October 31, 2018
ValuePenguin quoted me in The Cost of Owning a Home Is Rising. It reads, in part,
If you’ve looked lately at home prices in any major U.S. city, you likely got a dose of sticker shock thanks to a red-hot housing market that shows few signs of cooling off. And if that wasn’t enough of a setback for prospective homebuyers, now news comes that the cost of owning a home is rising.
In October, average mortgage rates reached 4.9%, the highest they’ve been since 2010, according to a new report from the Urban Institute. While it’s only an incremental increase over 2017’s average rate of 4.1%, it could affect both current homeowners and would-be buyers.
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What do rising mortgage rates mean for prospective home buyers?
With mortgage rates on the rise, homebuyers may need to reassess their budgets. “Homebuyers seeking to purchase a home priced at $275,000 when interest rates were at 4% will see an increase in their monthly payment of approximately $150,” said John Myers, a qualifying broker at Myers & Myers Real Estate in Albuquerque, New Mexico. “A homebuyer who could quality for a $275,000 home at a 4% interest rate will now qualify for a home of approximately $243,000.”
But despite average mortgage rates sitting at an 8-year high, it’s still considered low enough to be attractive to millions of Americans who dream of owning a home. “Five percent remains a very low interest rate for mortgages over the long term,” said David Reiss, a professor of law and real estate expert at the Brooklyn Law School. “They were over 7% in the early ‘70s and over 17% in the early ‘80s. Rates like today’s have not been seen for more than 50 years.”
Reiss told ValuePenguin he believes that nearing the 5% threshold has more of a psychological impact than anything else, and that would-be homeowners should instead focus on how much house they need and can afford. “If the monthly cost is manageable and the house meets the needs of your family, then ignore this marker,” he said. “If you are not sure you can afford that cost month-in and month-out for the foreseeable future, then find something that is more manageable, whatever the interest rate you are offered.”
October 29, 2018
The York Daily Record quoted me in York County Neighborhoods That Once Barred ‘Any Negro or Mongolian’ Still Do Harm. It opens,
When the Rev. David and Eulamae Orr moved into the Fayfield neighborhood in Springettsbury Township in 1963, they were the first to break the color barrier in the all-white suburban subdivision.
While the Orrs were a well-known and respected York-area black couple, owners of several business enterprises and active in civil rights, their purchase of the South Harlan Street home was uncommon enough at the time to draw headlines in local newspapers.
“My parents were very dignified about it,” Charles Orr, who inherited the home, said in a 1999 interview. “They simply said it was our right, that they had worked hard, that they always had wanted a larger, nicer house and were now able to afford it.”
The color barrier that the Orrs broke through, however, was multi-layered and resilient. People found other ways to keep minorities out of the white neighborhoods even after the Orrs had crossed the line. In fact, social and economic obstacles blocking access to fair housing for minorities remain today.
And urban planning experts say such racial barriers must come down if the city and the county of York are to reach their full potential.
Restrictions elsewhere in York County
By 1963, the 1947 Fayfield subdivision restriction prohibiting the occupancy of any Fayfield home “by any Negro, or any person of Negro extraction, excepting domestic servants …” had disappeared.
The same discriminatory restrictions against minority ownership were found in the 1931 subdivision plan for the proposed Wyndham Hills area. That covenant prohibited home ownership or occupancy by any “negro” or “Mongolian.”
Brooklyn Law School Professor David Reiss, Academic Program Director for The Center for Urban Business Entrepreneurship, explained the term “Mongolian” in that time period was used to refer to “various people of Asian descent, including those of Chinese and Japanese heritage.”
The Wyndham Hills deed restriction placed minority home ownership under its “Nuisances” clause along with operating a foundry, a slaughterhouse, bone-boiling “or other establishment offensive to the neighborhood.”
And, it wasn’t just in the middle- and upper-class York County suburbs either. Two city homes a block apart on West Kurtz Avenue and West Maple Street, for example, carried the same minority ownership restrictions.
That initial covenant restriction against minority home ownership in Fayfield was to be open to a vote among home owners in the neighborhood in 1952. Fayfield homeowners were to vote whether the prohibition against minority ownership was to be removed, rescinded, altered, changed or extended for definite periods of time or perpetuity.
If that vote ever took place, York County historical records don’t easily reveal any documentation of it.
Now illegal, but effects remain
Steve Snell, former president of Realtors Association of York and Adams Counties, said those covenants and restrictions — while apparently legal when written — became blatantly unlawful. He couldn’t be sure if Fayfield homeowners took any action against them or if they were quietly removed as houses in the neighborhood were resold.
These covenants and restrictions kept minorities concentrated in impoverished neighborhoods, primarily in the city of York. The effects of this concentration of poverty remain today, according to acclaimed urban planner David Rusk and others who have studied York. Those effects are seen in everything from the rate of homicide to the school dropout rate.