US home sales tumbled 36 per cent in December

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first_imgWASHINGTON – U.S. home sales slid 3.6 per cent in December, as rising prices and a declining number of available properties stifled purchases.The National Association of Realtors said Wednesday that sales of existing homes fell last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.57 million units. Despite the monthly setback, sales totalled 5.51 million in 2017. That was the highest level since 2006, yet it marked a slight 1.1 per cent gain from 2016 as the months’ supply of properties on the market fell to the lowest level ever recorded by the Realtors.The strengthening U.S. economy helped to lift home sales last year, but homeowners are choosing not to list their properties despite the rising prices and relatively low mortgage rates. The lack of homes for sale speaks to the lingering aftershocks from the 2007 housing crisis. After a wave of mortgage defaults and foreclosures, investors bought many properties and turned them into rentals. Meanwhile, homeowners are choosing to build equity rather than upgrade to another house.David Berson, chief economist at Nationwide Insurance, said sales should increase modestly in 2018, but they’ll be “held back by a lack of inventory.”Just 1.48 million homes were listed for sale at the end of December, a 10.3 per cent drop over the past year. There were just 3.2 months’ supply of homes on the market, the lowest level since the Realtors began tracking the figure in 1999.Home values are climbing faster than wages because of the dearth of available properties. The median home sales price increased 5.8 per cent from a year ago to $246,800 in December, a pace more than double gains in average hourly earnings.Sales in December fell in the Northeast, Midwest, South and West.The shortage of homes for sale appears to be setting up a surge in remodeling.Homeowners are expected to spend nearly $340 billion this year on improvements and repairs, a 7.5 per cent increase from 2017, according to a recent analysis by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University.This would be the steepest increase in renovation activity in more than a decade.Because buyers have limited choices, they’re increasingly willing to pay above the asking price.Roughly 24 per cent of homes last year sold for more than their advertised price, with buyers of those properties on average paying $7,000 above asking, according to the real estate firm Zillow. Those figures have crept upward since 2012.The problem is at its worst in the most expensive markets. Nearly half of homes around San Jose, California — the epicenter of U.S. software companies — sold for above asking with the average premium of $62,000.last_img

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Wolves can be proud of playoffs; road to return has potholes

