Feb 20

An amazing story of the lead up to the housing bubble

http://www.workingre.com/interview-appraiser-who-brought-down-countrywide/

Among the many firms and individuals who acted irresponsibly, and maybe criminally, perhaps none did so with such flair and recklessness as Countrywide Financial.  Before its rescue-sale to Bank of America (BOA), Countrywide was the largest mortgage lender in the United States.

Feb 15

Two bills being proposed by the WI legislature. One allows for eviction moratoriums, the other restricts using eviction records for screening. This emphases the dangers that face our industry if we are not actively involved legislatively.

Bills like this, if passed, increase the cost of housing for tenants who pay their rent as the rent losses will be spread across the entire tenant population.

Back in the early nineties there was a Christmas eviction moratorium that basically allowed tenants who did not pay December rent to stay until mid to late January. We fought it and defeated it. It made to the New York Times.
https://www.nytimes.com/1991/12/29/us/scrooge-visits-tenants-in-milwaukee.html

WI Proposed Law Allowing for Eviction Moratoriums

http://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/raw/proposal/2019/-0131

Analysis by the Legislative Reference Bureau
Under current law, no city, village, town, or county may enact or enforce an ordinance that imposes a moratorium on a landlord from pursuing an eviction action against a tenant of the landlord’s residential or commercial property.

This bill repeals that provision.


WI Proposed Law Restricting Use of Eviction Records for Screening

http://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/raw/proposal/2019/-0201

Analysis by the Legislative Reference Bureau

This bill provides that it is discrimination under the state open housing law to do any of the following:

1. Inquire, whether orally or in writing, of a prospective tenant or any other individual about any eviction of a prospective tenant that occurred more than five years prior. The bill prohibits a prospective tenant from being asked about prior evictions unless the prospective tenant is informed that evictions more than five years old need not be disclosed.

2. Refuse to rent housing to an individual, or otherwise treat an individual unequally in the terms, conditions, or privileges of rental of housing, because of an eviction of the individual that occurred more than five years prior to the date of a rental application.

The open housing law is administered by the Department of Workforce Development, which receives, investigates, and evaluates complaints of violations and may order relief in appropriate cases. Persons who allege a violation of the open housing law may also bring a civil action.

Feb 10

Here is the first “final” draft of the one page form and flowchart for animal accommodation request. This is only a draft, put out for feed back and comments. This form is based on HUD’s recently released Guidance on Documenting a Person’s Need for Assistance Animals in Housing.

I previously posted a draft flowchart for reasonable accommodation requests for assistance animals to use while making the determination.

Initially I did not feel the new HUD guidelines offered much relief from the problem with people who skirted no pet policies with fake “service animals”

After working through this I feel that this will prevent many of the problem we are currently experiencing, while protecting the tenant that has a true need for a service or support animal. While fake service animals concern me, I have no sympathy for the owner that would deny or charge extra for a seeing eye dog, a service dog for a person in a wheelchair, a person suffering from PTSD, etc.

Clarifying that the accommodation only applies if the requester has a disability that imposes a substantial limitation on major life activities is important.

Clarifying that property owners can request documentation of both a disability and the need for a disability-related need for the animal from a licensed professional rather than having to accept some $29 vest from Amazon as proof is important.

Feb 09

Yesterday I wrote a brief post on HUD’s newly released guideline on “Assessing a Person’s Request to Have an Animal”

No owner should object to true service dogs, think seeing eye dog, etc. However the proliferation of tenants trying to skirt no pet policies by calling fluffy a service animal has gotten out of control. There is also the rights of other tenants who have allergies to furry critters to consider.

Since the guideline has been released we’ve been working on creating tools for our staff and others to use in making determinations on tenants’ reasonable accommodation requests for having a support animal. We don’t want to deny a person something they need for major life activities, but we also are not happy with properties turning into a zoo full of uncontrolled animals.

Here is our draft version of a flowchart based on the HUD document. I am posting it for comments and corrections. Please do not base any decisions on this at this time. When this is updated, I will post the new version on this site.

Feb 08

Just over a week ago HUD issued a new guidance document on service animals and emotional support animal accommodations for housing providers It is 19 pages. There is a lot to digest.

