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Sustainable Development

ONE BRYANT PARK

The most interesting thing to me about the building at One Bryant Park is the use of natural air flow. The design of the building uses natural air flow and green spaces to dramatically reduce the amount of energy needed to cool and air condition the building. On top of that, a filtration system inside One Bryant Park Tower actually filters the air that enters the building, leaving the air cleaner when it exits the building than when it entered. It’s really cool because that effectively makes the building a giant air filter for the City of New York. This way, the city is not only economically better off because of the building, but also environmentally better off. Here’s the link to the video of One Bryant Park…

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MASDAR SUSTAINABLE CITY PROJECT

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KQjTGCXwJTs

In the United Arab Emirates, near Abu Dhabi, a city is being developed as a renewable energy initiative. It has businesses, retail centers, research facilities and residents who desire to live in a place with sustainable development. To create an entire city focused on sustainable development is fairly radical in and of itself, however, this is likely where the future is headed. To meet their goal of maximized sustainability, the city of Masdar utilizes simple ideas which have a large effect over time.

Masdar For example, it’s buildings were constructed with an orientation to the sun which maximizes shade and wind, keeping cooling costs down. Next, it has a wind tower that brings cool air down into the middle of the city to cool it’s center down. Simple ideas (and other more advanced ideas also) make the city of Masdar the sustainable city of the future. While already developed cites cannot implement many of the changes to become as sustainable as Masdar, many sustainable features of Masdar will likely be integrated into older, bigger cities. Meanwhile, if Masdar turns out to be a success, more sustainable cities should be developed. Still, Masdar only has 9,000 residents living inside. However, the developers want to eventually populate the city with up to 90,000 people. 

 

GREEN BUILDING COMPONENT- CALMAC ICEBANK TANKS

What intrigues me are the extremely simple ideas that work so well. There’s nothing fancy about creating ice while it’s cooler at night to melt during the day to cool down a building. That’s just a novel idea which works really well. At One Bryant Park Tower in New York City, the Calmac IceBank Tanks help make the building as sustainable as it is.

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http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/making-ice-night-cool-buildings

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Real Estate Trend- Crowdfunding

There is a new way of funding Real Estate investments- crowdfunding. Instead of needing large amounts of capital and bank loans and personally researching properties to invest in Real Estate, investors can go through an online Real Estate crowdfunding site to search for properties to invest in while requiring far less capital. This may unseat traditional banks and investment players in the Real Estate world but overall, it may increase the amount of capital available for investment overall by allowing smaller investors to participate. As an example of how crowdfunding might work, on a site such as https://fundrise.com/ an investor can sign up, search for a property they’d like to fund, and with just $5000, invest in a Real Estate property. I chose this trend because it is an interesting trend and, potentially, a way to invest in Real Estate while I’m still young and not so rich. Image

Which Property Would be a Good Investment?

If I was to invest in Real Estate in Conroe, Texas, I would most definitely invest in Retail Space. Recently, home sales have spiked in Conroe which has and will increase retail sales in Conroe. This graph shows the increase, specifically in 2012…

ImageOn top of this, the Exxon Mobil plant which is being built will continue to increase home sales around the area which will, again, boost retail sales. Conroe has no shortage of retail space in Conroe. In fact, Conroe has $36,608 retail sales per capita annually whereas the average in Texas is $13,061. That’s a very impressive amount of retail sales so Conroe will be a great place to invest in Retail. Finally, the vacancy rate in Conroe is 2% below the national average. This shows that, although residential development and home sales have increased, people are so eager to move in that the vacancy rate is kept low.

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Foreclosure Story- Don Cruz HGTV Dream Home

foreclosure

I often watched HGTV’s Dream Home with my family around the dinner table growing up. My mom loved everything about HGTV and the whole family enjoyed the heart-warming stories found on Dream Home. However, I never knew that, in most cases, the family receiving the home turns right around and sells the home as soon as the cameras are turned off. Typically, as this article explains, the mortgage payments are too high and so most winners sell the house, and use the money to buy a more affordable home. Nevertheless, Don Cruz and his family decided to make the house they won on the show home. Then shortly after the show, Don Cruz’ family piled up multiple medical bills. His father got cancer and his wife needed brain surgery. To pay for these operations and other monthly expenses, Mr. Cruz used money from the mortgage loan on the house and fell four months behind on monthly payments. On top of that, the housing market quickly took a downturn which dropped the value of the house from $5 million to $1.43 million. All these factors combined to force the Cruz’ home to be foreclosed on in a non-judicial procedure. When, asked about the sequence of events, Don Cruz said his family would just about break even after the foreclosure sale and maintained that the house was a blessing.

