Colin Robins is the online editor for DSNews.com. He holds a Bachelor of Arts from Texas A&M University and a Master of Arts from the University of Texas, Dallas. Additionally, he contributes to the MReport, DS News’ sister site. Governmental Measures Target Expanded Access to Affordable Housing 2 days ago Sign up for DS News Daily in Daily Dose, Featured, Headlines, Market Studies, News Housing Affordability Housing Payments RealtyTrac 2014-02-20 Colin Robins Previous: Brock & Scott Acquires Georgia Law Firm Next: Wingspan Portfolio Advisors Open to Additional Acquisitions The Best Markets For Residential Property Investors 2 days ago Demand Propels Home Prices Upward 2 days ago Data Provider Black Knight to Acquire Top of Mind 2 days ago Servicers Navigate the Post-Pandemic World 2 days ago RealtyTrac released a housing affordability analysis, noting an average 21 percent increase in monthly house payments from a year ago.325 U.S. counties were included in the analysis that measured “house payments for a median-priced three-bedroom home purchased in the fourth quarter of 2013—including mortgage, insurance, taxes, maintenance, and subtracting the estimated income tax benefit.”The report showed that the average house payments of homes purchased in the fourth quarter of 2013 rose to $865, based on a 30-year fixed rate mortgage with an interest rate of 4.46 percent and a 20 percent down payment.House payments have risen from the fourth quarter average of $714 in 2012, when interest rates were 3.35 percent.Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey reported a 33 percent increase in the average interest rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage, helping to push housing prices higher.The increase in interest rates caused an average 10 percent rise in median prices across the counties measured.”A potent combination of rapidly rising home prices and the often-overlooked but significant uptick in interest rates in the second half of 2013 caused the monthly cost of owning a home using traditional financing to jump substantially in many markets over the last year,” said Daren Blomquist, VP at RealtyTrac.”The monthly cost of owning a home is still less than renting in the majority of markets, but the cost of financed homeownership is becoming dangerously disconnected with still-stagnant median incomes, driven not by shoddy underwriting practices this time around but by investors and other cash buyers who are not tethered to the typical affordability constraints,” Blomquist said.Counties with some of the biggest increases in estimated monthly house payments included Contra Costa and Sacramento counties in California (both up more than 50 percent), Wayne and Oakland counties in Michigan (both up more than 45 percent), and Clark County, Nevada (up 43 percent).Despite rising interest rates and increased activity from investors and cash buyers, buying a home is still cheaper than renting in most counties.The average income needed to qualify for a median-priced home was $41,544 in Q4 of 2013. The average minimum income needed to rent a three-bedroom home at fair market rents for 2014 was $43,892.The report noted “the estimated monthly house payment for a median-priced three bedroom home in the fourth quarter of 2013 was lower than average fair market rent for a three bedroom home—set by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for 2014—in 91 percent of the counties analyzed (296 out of 325).”The 29 counties where it’s cheaper to rent, however, are heavily populated metros. They account for 20 percent of the population of measured counties.Areas include the California counties of Los Angeles, Orange, Santa Clara, Alameda, Ventura and San Francisco, along with King County, Washington (Seattle), Suffolk County and Westchester counties in the New York City region, Will County in the Chicago metro area, and Denver County, Colorado.The 15 most populated counties house payments increased an average of 34 percent from a year ago, making house payments higher than renting in 6 of the 15 largest counties.”A year ago only one of those 15 counties—Santa Clara County in the San Jose area of Northern California—had an estimated monthly house payment above the average fair market rent,” the report said. Print This Post Servicers Navigate the Post-Pandemic World 2 days ago House Payments Rise; Should Homebuyers Consider Renting? Tagged with: Housing Affordability Housing Payments RealtyTrac Data Provider Black Knight to Acquire Top of Mind 2 days ago Demand Propels Home Prices Upward 2 days ago Governmental Measures Target Expanded Access to Affordable Housing 2 days ago Share Save Subscribe February 20, 2014 698 Views The Best Markets For Residential Property Investors 2 days ago About Author: Colin Robins Home / Daily Dose / House Payments Rise; Should Homebuyers Consider Renting? Related Articles The Week Ahead: Nearing the Forbearance Exit 2 days ago
