ARM Wrestling Once a financing option tapped largely by the wealthy, ARMs are now more likely to go to people in the lowest income categories—i.e., those who are least able to afford the investment risk—according to a new study by the University of Missouri-Columbia. In 1992, 40 percent of the borrowers choosing ARMs were in the wealthiest class, while 25 percent had below average income. In 2001, however, the two groups nearly switched positions, with 26 percent of ARM recipients falling in the wealthiest income brackets, while 42 percent were considered low income.—J. Sullivan

Rental Rebirth As the real estate market cools, a huge number of new condos could be converted to rental properties over the next 18 months. In Las Vegas, Phoenix, San Diego, Washington, and much of Florida, an estimated 25 percent to 40 percent of condos under development or apartments that were converted into condos for sale will be put back on the market as rentals, says Marcus & Millichap, an investment brokerage firm.—N.F. Maynard


I Do (Want a House) A new survey from KB Home reports that given the option, American adults would rather have a house than a fancy wedding. In a telephone survey, 92 percent of 1,000 adults said that if they were about to get married and were also in the market for a new home, they'd rather put the money toward a house than a dream wedding. A 2005 study of bridal spending by the Fairchild Bridal Group reported that the average cost of a wedding was more than $26,000.—P. Curry

Trust Worthy The city of Milwaukee should put up $5 million next year to start a housing trust fund to help provide much-needed low-income housing, according to a task force assigned to research the issue. The 13-member task force, formed earlier this year, was appointed by the mayor and common (city) council. At press time, the city had not signed off on funding such an effort. Mayor Tom Barrett was quoted in the press as wanting to see more of a commitment from the private sector.—S. Zurier


Gulf Coast Blitz Habitat for Humanity founders Millard and Linda Fuller will host a 10-house blitz build in Shreveport, La., from Sept. 17 to 23. The Fullers, who were fired from the organization in 2005, promptly started The Fuller Center for Housing to support better housing. The build is being done in partnership with Shreveport-Bossier Community Renewal to provide permanent homes for Gulf Coast hurricane evacuees. The Fuller Center has committed to build 60 houses in total.—P.C.

Scholarly Appraisal School performance has long been a factor in home buyers' decisions about where to live. But how much of a premium do homes in “good” school districts command? One recent study by researchers at Ohio State University and Louisiana State University found that a 20 percent lead in a school district's proficiency test “pass rate” translated to a 7 percent increase in house values in the same district. Another measure of school quality—how test scores improved between fourth and ninth grades—proved to have less of an impact on overall home values. The study, which examined 77,578 housing transactions in 310 Ohio school districts in 2000, was first published in the Journal of Regional Science.—J.S.

Pricey Parks The cost of constructing public parks has grown as cities and towns respond to residents' desires for walking trails, community facilities, and ball parks. According to Sacramento, Calif., consulting firm Economic and Planning Systems, local governments spend about $500,000 per acre to build a park, double the amount of two years ago. The city of Elk Grove, Calif., has determined that a proposed development needs to set aside 9.9 acres of land per 1,000 residents—nearly double the amount of land most of California's cities require—and has proposed a parks fee of $15,700 per home. The North State Building Industry Association wants to negotiate with city planners to reduce the fee.—M. Mariani


Learn more about markets featured in this article: Shreveport, LA.