My Hometown- Conroe, Texas

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To start research for this blog post, I simply typed my hometown, Conroe, Texas, into the Google search engine. I wasn’t just overwhelmed with excitement about the assignment and I really just wanted to speed through it. However, now, I’m very excited about the assignment because the first link I saw was to an article about a Real Estate blog by Laura Allen (no, we are not related) of Movoto that ranks Conroe in the Top 10 Most Exciting Places in Texas. Better than that, it’s ranked just above Dallas. Well, I must say, my Real Estate blog wholeheartedly agrees with Ms. Laura’s Real Estate blog. Check out her blog!

http://www.movoto.com/blog/top-ten/exciting-texas/

Just so you know, here is the criteria used for the top 100 most populated cities:

  • Nightlife per capita (bars, clubs, comedy, etc.)
  • Live music venues per capita
  • Active life options per capita (parks, outdoor activities, etc.)
  • Fast Food restaurants per capita (the fewer the better)
  • Percentage of restaurants that are not fast food (the higher the better)
  • Percentage of young residents ages 18 to 34 (the higher the better)

Yep, Conroe came in third, tied with Houston. Consider visiting…

Now, on to describe Conroe overall:

GROWTH PATTERN, ECONOMY, DEMOGRAPHICS AND LIFESTYLE CHARACTERISTICS
Lake Conroe

Twenty-five years ago, Conroe was a sleepy bedroom community in the Piney Woods of Texas with a population of 28,991 in the year 1990. Since, Conroe has exploded with growth. The growth is primarily along Interstate 45 which runs North to South from Dallas to Houston and around the lake. There’s a few reasons for this growth. As Houston’s reach expands north, Conroe is becoming a more prominent suburb of the big city. As I’ve grown up, development all over has exploded and if I had to guess, the number of restaurants has probably quadrupled since my family moved in during 1996. I am not a stranger to the frustrating amount of construction we have in College Station. Next, there’s the lake. Lake Conroe is loved by people all over the state. It’s quality fishing and water sports make it an excellent place to live, visit or own a lake house. Finally, the job market around Conroe has been excellent in recent years. To add to this, Exxon-Mobil is building a huge site just south of Conroe which will boost the job market even more and increase development.

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Conroe’s population of 61,533 (according to 2012 statistics) looks very similar to other Texas cities. With 48.3% White residents, 38.5% Hispanic residents, and 10.3% Black residents, it almost mirrors the average in Texas. However, the median age (Conroe-31.50) is significantly younger than the median in Texas (33.60) which is already a relatively young state. Another major difference is the income level. Unfortunately, Conroe’s average income is 20% below the national average and has about 7% more of its population under the poverty line than what is average in the nation. However, with continued job growth prospects, this should change rapidly.

Finally, Conroe’s political district is among the most conservative in the nation. The majority of votes are cast toward the Republican Party and liberal politicians are few and far between in Conroe.

Overall, Conroe was an incredible place to live growing up. It’s not so rural that there’s “nothing to do” but it’s not just a big city that’s nothing more than a concrete jungle. It has exciting events, a fantastic lake, a good night life, all the excellent restaurants you could ever want all the while maintaining gentle Piney Woods forests that are beautiful and fun to explore. I definitely recommend that you visit.

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Property Rights

REAL PROPERTY VS REAL ESTATE

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According to our textbook, real estate refers to the physical land and structures in property, while real property consists of the legal interests associated with the ownership of the physical property. These two terms are nearly synonymous, so much so that you’ll have a difficult time finding an answer to the differences between the two if you do a Google search. To reiterate, real estate refers to the actual physical property while real property is a legal term referring to the ownership of of the real estate.

