gaming
2009/04/06, 12:56 pm
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Board game teaches lessons on business and Real Estate.

Video:  Click on the below link.

Top 10 most heavily taxed states
2009/04/01, 7:05 pm
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Top 10 Most Heavily Taxed States
It’s April, so people’s thoughts are turning to taxes, and where they live makes a big difference in how much they pay.

Here are the 10 states with the highest taxes, including property, individual income, sales, alcoholic beverages, tobacco, motor vehicles, hunting and fishing, motor fuels, death and gift taxes, as well as insurance premiums. The per capita tax was derived by adding up all the taxes and dividing the total by the number of citizens.

1. Vermont, $3,861
2. Hawaii, $3,856
3. Connecticut, $3,596
4. Minnesota, $3,203
5. New Jersey, $3,024
6. New York, $3,019
7. Massachusetts, $2,953
8. Washington, $2,553
9. Wyoming, $2,357
10. Pennsylvania, $2,223

Source: Forbes, Matt Woolsey (03/30/2009)

America’s most congested cities
2009/03/03, 4:20 am
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Lauren Sherman, 02.25.09, 12:01 AM ET

Stefani Cole spends much of her day in traffic.

For two years, the 26-year-old marketing associate commuted from her home in Long Beach, Calif., to her job at a radio station in Burbank. The 40-mile drive takes about 45 minutes without traffic but averages between two to two-and-a-half hours during rush hour.

“I would try to get to the office early and work later so that I would miss the major traffic,” says Cole. “But if there was a wreck or something, forget it. It was going to be bad no matter what.”

In Depth: America’s Most Congested Cities

In September 2008, Cole decided enough was enough. She packed her bags and moved to Burbank. She now lives just eight miles from work. Her commute, however, is still 25 to 30 minutes. That shouldn’t have come as much surprise, since the roads of Los Angeles are the most congested in the country.

That was the case last year, and is again this year, according to Kirkland, Wash.-based research firm Inrix, which provides real-time, historical and predictive traffic information to television stations and other groups across the U.S.

Following L.A., to round out the top five, are New York, Chicago, Dallas and Washington, D.C.

Behind the Numbers
To determine America’s Most Congested Cities, Inrix collects data from nearly 800,000 anonymous, GPS-equipped commercial vehicles–in the 100 largest census-defined metropolitan statistical areas–that report their speed and location continuously. Inrix then processes and blends other relevant traffic-related data such as road sensors, toll tags, traffic-incident data and other resources to figure out when, why and for how long particular roads experience bottlenecking.

The worst hour for travel in Los Angeles, on average, is Thursday at 5 p.m. In New York, the second-worst city for congestion in the country, it’s Friday at 5 p.m. Like L.A., Chicago and Washington are at their worst on Thursdays at 5 p.m., while Dallas, like New York, is most congested on Fridays at 5 p.m.

But the devil really isn’t in the details; it’s unsurprising that these cities come out on top when it comes to congestion. The top four spots on the list also have the largest populations in the country: Los Angeles–12.9 million; New York–18.8 million; Chicago–9.5 million; and Dallas–6.2 million.

What is surprising, however, is that every single city on our list of 20 saw a decrease in congestion over the 2008 calendar year. Some of the cities with the largest decreases in traffic include Riverside, Calif.–which saw congestion drop by 57% –and Detroit, where congestion was whittled by 47%.

Slow Economy, Faster Commutes
That has a lot to do with high gas prices and the recession. Since the recession has affected nearly every corner of the country, congestion is down across the board. Americans drove 3.8 billion fewer miles in December 2008 than they drove in December 2007, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. Even Los Angeles–a city known as well for its treacherous 10-lane highways as for its abundance of movie studios–felt some relief at the beginning of 2008, with congestion down 24% from 2007.

Riverside was hit incredibly hard by the subprime mortgage crisis–the median home price in the area has plummeted 55% over the last 18 months–meaning more of the city’s residents were struggling to pay their bills. Filling up a gas tank is one of those expenses.

Detroit, of course, has been heavily affected by the fall of the U.S. auto industry. A lack of employment results in a lack of the need to drive.

“There was definitely a point last year when more people were carpooling and traffic died down a bit,” says Cole. However, as gas prices have decreased (currently down to $1.99 a gallon at some stations in Los Angeles from $4.60 in June 2008), traffic has increased yet again. But regardless of how cheap gas is, job loss makes fueling up an expensive proposition.

“We’re seeing economic impact across the board,” says Scott Sedlik, vice president of marketing at Inrix. “Traffic is a great indicator in terms of keeping the pulse on [a city’s] economy.”

If you liked this story, read:

Best And Worst Cities For Commuters

America’s Fastest-Changing Cities

There are some cities, however, that have made a concerted effort to reduce congestion, independent of the economy. Atlanta, for example, saw a 36% decrease from 2007 to 2008 because of government-funded initiatives such as suburban park-and-rides. These allow those who live outside of the city’s boundaries to park cheaply in a lot and take public transportation to the office.

