Housing Crunch Despite the state of the housing market, it isn't necessarily any easier for the nation's most vulnerable to afford housing, according to “Out of Reach,” a study from the National Low Income Housing Coalition. The most glaring finding? A full-time worker would have to earn $17.32 an hour to afford a two-bedroom apartment at the average fair market rent of $900 per month. That's far more than the current minimum wage of $5.85 per hour. —L.S.
Fringe Benefits Generally, apartment companies are not known as great places to work, but that perception is changing. Take Fortune magazine's recent naming of Camden Property Trust as one of the “100 Best Companies to Work For” in America. Camden is ranked 50th overall, and is No. 19 in Fortune's small companies subcategory. Fortune credited Camden for its Camden Scholarship Fund for employees' children, adoption benefits, domestic partner benefits, fully furnished apartments available for employee vacations, and apartment discounts for employees and their families. —L.S.
Condo-nundrum Gen Yers appear not be the buyers of hip downtown condos in Austin, Tex. In a study commissioned by Austin property owners, condo buyer demographics ranged broadly. Of buyers in six projects during 2007, 27 percent were under age 30; 35 percent were aged 30 to 44; and 38 percent were aged 45 and older, according to Austin-based Capitol Market Research. The study also found that up to 70 percent of buyers in many marquee communities, such as the W Hotel condos, did not work in Austin. —C.W.
Retro Green The American Society of Interior Designers Foundation and the U.S. Green Building Council have chosen New Orleans as the launch site for the nation's first green residential remodeling guidelines. The REGREEN Guidelines can be applied to a variety of single-family and multifamily projects, from remodeling a kitchen to full-scale renovations. —L.S.
Pure Energy The Energy Star Web site now connects bulk buyers and sellers of Energy Star-certified products. Developed by the U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Star Quantity Quotes allow multifamily property owners to submit purchase requests, receive quotes, contact other buyers and sellers, and negotiate discounts. “It's a good way to find suppliers that have the products you're looking for,” says Floris Keverling Buisman, a buyer for New York City-based affordable housing developer Common Ground. As of March 2008, the site (www.energystar.gov/quantityquotes) listed 121 suppliers of Energy Star products looking for business. — C.W.
Bad Apples In March, the Sacramento, Calif., City Council approved a citywide inspection program for apartment buildings more than five years old. Intended to weed out “slumlords,” the program charges a $28-per-unit inspection fee that could cost legitimate operators thousands of dollars. Local rental associations argued unsuccessfully for a $20-per-unit fee. Sample inspection checklists can be found online (www.rha.org/government/local.htm). —C.W.