The HUD press release on assistance animals is worth reading as well.

At first read I did not feel the new document was that helpful in addressing abuses by some pet owners and the internet “service animal document mills” that aim to exploit both pet owner and housing providers.

Once I got into it a bit more, I believe that this will help greatly reduce the amount of “service dog’ fraud, while protecting those who need assistance animals.

We are working on a flowchart and other tools for owners to use in making proper determinations.

Stay tuned for more.

Feb 04


For many reasons I’ve felt that much of commercial real estate is a poor investment. From Amazon keeping people out of stores, to increasing work from home arrangements. My daughter does an important job for AT&T. She has worked from her living room for many years, since they closed their main Brookfield office.

Now there is one more reason for companies to abandon commercial space – pandemics .

“It’s a good opportunity for us to test working from home at scale,” said Alvin Foo, managing director of Reprise Digital, a Shanghai ad agency with 400 people that’s part of Interpublic Group. “Obviously, not easy for a creative ad agency that brainstorms a lot in person.” It’s going to mean a lot of video chats and phone calls, he said.

Bloomberg 2-2-2020

Jan 31

Here s something that we as an organization had spoken of over the years.  Joe (Yusuf) Dahl, the former AASEW president, has made it a reality out east where he runs a school of entrepreneurship at Lafayette.  


Milwaukee needs this as well. Joe, are you coming back anytime soon?  😉

First-of-a-kind program aims to help people get into real estate

ALLENTOWN, Pa. – City Center Allentown and Lafayette College are coming together to launch a first-of-a-kind program to help people get into real estate. 

Yusuf Dahl’s life story took him from prison in Milwaukee to Princeton University, and now he wants to help others do the same.

“The goal of this program is to create a pathway to real estate entrepreneurship for people who have historically been excluded,” Dahl said.

Dec 14

The is a great, worth the time to read, article on landlord regulation over at BiggerPockets.

Dec 04

The question came up on the ApartmentAssoc@Groups.io:
Who are the elected reps we can write to about the MPS proposal?

I believe the only ones that actually decide on the policies is the MPS School Board and perhaps the Superintendent. However, they may be influenced by what other local officials think about an issue. Certainly Tom Barrett and the Council should be worried about things that may result in more austerity for Milwaukeans and less money for the city.

Superintendent Dr. Keith Posley He lists a Twitter account of @DrPosleyMPS The only phone number on his page is the main MPS Switchboard: (414) 475-8393

Sadly, only two of the Board members list a number other than the MPS Office of Board Governance and none a direct email.

MPS Office of Board Governance
Phone: 414-475-8284
Fax: 414-475-8071
Email: governance@milwaukee.k12.wi.us

https://mps.milwaukee.k12.wi.us/en/District/About-MPS/School-Board/School-Board-Members.htm

District #1 — Marva Herndon

District #2 — Erika Siemsen

District #3 — Sequanna Taylor

District #4 — Annie Woodward (414) 342-1813

District #5 — Larry Miller (President) (414)469-9319

District #6 — Luis A. (Tony) Báez, Ph.D. (Vice President)

District #7 — Paula Phillips

District #8 — Megan O’Halloran

Member at Large — Bob Peterson

Dec 04

Over on the ApartmentAssoc@groups.io email discussion list Mike writes:

Fortunately the facts are not as laid out in the post.  The article makes this clear.   “Property taxes” would not go up 64-128% under the proposals being considered.  The MPS portion of the property tax bill would go up by those percentages, not the whole bill.  The increases are still substantial – I estimate 25-50% of the whole bill.  If we landlords want to be involved in the political process we must arm ourselves with facts to avoid embarrasing ourselves and damaging our cause. 

Mike is correct, the percent of increase is the school portion. The original Journal article, which I based my comments on, stated:

“For a home assessed at $300,000, that would push property tax bills from $2,874 to $4,716 on the low end and $6,723 on the high end — increases of 64% and 134% respectively.”

Milwaukee Journal article as it appeared on 11/19/19

The Journal article has since been rewritten to “school property tax”

This represents an annual tax increase of $921 to $1925 on an average Milwaukee home.

I stand by my original comments of the dire consequences this will cause to our market.

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