Winter may be a relatively quiet season for many farmers in the Georgia Piedmont, but not for Carl Jordan. Jordan, the founder of Spring Valley EcoFarms, is busy preparing for his summer-long course on organic agriculture at the University of Georgia.Located in Athens, Ga., Spring Valley EcoFarms is a 100-acre farm that includes experimental plots, an old-growth hickory stand, organic farms, pastures, ponds, newly planted fruit groves, greenhouses and animals.Course covers wide array of organic ag topicsIn addition to farming, Jordan is a senior research scientist emeritus at the UGA Odum School of Ecology. Open to all UGA students, the course combines May session and through session classes to create an intense, hands-on learning experience. Students learn about ecological agriculture, the ethics of sustainability, ecology and organic agriculture principles, the seven-credit course can be used as an internship for the UGA Organic Agriculture Certificate Program. The certificate program is coordinated through the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.Jordan, who retired in 2009, said the idea for the class came from his own undergraduate days, when he attended a summer forestry camp. On-farm experience, too“It was a great experience, and I wanted to recreate something similar here,” he said. “The students are at the farm three days a week from 8 a.m. to noon for 11 weeks. It’s not quite the same as living in cabins in the woods for the entire summer, but it’s something they couldn’t get in a regular semester.”The summer-long course allows students to experience an entire growing season: planting seeds, tending crops and harvesting the produce at the end of the course. “Eleven weeks is enough time to grow crops like squash, corn, peppers, cucumbers and tomatoes,” Jordan said. “At the end of the session, the peppers and tomatoes have only started to ripen. Last summer, a lot of the students kept coming out to the farm even after the course was officially over. Ideally, we would start in March and go through November, but that doesn’t quite fit with UGA’s academic calendar.”Along with gaining hands-on experience, students in the course learn about the theory and practice of organic agriculture in the Southeast, ranging from history, economics and ethics to soil ecology and nutrient cycling. A complete systemFor Jordan, ensuring that students gain an understanding of the organic farm as a complete system is paramount. “Spring Valley is unique,” he said. “We’re promoting the concept of integrated agriculture—animals, vegetables, fruits, forestry—it’s a whole system. As Eugene Odum used to say, ‘the ecosystem is greater than the sum of its parts.’ We always try to keep the big picture in mind.”Jordan encourages students from any discipline to enroll in his course. “Some students want to go into organic farming, some want to have a garden and some just want to be aware of the issues,” he said. “Those are all good reasons to take the class.”More details about the course can be found on the Spring Valley EcoFarms website at www.springvalleyecofarms.org.
On Sunday, Colin Kaepernick will make his second start of the season when the San Francisco 49ers play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. When the national anthem plays before the game, he will likely take a knee. The cameras will flash, social media will explode and criticism will keep flowing.Photo from WikicommonsPeaceful protest · San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has come under fire for refusing to stand during the national anthem.Indeed, the saga surrounding one of the most divisive figures in sports history will live another week. And boy, has this — a high-profile professional athlete protesting racial injustice and police brutality by refusing to respect his nation’s flag — ever divided us.Everyone has a take on this. President Barack Obama defended it. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg called it “dumb and disrespectful.” Athletes and coaches across all sports have been quoted on it.People turned in death threats, burned his jersey and called him a traitor and names far worse. ESPN talking head Trent Dilfer had the hilarious opinion that Kaepernick should “be quiet” because he was a backup. Last Sunday, when Kaepernick made his first start of the season in Buffalo, Bills’ fans sold shirts with a picture of a rifle scope aimed at the quarterback. Critics labeled him a spoiled attention grabber, claiming a man who makes millions playing football has no right to disrespect the flag while soldiers are dying overseas for his freedom.To me, these people are missing the point. For one, I don’t believe Kaepernick is doing this to seek attention. Those who have followed him since his rookie season know that he hated dealing with the media, oftentimes brushing aside questions during press conferences. This was back in 2013, when he led the 49ers to the Super Bowl appearance and was considered an up-and-coming-star. Now, he’s a has-been who couldn’t even beat out Blaine Gabbert for the starting job when he started his protest. Why would Kaepernick risk his reputation and the rest of his career just to make a political statement?More importantly, those who continue to condemn Kaepernick are more focused on the nature of his protest rather than the protest itself. I would argue the broader message is always more important than how it is being delivered (assuming it is