first_imgSports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next With Butler the resident alpha male in the locker room, the Wolves can no longer be considered an up-and-coming atmosphere where patience with the development of young cornerstones Towns and Andrew Wiggins will be welcomed. With the presence of Butler and the other acquisitions from last year, Taj Gibson, Jeff Teague and Jamal Crawford, there’s clearly a win-now window in place.“They’ve learned what it takes to get yourself to the playoffs,” Butler said. “Now us as a whole, we have to figure out what it takes to win, whenever we get there. No matter what seed we are, that’s what we’re expected to do.”Layden wondered aloud whether the Wolves should have been more aggressive to acquire a new player at the trade deadline in February.“We had a lot of things that went back and forth, and maybe we should’ve done something a little different,” Layden said. “I take responsibility for that, but we’re always looking to push and push and get better.”BUTLER’S HEALTHADVERTISEMENT MOST READ Thibodeau has always leaned heavily on the starters he trusts the most, and this season with the Wolves was no exception. Butler was third in the NBA with an average of 36.7 minutes played per game, and coincidentally or not he missed 23 games, all but two because of trouble with his right knee. Thibodeau said Butler will not need an additional procedure.Butler can also opt out of his contract after next season, without an extension in place.“It’s important for him to feel good about everything that we’re doing here,” Thibodeau said.LONG RANGEThe Wolves actually led the NBA during the playoffs with a 41.3 percent make rate from 3-point range, but part of the problem is a lack of space in the playbook for setting up attempts from beyond the arc. They finished last in the league in the regular season with an average of eight 3-pointers made per game.“I thought our guys in the second half of the season were doing a very good job of looking for opportunities, but we do have to take more,” Thibodeau said.Even owner Glen Taylor, in an interview earlier this month with his hometown newspaper, the Mankato Free Press, openly questioned the lack of improvement.“If other teams can learn to shoot 3s, why can’t we?” Taylor told the Free Press.WINNING WITH WIGGINS?The maximum contract the Wolves gave Wiggins last summer will kick in next season, paying the 23-year-old more than $25 million. There’s no player on the roster who will be under more pressure to be more consistently productive on both ends of the court. Truck driver killed in Davao del Sur road accident Green group flags ‘overkill’ use of plastic banderitas in Manila Sto. Niño feast Impressive season lays groundwork for Pacers future In fight vs corruption, Duterte now points to Ayala, MVP companies as ‘big fish’ ‘Stop romanticizing Pinoy resilience’ Minnesota Timberwolves guard Jimmy Butler, right, watches from the bench during the second half in Game 5 of the team’s first-round NBA basketball playoff series against the Houston Rockets, Wednesday, April 25, 2018, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)MINNEAPOLIS — For the first time since 2004, the Minnesota Timberwolves are entering May without their customary collection of good-luck charms for the NBA draft lottery.The longest-running absence from the playoffs in the league finally over, the Wolves took a significant accomplishment into the summer after their 47-35 record during the regular season tied for the fifth-best in franchise history.ADVERTISEMENT “The experience of the playoffs was huge for him. He did a lot of good things,” Thibodeau said. “I think we saw down the stretch him playing a more complete game, and I think he can build off that.”BJELICANemanja Bjelica, who played both forward spots off the bench and was a relatively productive starter during Butler’s absence, will be a restricted free agent. His playing time was scant during the playoff series, which Thibodeau said was matchup-related.“But I thought overall he played really well for us,” Thibodeau said. “Sometimes you have to put the team first.” Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Jo Koy draws ire for cutting through Cebu City traffic with ‘wang-wang’ Scientists seek rare species survivors amid Australia flames P16.5-M worth of aid provided for Taal Volcano eruption victims — NDRRMC Lights inside SMX hall flicker as Duterte rants vs Ayala, Pangilinan anew Volcano watch: Island fissures steaming, lake water receding Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard PLAY LIST 02:14Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard02:56NCRPO pledges to donate P3.5 million to victims of Taal eruption00:56Heavy rain brings some relief in Australia02:37Calm moments allow Taal folks some respite03:23Negosyo sa Tagaytay City, bagsak sa pag-aalboroto ng Bulkang Taal01:13Christian Standhardinger wins PBA Best Player award “When you haven’t done something for 14 years, it’s a major step for our organization, and it’s not easy to do. Winning in this league is very difficult, and we should understand that,” said president of basketball operations and head coach Tom Thibodeau, who joined general manager Scott Layden on Monday for a wrapup news conference.Jimmy Butler and Karl-Anthony Towns gave the Timberwolves multiple representatives at the All-Star game for the first time since Kevin Garnett and Sam Cassell in 2004 on their way to the Western Conference finals. That was the most recent postseason appearance until the first round series with Houston tipped off earlier this month. With 16 out of 41 home games declared sellouts, they had their highest number since 1991-92, and local television ratings were way up, too.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSGinebra beats Meralco again to capture PBA Governors’ Cup titleSPORTSAfter winning title, time for LA Tenorio to give back to Batangas folkSPORTSTim Cone, Ginebra set their sights on elusive All-Filipino crownStill, in typical Timberwolves fashion, the road to relevancy was not without potholes.Falling in five games to the Rockets was forgivable, considering their opponent had the NBA’s best record, but the Wolves were beaten a total of eight times by the league’s bottom eight teams that all won fewer than 29 games. Win just two of those, and they’re in third place in the West with a much more favorable matchup for the playoffs. LATEST STORIES View commentslast_img

Rains stall Kings

first_imgIn fight vs corruption, Duterte now points to Ayala, MVP companies as ‘big fish’ Lacson: Calamity fund cut; where did P4 billion go? MOST READ Heavy rains and flooding caused by Tropical Storm “Henry” forced the Philippine Basketball Association to call off Game 2 of the Barangay Ginebra-Rain or Shine Commissioner’s Cup semifinal series Tuesday, which, for sure, Gin Kings coach Tim Cone wouldn’t like.Cone had talked the past weeks that he would like his wards to play as often as they could just to keep riding the momentum they have gotten going since the elimination round.ADVERTISEMENT With an eight-game winning streak and coming off a lopsided victory in the series opener, the Kings were installed as solid picks to take a 2-0 lead and keep the Elasto Painters guessing since the second game was to be played after just a day’s rest.Instead, Rain or Shine coach Caloy Garcia will have an extra two more nights to figure things out and try to whip his Painters back to the form that made them the No. 1 team in the elimination round.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSGinebra beats Meralco again to capture PBA Governors’ Cup titleSPORTSAfter winning title, time for LA Tenorio to give back to Batangas folkSPORTSTim Cone still willing to coach Gilas but admits decision won’t be ‘simple yes or no’Meanwhile, defending champion San Miguel Beer goes for a sweep of an overmatched Alaska side Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Smart Araneta Coliseum in Cubao. A win—coupled with the cancellation of the other Final Four’s Game 2—will give the Beermen several days to freshen up for the title series.Coach Leo Austria said on Monday night that they are not even thinking of the best-of-seven title series at this time and that they will take things as they come, even if this series drags on to a Game 5. Trump assembles a made-for-TV impeachment defense team LATEST STORIES Putin’s, Xi’s ruler-for-life moves pose challenges to West Lights inside SMX hall flicker as Duterte rants vs Ayala, Pangilinan anew What a marvelous mismatch! SEA Games 2019: Philippines clinches historic gold in women’s basketball PLAY LIST 05:02SEA Games 2019: Philippines clinches historic gold in women’s basketball02:43Philippines make clean sweep in Men’s and Women’s 3×3 Basketball06:27SEA Games 2019: No surprises as Gilas Pilipinas cruises to basketball gold02:14Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard02:56NCRPO pledges to donate P3.5 million to victims of Taal eruption00:56Heavy rain brings some relief in Australia02:37Calm moments allow Taal folks some respite03:23Negosyo sa Tagaytay City, bagsak sa pag-aalboroto ng Bulkang Taal01:13Christian Standhardinger wins PBA Best Player award Palace OKs total deployment ban on Kuwait OFWs ‘High crimes and misdemeanors’: Trump impeachment trial begins But the way the Beermen have beaten the Aces in the first two games has certainly dented the psyche of Alaska, which led comfortably until the middle of the third period of Game 2 before San Miguel pulled out another authoritative win.Austria had already paid tribute to his counterparts at the Alaska bench, giving everyone the impression that the Beermen are going in for the kill and making the Aces sorry footnotes of another triumphant campaign.“You can see, everyone is saying that we are a super team and yet they (Aces) keep fighting back. So I just have to admire the work that they do,” Austria said. “Maybe because of the superior talent that we have, that’s what’s prevailing.”The last time Alaska and San Miguel were in a series was in the 2016 Philippine Cup title playoffs, one that will live in infamy as far as the Aces are concerned after they bungled a 3-0 lead to lose in Game 7.ADVERTISEMENT Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Report: Disney dropping the ‘Fox’ from movie studio names Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Volcano watch: Island fissures steaming, lake water receding View commentslast_img

