Friday, June 19, 2009

follow those stories

And so I thought there would be weeks of assessment blogging to be done... not just yet it seems. My take is that Judge Wettick, now being at this more than a solid decade, looks for a completely clear field before dealing with the county on any of this. Thus the news that no action is going to take place from his court until the supreme court rules on the county's appeal to stay their order for 6 months in order to give the state time to reform the system. So he is either cocking the trigger, or he is just tired of all of this.

I am not quite sure there is any sign any action on assessments is even percolating in Harrisburg, but you never know. If you think about it, it ought not to matter legally, but practically it could impact what remedy is imposed locally, or on any individual county. But given the budgetary woes in Harrisburg that are only going to be getting worse (I'll note the unemployment news out today below), it's hard to see the state looking to do anything meaninful addressing assessments. For now the Supreme Court ruling only directly and immediately impacts Allegheny County. Other states could clearly be impacted by the precedent down the road.. potentially soon. But when it comes to immediacy, few legislators are going to want to muck with the assessment system in their home areas if they do not have to.


Lawrenceville w/o Iron City...... as I said, the question now becomes what happens on that purpose-built site. Somebody help me out. I was mentioning this to someone the other day, but my memory failed me. There used to be a soda bottler in lower Bloomfield. Anyone remember the name? I say the Lawrenceville hype may have reached a near saturation point for the time being. Maybe they can take advantage of the new it-ness of Polish Hill. Redevelopment of the brewery could be called the Polish Hill Annex or something.


The Allegheny Conference has a report out saying Pittsburgh is the top energy industry region for the future. Some of us have said that earlier, though we have been talking about it long before that and long before energy prices spiked.


and the PA unemployment rate is up to 8.2%. Bad all around. Will see our regional numbers in a few weeks. I can't decide it there will at least be a temporary casino-related blip in local employment numbers in coming months. Not in the next numbers most likely, but it will be soon if it happens. But if you want to see pain, the Michigan headline today is that Michigan's unemployment rate is over 14%. As historically bad Pennsylvania's unemployment is, could it be in some coming months that it eventually comes in at half of Michigan's? I don't think that has ever been true. The tag section in that blurb is what scares me because for the auto sector as it is for Michigan: "State hasn't hit bottom yet".

That story has a great interactive chart on the story in Michigan worth playing with directly via the link there. But the image itself is scary:


Anonymous CBD said...

Since I know you are a chart-aholic just as bad as me, I thought that you might be interested in this one:

I realize that these are just the aggregates for 2008, but what do you make of our little 'heat island' here in Allegheny County? I mean, compared to OH, MI, and NJ, our state looks pretty good, but compared to the rest of the state, we come off rather bad, don't we?

Is there any accounting for this?

Friday, June 19, 2009 8:42:00 AM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

Obviously something to watch. I would just keep in mind that Ohio numbers have been easing off so the apparent similarity of Allegheny County in the shading to literally all of Ohio (and all of NJ and all of the DC metro) means less than may be inferred. I think they are just running out of things to foreclose or there has been impact of these policy things to mitigate foreclosure. In any sense there is no comparison to what has/ or has happened across Ohio.

Allegheny County is the urban core county so nobody thinks you escape the core problems that go along with that. So you need to seperate out fundamental problems from the big real estate story all around. Nobody should infer from anything I have said that we don't have real problems in certain communities here.. problems that show up in lots of way including real estate. It would be a bigger observation if Allegheny County was not worse off than the suburban county.

In fact, if you go back in time well before the current real estate miasma, we generally ranked poorly on all these metrics because our real estate markets were relatively anemic for a long time. But again, whatever the shading and I will look into that a bit.. the Allegheny County 2008 numbers are down year over year in successive years.

I think we may need to generate some more real time foreclosure metrics to see what is going on. I do have a slightly counterintuitive hypotheses that ties together a lot of things. Foreclosure is an expensive process to a degree and I have long thought a lot of our properties were too inexpensive to warrant financial institutions going through with the exercise. I wonder if there are some foreclosures popping up because the underlying values of the property make it worthwhile to try and retake and resell the properties. No, that isn't meant to be a general explanation for anything, but in some specific areas I really do wonder.

Friday, June 19, 2009 9:23:00 AM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

Looking at the more recent May 2009 Realtytrac maps and numbers. For Pennsylvania there is still that ‘island’ for Allegheny County and a metric of one property in foreclosure for every 805 units. See:

That rate is roughly half of comparable number for Ohio as a whole (1 in 445 units). See:

But if you look within Ohio it is worse in a lot of their core areas such as Cuyahoga County (1 in 348)

I would caution when looking at those charts that the color scales are dynamic to each graph. So the darkest of reds on one are not comparable to the darkest of reds on others.

So I would say that the Allegheny County rate is not an order of magnitude lower than most of Ohio, but again.. Ohio has slowed in foreclosures for reasons that may just reflect exhaustion. I really am not sure the local foreclosure rate is all that much above its historic baseline depending on what period you define for comparison.

Friday, June 19, 2009 3:23:00 PM  

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