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Driving Up & Down Home Values: Spotlight on U.S. Homebuilders, California's Central Valley, Fresno, Clovis, Calif. Real Estate
Thursday, 9 March 2006
Formosan Termites and other Pests: News you should know
Topic: Best Rat/Mouse Traps

Quarantine on wood, cellulose material after hurricanes Katrina and Rita The commissioner of agriculture in Louisiana imposed a quarantine for the Formosan subterranean termite on October 3, 2005, in Calcasieu, Cameron, Jefferson, Jefferson Davis, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. John the Baptist, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa and Washington parishes. The Formosan subterranean termite is the most destructive insect in Louisiana. It is found in about half of Louisiana’s parishes. Thus, the prevention of the Formosan subterranean termite’s spread to other parishes and other states is of utmost concern.

There are several materials in which the Formosan subterranean termite could be moved. These include millions of tons of wood debris left by hurricanes Katrina and Rita and thousands of unsound structures. Plans have been made to turn this wood debris into compost. Architectural components from unsound structures, such as beams or doors, and temporary housing are also materials in which Formosan subterranean termite may be moved.

The quarantine has three objectives: to prevent the spread of the Formosan subterranean termite to locations not now infested, to prevent infestations of existing structures that are not now infested and to prevent the infestation of new and reconstructed structures.

There are several prohibitions and requirements of the quarantine.

* First, new construction and reconstruction of structures must be treated for Formosan subterranean termites according to the Louisiana Structural Pest Control Commission’s Rules and Regulations. * Second, movement of wood or cellulose material is prohibited unless either (1) it is fumigated or treated for Formosan subterranean termites and is approved for movement by the commissioner or his designee(s) or (2) written authorization is given by the commissioner or his designee(s) for the movement of untreated wood or cellulose material from the quarantined parishes. * Third, temporary housing cannot be moved from the named parishes until written authorization is given by the commissioner or his designee(s). * Fourth, all architectural components (beams, doors and salvaged wood) cannot be sold or placed in any structure in any parish until the architectural components are fumigated or treated for Formosan subterranean termites. Commercial logging and timber operations and commercial operations involving the sale or distribution of nursery stock are exempted from the quarantine.

Additionally, it is strongly recommended and urged that all new construction and reconstruction of structures in the quarantined parishes use termite-resistant materials. Termite-resistant materials include pressure-treated wood (borates, ammonical copper quat or copper azole) or non-cellulose materials.

The quarantine is in effect until it is rescinded by the commissioner of agriculture. If a waiver of a requirement or an authorization to carry out one of the prohibited acts is granted, it does not rescind or modify the quarantine.

In addition to their devastation, Katrina and Rita provided a special opportunity to spread the Formosan subterranean termite. They also provided a unique opportunity to prevent its spread by following the quarantine and to reduce its severity by using termite-resistant materials. Thus, it is extremely important that these requirements be adopted and practiced.

Posted by Fashionista Shopping Analyst at 10:35 AM EST
Real Estate Boom's Lowdowns
Topic: Property Values Up

Rise in Home Values Causes Headache to Homeowners: Rising Home Values = High Property Taxes

The Lowdown on the Real Estate Boom: Even the well-oiled homeowners are crying foul

Residents of very popular towns and cities have been suffering secretly for a long time now. They have seen a wrong that needs redress. They have seen their working-class neighbors get up, pack up and leave town. The reason is that these modest wage earners can not keep up with the rising assessments in property taxes they have to pay. For this group of homeowners, the American dream of owning a home can only be realized in another town or a completely different state. Around or after Christmas, the bills start arriving.

If you own a hot house, cabin or property in a hot real estate zone, then you may be hit by high property taxes. Such is the reality that many new homeowners have to face after all the buying euphoria dies down. The bills will come from the assessor's office. "What are you going to do?" asked a colleague. "If you don't pay up, you will run into trouble." From Lake Tahoe to the California-Nevada areas, coastal towns and to lakefront properties, the rise in home values over the years has only caused some headache for many people. In 1978, California's Prop. 13 did something about this property tax issue. Many other states have just be plagued with this problem. California's voters, through their initiative, placed a cap at 2 % until a property is sold. Local and state governments depend on the property taxes as their main revenue. They need the funds for schools and other local agencies programs.

Some groups of homeowners are doing something about this. Through citizen initiatives and lawsuits, they want to have a say in how their property tax is being spent. Groups such as the "Ax the View Tax" are leading movements against the taxing of people on intangible values and qualities such as a view or a specific location. Idaho lawmakers have eight bills before them on property taxes. One of the bills will revise the "homestead exemption" which is at $50,000 of a home's value off the tax bracket. The bill will boost it to $1,00,000. South Carolina caps the rise in property assessments at 3 percent until a home is sold. Greorgia's lawmakers support a 3 percent cap too. Nevadans are gathering signatures for their own initiative. Connecticut homeowners have been hit hard for their frontlake property views. They are doing something to correct the situation.

It is clear that something is not right. Homeowners are saying enough is enough.

HomeBoom Independent Data Systems

Posted by Fashionista Shopping Analyst at 2:24 AM EST
Updated: Thursday, 9 March 2006 9:37 AM EST
Wednesday, 8 March 2006
Homeowners, Be Warned: Cheap Mulch May Have New Orleans Termites That Attack Home Foundations
Topic: Consumers ComplaintBox

An excerpt from the LSU Ag Center: Homeowners, please attention to this warning. Buying cheap mulch may bring pests and termites to your home environments. We received various messages about this issue.

