Mark Your Calendar, Get to the National Building Museum

Lots to cover this week! The month of February brings a phenomenal film festival on architecture and design to the National Building Museum. There’s so much to see, you might want to start marking your calendar now! And, you may get sick of hearing of this, but people just can’t stop speculating on Amazon’s HQ2. It turns out DC’s apartment market is pretty well positioned to handle the development. There’s also a new analysis on the impact of self-driving cars on real estate values – spoiler alert, DC is one of the most affected areas! And, lastly, it’s the first week of the month which means we can get an update on the state of the labor market in the US. It has interest rates soaring even higher.

With a long list of films on architecture and design soon to be playing at the National Building Museum, this week we’re going to take a break from design trends. Starting Feb 22, there are films on icons like Frank Gehry, Rem Koolhaas and Charles and Ray Eames. You can get an intimate look inside the world of fashion designer, Dries Van Noten. But, you’ll also find a film about one woman’s mission to build support centers for patients living with and undergoing cancer treatments in the UK. Or, perhaps you would like to learn about an effort by a designer/activist to get high school kids in rural North Carolina involved and rebuilding their community. There’s so much to see. The full schedule is available here. Curbed has compiled an alphabetical list of all of the films and their trailers here.

Rem Koolhaas designed Casa da Musica
Frank Gehry’s Eisenhower Memorial
Dries Van Noten’s Home








If you really want to overload on architecture this month, Harvard’s Graduate School of Design is offering a free online courseĀ entitled “The Architectural Imagination.” This is a self-paced course that begins on February 28.

It has been a little while since we had an update on technology trends. But, this week, Tesla is partnering with Home Depot in order to gain greater traction in its renewable energy business, think solar roofs and Powerwalls. Tesla has agreed to set up shop in 800 Home Depots across the country, with construction of the spaces taking place over the first half of this year. Get yourself over to a Home Depot for a peek!

In other tech news, there’s a new analysis on the impact of autonomous vehicles on home prices in different urban areas. According to 99mph, roughly $1 trillion in property values will be shifted. The analysis concludes that autonomous vehicles will make a longer commute less of a hassle and therefore the premium placed on homes with close proximity to city centers will dissipate. LIkewise, the penalty priced in to homes that are farther away will be reduced. In the DC area, this is estimated to be worth $88 billion. Wow!

Okay, perhaps this section should be renamed “AMAZON NEWS” in the short term. But, anyway, here is the latest speculation on the DC area’s odds of landing HQ2. In a recent analysis, DC was found to be in the top three for areas well-positioned to handle the expected influx of people based on the availability of apartments. Topping the list is Atlanta, followed by Dallas and DC. The analysis focused on current available apartments, combined with a sizeable pipeline of development and rents in line with the Seattle area.

After spending fifteen years in a job tied to the interest rate markets, the first Friday of the month was always a day you wouldn’t want to miss. Why? Well, that’s when the Bureau of Labor Statistics releases its monthly report with all of the latest on employment in the US, “Payroll Friday” as it’s affectionately known. Sometimes it was ho-hum, but sometimes it would send interest rates soaring in either direction. Today was one of those days. The 10-year US Treasury rose to 2.85%; that’s up from 2.46% on Jan 2nd. The move today is because average hourly earnings rose to the highest level since 2009. This sounds pretty good, right? People are earning more money. Well, rising earnings means inflation to the Federal Reserve. And, if it rises faster than expected, that could mean more rate increases by the central bank this year. With rates rising quickly, this has equity investors worried, driving the DOW down over 300 points.

All of this naturally means higher mortgage rates. As of Wednesday, Freddie Mac’s survey already showed the 30-year fixed rate mortgage up to 4.22% vs 4.15% last week. But, rates continued to rise for the remainder of the week and some lenders are now quoting in the 4.375%-4.50% range. In active trading, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is 4.45%.

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