…and you still happily shop here.

One of life’s joys is the “I told you so,” because it is so often precluded by a period of scorn and disbelief. Last week I had a bumper crop, but let’s talk about Amazon’s HQ2.

You remember that? The corporate welfare pageant where municipalities fell over themselves, checkbooks flailing in the breeze, trying to lure Amazon to places its corporate relocation team had already picked? Yeah, that.

The Metroplex was one of those entries, and we even made it past the first culling before being sent home roseless, our taxpayer checkbook tucked firmly between our legs. New York may have kicked them out, but Amazon continues to hire there, albeit fewer than the 25,000 expected from their half of HQ2. Amazon wanted a presence in New York regardless of the freebies.

On the other hand, Virginia, happy to accept the Amazon bouquet, has seen home prices surge by 17 percent while property owners hoping for more, have caused new listings to crater – one zip code near HQ2 saw an 85.3 percent decrease in new listings. This has essentially frozen the market and caused property tax bills to swell.  Everyone’s expecting that once hiring picks up with HQ2, the lid will be blown off valuations. The same thing is playing out in the rental market especially in areas with the lowest rents as REITs and investors move in.

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high school

From staff reports

The good news? A person with a high school diploma could (in theory) afford to buy a home in North Texas. The bad news? It will probably take seven years (at least) to save the down payment.

A new Zillow research report matched median mortgage payments in the country’s 50 largest metro areas for the first quarter of this year to the most recent American Community Survey incomes for each educational level, adjusting the latter’s 2017 figures for 2019’s inflation.

Somewhat surprisingly, 36 of those 50 fleshed out to be theoretically affordable to households earning the income associated with a high school diploma-level of education. Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, and Austin were among the 36 cities named.

In fact, in Oklahoma City, a potential homebuyer wouldn’t even need a high school diploma to afford the median-valued home. (more…)

ALICE

More than 40 percent of Texans are one even minor catastrophe away from being unable to afford even the most basic needs, the United Way’s report on asset limited, income constrained, employed (or, ALICE) households revealed last week.

The most recent ALICE report looks at how many in each state and county lived below its threshold in 2016.

“The ALICE Threshold is the bare-minimum economic survival level that is based on the local cost of living in each area,” the United Way said. The average person that falls under that threshold earns above the Federal Poverty Level, but not enough to afford even the most bare-bones of budgets that account for housing, child care, food, transportation, health care, and necessary technology.

Statewide, about 42.1 percent have a hard time making ends meet, the report revealed, which is a much larger number than the state’s 14 percent poverty rate. (more…)