Integrity: A Lost Value that Liberia Needs

first_imgThe English dictionary defines integrity as “moral soundness.” Being morally sound means or says a lot of things about a person. Such a person is conscious of his/her daily activities, ensuring that he/she avoids anything that would bring about character assassination. Controlling your ego not to dishonestly take what belongs to others; avoiding actions that will hurt others; speaking the truth; being faithful to duty; and impartially rendering justice are all values associated with integrity.A man or a woman with these attributes needs no maneuvering, whether political or social, to gain people’s admiration or respect. Beyond admiration and respect, any such person will build trust and be trusted in a family, group and country at large. But where are the people with integrity that can be trusted with public office in Liberia today? This scarce value is what this country needs in its leadership.Why do we say this? It is an open secret that many Liberians describe the country’s resources as “elephant meat,” implying that anyone getting into power can butcher his/her share to maintain that person when his/her term in public office expires. On the basis of this selfish, inhumane and impious (wicked, bad, immoral) philosophy, Liberians enter into government, and in some instances, the private sector, with the mindset of cheating and stealing to satisfy their personal desires. Even at the level of the judiciary, justice is for sale to the extent that only the rich and those from the same cult can get it.The high degree of anxiety exhibited by both young and old, women and men to contest a single seat for the House of Representatives from a district, and the establishment of many political parties centering around financially potent individuals leave no doubt in the minds of many astute observers that people are seeking these public positions to enrich themselves to the detriment of the country.Besides government, there is a high degree of dishonesty in a lot of ordinary Liberians. Without fear of challenge, we can boldly state in this editorial that a lot of Liberians will credit from a bank or an individual, and will fail to pay. Last year the Bankers Association published in the Daily Observer and other local dailies the names of debtors who have failed to settle their obligations with most of the banks. Research shows that many people will use different identity (ID) cards to dupe banks of huge sums of money. Some Liberian construction engineers will think of nothing more than stealing building materials, including cement, when awarded contracts. Such a behavior was demonstrated by engineers of the Ministry of Public Works on the Jallah Town road project, under the stewardship of former Minister Luseni Donzo. When a non-governmental organization is awarded a contract to distribute food and other assorted materials, those same materials will be seen at marketplaces the next day. At both public and private hospitals, nurses and other healthcare workers without conscience/integrity will steal drugs to fill private drugstores and pharmacies, leaving those hospitals empty, and subsequently referring patients to these drugstores.Nowadays in Liberia you will note that people do not choose a profession because of passion, but with the intention of acquiring quick money because that field is considered to be lucrative. It is on the basis of this belief that many Liberian students enter into the Business College, Law School and even the Nursing field. This mindset of entering into a profession, especially in finance, to steal is cited as the alleged reason First International Bank (FIB) was taken over by GN Bank.We reference all these incidents because they are the ills affecting our daily interactions as a people and nation. Now that we are fast approaching elections, there is a need that we thoroughly evaluate the many political candidates that are saying the same thing over and over, to weed out the good ones with a minimum record of integrity.We want to thank the Institute for Research and Democratic Development (IREDD) for initiating and launching the “2017 Integrity Platform” to track political candidates that are coming into the races. It is our ardent hope that this project will liaise with media institutions to bring the candidates/politicians closer to the electorate to hear and examine their platforms in order to give voters the right information to enable them to make the right choice of leaders for the future of Liberia.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img

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