What’s in a County Name? By: Frank Friday Esquire Director Besides Lincoln and Clay, several other famous Kentuckians have numerous counties named for them, including the Clark brothers with 12; Richard Johnson with 12 also; Isaac Shelby with 9; Daniel Boone with 8; and Zachary Taylor with 7. The list of the most popular county names won’t change much in the future. New counties, created either through mergers or split-offs, haven’t happened much in the last 150 years. Kentucky, for example, created 10 new counties after the Civil War, but only one in the last century- McCreary in 1912, named for a popular Kentucky governor of the time. So, the more things change, at least with American counties, the more they will stay the same, and the founding generation will continue to be remembered. continued from page 1 2 Home Owning’s New Trends By: Frank Friday Esquire Director A big part of the American Dream has always meant owning your own home, ideally with a nice plot of land. From the days of Daniel Boone, our country has stood for the idea of “elbow room” as opposed to the crowded cities of Europe. That’s also played a role in defining the American character, more relaxed and individualistic. On the other hand, in places where everybody is jammed on top of each other, like Japan, people tend to develop an elaborate etiquette and social order to deal with all the crowds. Thanks to changing demographics, though, Americans are trending a bit more Japanese- major urban areas continue to grow as rural towns shrink away, and there is less close-in land for tract suburb development. Home ownership peaked in 2005 at over 69% with the housing bubble in the US, but the recession that followed has cut it to below 63%. We hit a high point of home construction way back in 1973 with 2.1 million units being built, but only half of them single family. Today, only about half that number is reached in a good year. The most single-family units built were in 2006 with 1.65 million, but that declined to less than a million for each year since, an average of about 700,000 per annum. With fewer homes, and less home lending, you have a tighter market, higher prices, and more people having to rent. This is particularly true where environmental rules severely constrain the supply. In the hot neighborhoods of Silicon Valley near San Francisco, you even have the phenomenon of the “million-dollar shack”. In one example two years ago, a literal shack of 180 sq. ft. in Palo Alto went for $2 million. In Louisville, we have not quite experienced that level of boom, but we did see the bust. Half the area homebuilders, about 200, folded in the previous decade, and the remainder only do about 41% of the home starts they did in 2005. There is, of course, plenty of development-ready land thanks to the new bridges, but few new homes priced under $250,000 are being built. This is not all bad. As people live longer, they have different housing needs throughout their lives, and an owned, single-family home may not meet everyone’s needs. A good mix between rental and owned property is also indicative in most cases of a strong economy. Interestingly enough, countries with really high home ownership rates, such as Romania at 90%, got that way because in a weak economy, homes stay in families for generations, and there aren’t many buyers. So, if you thought you had a hard time selling your last home, try moving one in downtown Bucharest.