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TAB News Briefs
Oct. 21, 2008
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The Texas Association of Builders has recently partnered with MultiBriefs to create the new TAB News Briefs. Delivered each Tuesday and Thursday to TAB members, TAB News Briefs will keep subscribers informed of topics that impact the residential construction industry.

Best and Worst Bang for the Buck Cities
from Forbes via Yahoo Finance
“Texas, as a whole, is one of the few economies that's performing extremely well because of the energy and technology sectors," says Andrew Gledhill, an economist at Moody's Plus, he added, military bases in San Antonio have continued to draw a steady steam of personnel and federal employees to the city, spurring widespread job growth. More


Developer Looking for New Opportunity at Every Turn
from The San Antonio Business Journal
Having sold out his recent housing community in less than six months, local developer Harry Hausman is now moving on to his next residential adventure. Last month, Hausman, who is the principal of HLH Development LP, began infrastructure work on Laura Heights. The single-family community will span some 72 acres along Galm Road on the city's Northwest Side and will consist of 450 lots. More

FEMA Disaster Recovery Centers Open in Beaumont, Jasper
from Trading Markets
FEMA Disaster Recovery Centers will open at former Postal Encoding Center, 750 Pearl St., in Beaumont and the Event Center in Jasper. In Beaumont, the DRC will be open 1 to 6 p.m. today, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, according to a news re-lease from FEMA. It will be closed Sundays. At the centers, residents can receive information about different types of state and federal disaster assistance and get help completing low-interest loan applications from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) for homeowners, renters or business owners. More

Home Prices: Now for the Good News
from Yahoo Finance
When the headlines about the housing market are apocalyptic, the last thing a homeowner wants to do is sell. But a funny thing happened to Jeff and Jennifer Boyd when they put their three-bedroom house in Philadelphia's Graduate Hospital district on the market this summer: They turned a profit. Just 45 days after the listing went up, a buyer snapped up the property for $555,000, $29,000 more than the Boyds paid in 2006. "We were pretty hesitant, knowing what the market is like," says Jeff. "But a few weeks later, it was gone." More

Patience Urged with Ike Claims
from The Houston Chronicle
Blue tarps are still on roofs. Fences are still down. Carpet and gypsum wallboard haven't been replaced. All remain familiar sights and stories in the Houston area more than a month after Hurricane Ike made landfall. Naturally, no one really expects everything to be back to normal so soon. Still, consumers are eager to be made whole. Jerry Hagins, spokesman with the Texas Department of Insurance, said the industry is responding with unprecedented resources, but the state still is getting complaints that adjusters are not coming in a timely manner. With the magnitude of the damages, he said, delays are unavoidable. "We are urging patience," he said, "but we are also urging people to call us if they are feeling like it's taking longer than it should be." More

Confidence Falls Along with Home Construction
from Forbes
As Washington works to shore up Wall Street and the U.S. faces its biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression, home construction and consumer confidence have hit new lows. The University of Michigan/Reuters index, which has been measuring consumer confidence since 1952, said Friday that the index fell to 57.5 in October compared with a reading of 70.3 in late September. This was the largest monthly decline in the history of the survey. More

Way to Go, Wells Fargo
from Forbes
The Wells Fargo was not immune to the ailing housing market or turmoil in the U.S. economy in the third quarter, but given the stiff charges and write-downs it took, the bank’s earnings were superb. “Once again, Wells Fargo easily earned more than its dividend of 34 cents per quarter--a rare feat these days,” said Morningstar analyst Jaime Peters. “The company continues to buck the trend, increasing its loan base by 3% from the second quarter in a time when the loan market is nearly frozen. Writing loans in this type of market with Wells' underwriting discipline is likely to turn out to be very profitable for shareholders in the long run.” More

Acme Brick Closes Original Brick Plant in Parker County
from The Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Acme Brick Co. has ceased operations at one of its two Parker County facilities, the company’s original plant. Acme Brick has laid off 20 of the plant’s 35 workers and will reassign others because of a slowdown in residential construction, said Ed Watson, senior vice president of production. "We actually saw this coming in 2006," Watson said. "We started closing plants early in 2007." Closing the company’s original plant wasn’t easy. Acme has produced bricks at the site in southwest Parker County since 1891. More

Cisneros Helped Build Flawed American Dream
from The Austin Statesman
A grandson of Mexican immigrants and San Antonio's first Hispanic mayor of the 20th century, Henry Cisneros has spent years trying to make the dream of homeownership come true for low-income families. As the Clinton administration's top housing official in the mid-1990s, the Texan loosened mortgage limits so first-time buyers could qualify for loans they couldn't get before. Then, capitalizing on a housing expansion he helped unleash, he joined the boards of a major builder, KB Home, and the largest mortgage lender in the nation, Countrywide Financial — two companies that rode the housing boom, drawing criticism along the way for abusive business practices. And Cisneros became a developer himself. A San Antonio development called Lago Vista once stood as a testament to his life's work. More