"A scourge of New Orleans and South Louisiana could find its way to other parts of the state and country if people move wood that’s infested with Formosan subterranean termites.

Experts know the termite was introduced into Ouachita Parish by being transported in infested railroad ties used for landscaping, and they suspect the pest has been introduced into countless homes through re-used architectural wood.

Because of the destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita in across South Louisiana, LSU AgCenter entomologists are warning homeowners not to remove building materials from damaged homes and install them in new structures unless they are absolutely sure no termites are in them.

The best way to gain this assurance is through fumigation or heat treating, according to Dr. Dennis Ring, an entomologist with the LSU AgCenter.

To try to prevent moving termites to other areas, the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry on Oct. 3 imposed a quarantine for the Formosan subterranean termite in Calcasieu, Cameron, Jefferson, Jefferson Davis, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. John the Baptist, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa and Washington parishes.

Ring said the quarantine has three objectives – to prevent spreading the Formosan subterranean termite to locations not currently infested, to prevent infesting existing structures that are not currently infested and to prevent infesting new and reconstructed structures.

"The Formosan subterranean termite may be spread in any infested cellulose – wood, paper or other products," Ring said. He listed railroad ties, utility poles, used structural wood, lumber, pallets, landscape timbers and similar items.

The entomologist pointed out the quarantine specifies that all architectural components – including beams, doors and salvaged wood – cannot be sold or placed in any structure in any parish until they are fumigated or treated for Formosan subterranean termites.

"Do not move cellulose from infested areas unless you are sure the material is not infested," Ring emphasized. "Everyone has a responsibility to prevent the spread of the termite."

Experts also warn about re-using wood from damaged buildings – unless you can be absolutely sure the wood is termite free.

"To determine if material is infested, make a thorough inspection, looking for termites, damaged wood, soil, mud tubes and carton nests," Ring said.

Ring said because Formosan subterranean termites build above-ground nests, wood from buildings, trees and shrubs that have been standing in floodwaters may still be infested.

In addition, lumber and other woody debris taken from damaged buildings can become termite-infested if left on the ground too long.

The entomologist said burying wood is not a good idea because that would supply food for termites, which will then seek new food sources when the buried wood is gone.

Here is the e-mail message received from a reader of this site:

"Louisiana agricultural dept. Shortcut to:

If you use mulch around your house, be very careful about buying mulch this year. After the Hurricane in New Orleans many trees were blown over. These trees were then turned into mulch and the state is trying to get rid of tons and tons of this mulch to any state or company who will come and haul it away. So it will be showing up in Home Depot and Lowes at dirt cheap prices with one huge problem: Formosan Termites will be the bonus in many of those bags. New Orleans is one of the few areas in the country where the Formosan Termites has gotten a strong hold and most of the trees blown down were already badly infested with those termites. Now we may have the worst case of transporting a problem to all parts of the country that we have ever had. These termites can eat a house in no time at all and we have no good control against them, so tell your friends that own homes to avoid cheap mulch and know where it came from."

Editing was also provided.

Posted by Fashionista Shopping Analyst at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Thursday, 9 March 2006 10:32 AM EST
Saturday, 4 March 2006
Property Values Are Going Up. So Are Insurance Costs
Topic: Property Values Up

As town-owned buildings are going up in values, the city's coffers tend to suffer. That is what a lot of major metropolitan areas with hot real estate valuations are realizing. In one word, it is fair to admit that skyrocketing property values are driving up the cost of insuring some town-owned buildings such as schools and other public buildings. Here is a good example: Property values in Congress Heights, an older community in Southeast Washington, have increased 41 percent, nearly double the city's average, an indication that the skyrocketing housing boom has crossed the Anacostia River. The demand for affordable housing will continue to rise. A lot of people are going to be kept out of the affordability index. Even farmers will notice higher property tax values on their farmland. In many places in the country, agriculture land is assessed at its use value, rather than its market value. That means assessors factor in the land's potential for productivity when they figure taxable values.

People living in high-risk areas have to pay for more coverage. Homeowners find themselves paying increasingly higher insurance rates as more people flock to the coasts and insurers try to cut back on the billions of dollars of losses they've absorbed from previous storms. Many residents in high-risk areas have to buy separate hurricane or windstorm insurance on top of their regular homeowners' policies. Florida's homeowners insurance rates have increased more than 150% since the 165-mph Andrew, which caused $31 billion damage and stands as the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history. For many, additional costs become a burden. For those living on the coast and in Florida, itt's not the storm threat itself that's pushing them out, it's the soaring costs of insurance — $1,000 a year for homeowners, and an additional $2,100 for windstorm coverage, a bill that has tripled in the last five years.

Posted by Fashionista Shopping Analyst at 3:13 AM EST
Updated: Thursday, 9 March 2006 2:29 AM EST
Thursday, 2 March 2006
Parents & Residents Protest Rockery, Concrete, Cement Company
Topic: Homeowners' ComplaintBox

Parents and students living near Adams Elementary school are protesting the relocation of a new rockery which may bring more pollution and traffic to the area. Parents are complaining that their kids may not be able to play outside in a safe manner any longer. They are planning on protesting every Friday near the new business. The owner of the rockery said that he has obtained all the authorizations and complied with all the codes. Parents fear that their kids will have problems with asthma.

This is interesting news. People are paying more and more attention to their environment. Councilmember Sterling has some new issues to deal with now. It's been reported that she interevened but had no success. The protesters want some actions in their favor.

Posted by Fashionista Shopping Analyst at 9:40 AM EST
Updated: Thursday, 2 March 2006 9:43 AM EST

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