These are some of the stories we’ve been following this week.
- Mortgage credit availability is increasing. The latest Mortgage Credit Availability Index (MCAI) from the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) increased to 125.5 in July, its highest level in years.
- It’s a different type of credit check. Facebook has acquired a patent for technology to rate a person’s loan risk by looking at the credit scores of the applicant’s Facebook friends.
- An opinion piece explains how an oil or natural gas pipeline can affect the property values of nearby homes.
A recent RealtyTrac study revealed that property values increase around new Trader Joe’s stores, although it hasn’t been conclusively determined yet whether the stores cause housing to appreciate or are simply located in areas where appreciation is already occurring.
- CBRE has released a report by a Johns Hopkins University professor discussing six reasons REITS might benefit from outsourcing property management to a third party.
- The non-profit group Columbia Riverkeeper filed a federal lawsuit against a heavy equipment company, alleging that it has discharged industrial waste into stormwater that has contaminated the Columbia River.
- Following a 3-million-gallon toxic mine wastewater spill into the Animas River, the attorneys general of Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah are considering a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
- On August 13, the British government announced new fracking guidance that gives local councils 16 weeks to approve or reject fracking planning applications, after which ministers can intervene and make the decision themselves.
- Although Norway was minimally affected by the global recession, the heavily oil-reliant country doesn’t fare so well when oil drops below $50 a barrel.
- New Zealand homeowners have filed a class action lawsuit against James Hardie over a defective cladding product that has caused widespread water damage in homes.
- The divorce rate in New Zealand plummeted to the lowest rate on record last year as couples hold off on finalizing divorces to cope with rapidly rising home prices.