Builders Say ‘Less is More’ with New Homes
from The Bryan-College Station Eagle
When the U.S. housing market hit the skids, homebuilders like KB Home that thrived by offering large homes and expensive amenities began to rethink their home designs with an eye toward making smaller, less costly homes. Three years into the downturn, that trend appears to be intensifying, as more builders scramble to make their wares affordable to first-time buyers and compete with preowned homes and discounted foreclosed homes on the market. Los Angeles-based KB, which builds homes to order, began downsizing some of its floor plans last year. "That worked for a time, but the market continued to move away from us," said Chief Executive Jeffrey Mezger. The trend in smaller homes is a reversal of more than two decades of expanding floorplans, during which median size single-family went from less than 1,600 square feet to more than 2,200 square feet. These homes packed with amenities helped drive up prices even more. More

For Both Parties, Much is Riding on District 97 Race
from The Fort Worth Star-Telegram
For state Rep. Dan Barrett and Mark Shelton, it’s the campaign that never ends.Ever since veteran Republican state Rep. Anna Mowery resigned last year, the two men have been stumping for votes in a campaign that could help decide which party controls the Texas House when it reconvenes in January. "I’ve been running nonstop," said Barrett, who won the special election in December to replace Mowery. After 10 months in office, the Fort Worth attorney is seeking a full two-year term. "It’s been a long time, and it’s been grueling," he said. Barrett, a Democrat, edged out Republican Shelton in the special-election runoff with 52 percent of the vote, even though many still feel it is a GOP-leaning district. At the time, even state Democratic Party leaders said it was a major victory because the district was drawn by the GOP to elect a Republican. Shelton said he’s been working just as hard to get his message out in hopes of regaining the seat for the GOP. He defeated three opponents in the Republican primary. More

Door to a Mortgage Can Be Harder to Open
from The Houston Chronicle
This was the year Michael and Nina Phillips were going to build their dream house. Over the summer they started working on designs with a custom builder who was going to finance the construction of the house and later sell it to the couple. But as the credit crisis intensified, the builder's lender said it wouldn't approve the construction loan with the original terms, leaving the Phillips with a choice: finance it themselves or back out. "We felt it was better for us to kind of sit on the sidelines and not move forward with the project without knowing what was going to happen," said Michael Phillips, a 30-year-old small-business owner. In the end, the couple's dream was deferred, the builder missed out on a sale, and the lender lost business. More

New Home Construction Dips in Abilene, Nationwide
from Abilene Biz
Construction of new homes in Abilene is declining, which is in keeping with the national trend. The Commerce Department reported that nationwide, new home and apartment construction dropped by 6.3 percent last month. That was a much bigger decline than the 1.6 percent decrease that had been expected. According to the city's Web site, September was the slowest month of 2008 for building permits for single-family housing. Nine building permits for single-family housing were issued compared with seventeen in August. More

Fallout From Financial Crisis Hammers Housing
from Real Clear Markets
The nation is on track to build fewer homes this year than at any time since the end of World War II, adding to the woes of an economy that analysts said Friday has almost certainly entered a recession. While the economic outlook darkened even further with bad reports on layoffs and consumer confidence, it was one of the quietest days since the financial meltdown began a month ago. Wall Street's tumultuous week turned out to be its best in five years. More

Fewer Building Permits Indicate Slower Waco Construction
from The Waco Tribune
Ron McCartney’s been building homes locally for 35 years. He’s seen a slump or two in that time, and he’s facing one now. “I’m getting very few calls to even build a home,” said McCartney, who is about to complete construction of a custom house and doesn’t know if he’ll start work on a house of any kind for several months. Nationally, builders know the feeling. Construction of new homes and apartments dropped by 6.3 percent in September as builders slashed production to a level not seen since early 1991, when the country was in a deep recession, the Commerce Department reported on Friday. More

Local Real Estate Experts Trying to Dispel Myths
from KVUE-TV
Impact Austin real estate experts are concerned that potential home buyers are misinformed about the local impact of the credit crunch. They want to dispel myths about the kinds of loans that are available. More

Signs Show Austin Home Prices Cooling
from The Austin Statesman
In September, Central Texas home sales fell for the 15th consecutive month as the Austin area continued to feel the effects of the national real estate slowdown, tighter lending standards and heightened uncertainty about the economy. But the median price of $182,600 was unchanged from last September, ending an almost four-year streak of increases, the Austin Board of Realtors said. More

Another Stimulus Check on the Way?
from WFFA-TV
What's another $150 billion on top of the more than $1 trillion that's already been spent to rescue the sinking economy and financial markets? Momentum is building for a fresh dose of economic stimulants to boost the country out of the doldrums, perhaps by putting more money in Americans' pockets. More

Save Yourself from a Contractor Rip-Off
from KTRK-TV
Rebuilding your home is not an easy process. For many, they don't even know where to begin. Consumers are afraid they'll be ripped off by contractors looking to make a buck, but there are ways to find the right person for the job. More

Lubbock One of Nation's Best Housing Markets
from KCBD-TV
Lubbock is the second best housing market in the nation. That's according to a forecast from a company called Veros Real Estate Solutions. The California based company released the five strongest and five weakest markets based on its 12-month forecast. More

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