The question often arises, “What rights do I have with my own property?” While it might seen like you should be able to do whatever you want with your own property, there are actually quite a few rules concerning what you can do with your real estate. Consequently, from time to time, people do things with their own real estate that upsets other people and a dispute arises. The people involved go through a lot of trouble and stress and money to prove they’re right while everyone else gets to watch. Here is a link to an example of a dispute over property rights:

http://hamptonroads.com/2013/09/site-civil-war-battle-heart-property-rights-dispute

In this case, there’s a dispute between a landowner who wants his property to keep it’s “mixed use” designation, a group of conservationists who want to preserve the land due to the Civil War history involved with it, and the U.S. Navy who don’t want residential homes built in the area because how it would interfere with the training that goes on at a specialized base there. Read the article and decide whose rights are the right rights…

 

PRIVATE RESTRICTIONS ON REAL ESTATE

Like I mentioned before, you can’t just do whatever you want with your real estate. You might upset your neighbors, or the HOA or the nearly-extinct frog that decided to hop through your yard. If the world was all yours, you could do whatever you wanted but we have to share so there are restrictions with what we can do. Here, I’m discussing Private Restrictions on ownership. These include, covenants, conditions, and restrictions, liens, easements, profit a prendre, adverse posession and encroachments. Here’s a quick definition for each.

  • Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions- private encumbrances that limit the way a property owner can use a property.
  • Lien- claim on a property as either security for a debt or fulfillment of some monetary charge or obligation.
  • Easement- a right given to one party by a landowner to use the land in a specified manner.
  • Profit a Prendre- a nonpossessory interest in real property that permits the holder to remove a part of the soil or produce of the land.
  • Encroachment- an authorized invasion or intrusion of a fixture, a building, or other improvement onto another person’s property.
  • Adverse Possession- allows individuals to acquire title to land they do not own because they have openly possessed it for a statutory period of time.

There’s a lot to each of those subjects but that’s a quick break-down of each. To further explain, here’s a link to an article involving Private Restrictions on ownership:

http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/2014-04-24/news/fl-squatter-eviction-challenge-20140424_1_new-tenant-routine-eviction-landlord

This article is about everybody’s favorite real estate topic- Adverse Possession. A lady in Coral Springs, Florida (who has been evicted 9 times in the past 10 years) remained in her duplex she has on lease after failing to pay rent and is refusing to leave. Florida has sketchy adverse possession laws though so her landlord is having trouble removing her from his property. Read on to find out details about the story.

 

PUBLIC RESTRICTIONS ON REAL ESTATE

Along with the many Private Restrictions on real estate are several Public Restrictions on ownership as well. The government has to get in on the game of restricting property rights as well. These restrictions come from certain powers that governments hold. These powers, with a quick definition, follow:

  • Taxation- the ability of a government to levy property and income taxes.
  • Eminent Domain-the ability of a government to acquire property for a public use, even if the owner doesn’t want to sell as long as the owner receives “just compensation”.
  • Police Power- the power of regulation in order to protect the public health, safety, morals, and general welfare.
  • Escheat- the power of a government to acquire property if a owner dies without a will or living relative.

There is no shortage of juicy disputes concerning Public Restrictions on ownership. Here’s a link to an article of one:

http://foxct.com/2014/04/24/family-battling-town-of-bloomfield-in-eminent-domain-dispute/

This article describes a family who owns a parcel of land with a dirt bike track on it, which the local government is grabbing up on a basis of eminent domain. Unfortunately, the property has been appraised at about half the value the owner bought it at and it seems as if he has no defense against the governments power of eminent domain. That’s unfortunate, because, being a dirt biker myself, I know how fun it is.

HOME, SWEET HOME

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Here is a picture of the home I have lived in with my Mom, Dad and two brothers since I was 4 years old. Just thinking about this home nearly makes me cry because of all the amazing memories…What is so awesome about it? It’s beautiful. My parents built this house so we are the only family to ever live there. It has amazing front and back yards as well as an abundance of woods to explore all around. And finally, my loving family lives inside of it. This piece of property is so special to me that after 4 years of primarily living in College Station, I still consider this house my home. Little compares to the feeling of peace I get when I roll up the driveway in my car after being away in College Station. I’m not a very sentimental person but if my parents were to sell our house, first, I would cry. And then, from time to time, I would sneak inside of it and go sit in my room. Actually, my parents will never sell it. I won’t let them.