non-violent). However, while everybody is for better race relations and less police brutality, for some, seeing someone overtly disregard the flag is an automatic turn-off.It shouldn’t be. Kaepernick has repeatedly stated he is not trying to offend the country, the military or the flag. He is using his platform as an athlete to advocate for an issue he cares about deeply. If you or I sat during the national anthem before a game, nobody would care. But because Kaepernick has a following and is a pro athlete, he knows his actions will ignite a discussion, and he’s done it.In the weeks that have passed since he started his protest, he’s gotten people talking about race, about what our flag represents and about the requirements of patriotism. Before his protest, I never thought about why the national anthem is played before virtually every sporting event across America. I just went along with it, assuming it was a tradition. But it’s a fair — if controversial — question to ask: Are we obligated to display unconditional love for this country just because we paid for a ticket to watch a game? If so, then why isn’t the anthem played before, say, we watch a movie or go to a concert? How is a football game connected to one’s feelings toward America?These are obviously contentious points, and it’s understandable for some who have a deep connection to the flag or are in the military to disagree. I know members of the ROTC on campus who are steadfast in their opposition to Kaepernick, and they say their peers almost unanimously feel the same way. I don’t blame them. They feel like Kaepernick is a traitor. They feel like he’s stepping on the flag, wiping his shoes all over it and spitting on the soldiers who fight every day for his freedom. They feel like he’s un-American.But I’d argue that what he’s doing makes America great. He is vindicating — not disrespecting — the soldiers who fought for his freedom because the alternative would be the very opposite of what America stands for: him being silenced, unable to speak out at all as a dissident.Kaepernick said as much after last week’s game in Buffalo, where he was loudly booed by fans who loudly chanted “USA” before he took a knee.“I don’t understand what’s more American than fighting for liberty and justice for everybody, for the equality this country says it stands for,” he said. “To me, I see it as very patriotic and American to uphold the United States to the standards it says it lives by.”Racial injustice and police brutality are very real problems in this country, and it’s not going to be solved by people screaming and yelling that someone decided to exercise his First Amendment rights. Those who call Kaepernick a traitor without even considering what drove him to make such a dramatic protest are ignoring the bigger issue for which he is fighting. If there’s one thing we’ve learned by what Kaepernick has done — which has dragged on nearly two months — it’s that the longer it lasts, the more truth serum is injected into America regarding how uncomfortable our society still is about discussing race.However, to end on a positive, we’ve also learned the power of a simple action to spark a much bigger action. It’s refreshing to see so many athletes stand with him and even join in protest, from fellow NFL players to U.S. women’s national soccer team star Megan Rapinoe. The hashtag #VeteransForKaepernick was a nice example that social media does indeed have a humanistic side to it. But most importantly — regardless of how you feel about the method of protest — the fact that we are still talking about Kaepernick means that what he did worked.Colin Kaepernick may not end racism, but us holding hands, singing “Kumbayah” and pretending everything is fine won’t do anything either. We cannot solve societal issues unless we confront them head on and find solutions, no matter how awkward it may be. Kaepernick has forced the issue and sparked an important dialogue — and all it took was a knee.Eric He is a sophomore majoring in print and digital journalism. He is also the sports editor of the Daily Trojan. His column, “Grinding Gears,” runs Fridays.
Saints are giving former Vikings’ RB Latavius Murray a four-year, $14.4 million deal, per source.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 12, 2019Murray spent three seasons with the Raiders before joining Minnesota for two years. He rushed for 578 yards and six touchdowns on 140 carries for the Vikings in 2018-19. His rushing and carry totals from last season were his lowest marks since his rookie year with the Raiders in 2014.Murray will join Pro Bowl running back Alvin Kamara and could be a candidate to replace Mark Ingram, who became an unrestricted free agent this offseason. Related News New Orleans dominated offensively all of last season, but fell short to the Rams in the NFC Championship game. The team appears to be gearing up in preparation for another deep postseason run. The Saints are preparing to make an addition to their backfield.New Orleans is expected to sign former Vikings running back Latavius Murray to a four-year, $14.4 million deal, according to ESPN. NFL free agency rumors: Teddy Bridgewater to re-sign with Saints