Places like New York, however, are short on new options: Subways and buses are already filled to capacity. That’s why officials like New York’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg are lobbying for a new “congestion” tax–which will require citizens to pay for the privilege of driving in crowded zones of Manhattan.

Congested as a city might get, however, it’s not necessarily the sort of thing that pushes commuters to relocate altogether. Moving to another city costs money, and that’s not something most people have a lot of right now. Even Cole, who moved closer to work because of her frustration with traffic, says she wouldn’t give up on Los Angeles for an easier commute.

“I’ve lived in Southern California for eight years, and you just learn to manage it,” she says. “Everyone works around the traffic.”

In Depth: America’s Most Congested Cities

America’s best and worst housing markets
2009/02/25, 7:04 pm
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As the housing downturn wears on, some cities are stabilizing and some

In Las Vegas, the weakest market in the country, prices continue to drop.

“I don’t know what those guys were drinking when they thought all this building made sense. If it does work out soon, then there’s some force out there in the universe that I’m not aware of,” Steve Cesinger, chief financial officer at Dewberry Capital, an Atlanta-based real estate investment firm.

Forbes magazine analyzed monthly declines as well as year-over-year declines in home prices. It also looked at how many months of equity homeowners have lost. With these figures in mind, it determined the 10 best and the 10 worst U.S. housing markets. Here they are::

10 Best
New York City
Washington, DC
Charlotte, N.C.
Portland, Ore
San Diego
Los Angeles

10 Worst
Las Vegas
San Francisco

Source: Forbes: Matt Woolsey (02/24/2005)

America’s fastest changing cities
2009/02/18, 11:01 am
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Real Estate
America’s Fastest-Changing Cities
Matt Woolsey, 02.17.09, 4:00 PM ET

What a difference six months make.

Take Manhattan. In July, Wall Street-area apartment seekers were by and large out of luck. Average rental prices had hit an all-time high, and inventory was tight. And the well-suited bankers pouring out of Sloane Street bars belied a recession.

Within a few months, though, Lehman Brothers folded, the S&P 500 lost half its peak value and layoffs mounted.

Now, asking prices for rentals are down 10% from July, according to the Real Estate Group New York, a research firm, and people are packing up: 373,364 residents have left New York City in the last year, according to the Internal Revenue Service, a net loss of 80,000. Unemployment is at 7.8%, above the national average of 7.2%, thanks to a 10% December drop in financial services jobs. The U.S. Conference of Mayors estimates New York will lose 181,000 jobs in 2009.
In Depth: America’s 10 Fastest-Changing Cities

This type of change is being felt across the country. Plummeting housing prices, a growing cost of living and high unemployment have people leaving Los Angeles in droves. How fast are they ditching the basin? If you add up all the households abandoning Detroit, Miami and New York, three of the country’s fastest-changing cities, it’s still less than the net outflow of Los Angeles. That ranks the City of Angels first.

Behind the Numbers
Based on housing price, inflation, employment and migration trend data from ZoomProspector, a San Francisco-based business relocation consultancy, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Internal Revenue Service, National Association of Realtors and Census Department, Forbes evaluated the 40 largest U.S. cities to determine where the economic landscape has changed most over the last year. These cities are not Census-defined metropolitan statistical areas, but core urban areas.

We “are in financial distress, but the economic pain is not evenly distributed by geography,” says Anatalio Ubalde, chief executive of ZoomProspector. “It doesn’t always come down to something as simple as the coast versus the Midwest. The numbers don’t always bear that out as much as people want simple economic explanations that are geographic.”

What is simple: Shifts in housing prices, inflation and employment are altering America’s cities. In Detroit, 20% unemployment means a vacant inner city where one can buy homes for $1. In Miami, where home prices fell 16.9% and inflation rose 4.2% in 2008, change plays out in empty storefronts and unfinished buildings dotting the skyline. Formerly a sign of urban renewal and job creation, those construction projects now embody a staggering hangover from the heady housing boom.

These issues wreak havoc on local governments. Just as falling home values, and, as a result, lower property tax assessments, hit local and state municipalities in the wallet, unemployment and turmoil in the private sector hammer the public tax base. In New York, for example, troubles on Wall Street are expected to suck $3.5 billion from state budgets, according to the comptroller’s office.

In tough times like these, cities are particularly focused on attracting new industries that can bring in cash and jobs to the region. One major target? Overseas companies looking to relocate.

“A lot of companies went overseas and are now moving back to the U.S. to consolidate,” says Pat O’Brien, executive director of the Milwaukee 7, an economic development group. He points to the recent move of C&D Technologies, a Blue Bell, Pa.-based energy storage company employing 300 workers, from China back to Milwaukee, where it owns a plant.

“We focus on driver industries,” he says. “Those industries that sell goods and services outside of the region, thereby creating new capital investment into the region.”

It’s a great idea and a perfect way to save a sliding economy that’s changing for the worse. The only problem is execution. After all, in this economy, where every city is shedding jobs, there are more areas looking for growing companies than there are companies looking for new cities.