TAB News Briefs
Feb. 26, 2013

Registration is now live for 2013 Sunbelt Builders Show
The Sunbelt Builders Show™, located in San Antonio June 24–25, announces the official opening of Show registration. For a limited time, registration for the Sunbelt Builders Show™ is free. Complimentary registration includes entry to the trade show floor, an opening session featuring J.R. Martinez, former U.S. Army soldier and the champion of ABC's 2011 Dancing with the Stars, and builder-centric education sessions.More

Nationwide housing affordability increases at year-end 2012
Exceptionally low interest rates helped ensure a slight gain in nationwide housing affordability amid relatively stable house prices in the final quarter of 2012, according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index. In all, 74.9 percent of homes sold between the beginning of October and end of December were affordable to families earning the U.S. median income of $65,000. This was up nearly a percentage point from the 74.1 percent of homes sold that were affordable to median-income earners in last year's third quarter.More

Outlook good for Texas new home construction
Real Estate Center
Overall U.S. housing starts were down last month, but the Texas market remains in good shape. Nationally, U.S. housing starts fell 8.5 percent last month, according to data released by Wells Fargo. Single-family home starts were up 0.8 percent last month, but multifamily starts were down 24.1 percent following a 34.7 rise in December. Permits rose in both categories. In Texas, new home construction continues to expand at a "brisk pace, adding construction employment and general uptick to local economies," said Real Estate Center Research Economist Dr. Jim Gaines.More

Texas lawmakers to consider distracted driving ban
The Associated Press via Houston Chronicle
Texas Rep. Tom Craddick is proposing a statewide ban on texting while driving. The House Transportation Committee will hear testimony on Tuesday from people who lost relatives to traffic accidents that involved distracted driving. The widow of an Army helicopter gunner is expected to describe the crash that killed her husband after he had survived combat service in Iraq.More

Downtown El Paso changes, challenges detailed
El Paso Times
Downtown El Paso continues to improve, but uncertainties and challenges remain for full revitalization to take place, according to a report that will be handed out to City Council members. The El Paso Downtown Management District completed its 2012 annual report, and the highlights include the largest number of events ever held in Downtown in a calendar year, a parking study, a new online business directory and a facade grant program that helped increase property values.More

Builder confidence virtually unchanged in February
Building Online
Builder confidence in the market for newly built, single-family homes was virtually unchanged in February with a one-point decline to 46 on the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index. "Following solid gains over the past year, builder confidence has essentially leveled out and held in the same three-point range over the last four months," noted NAHB Chairman Rick Judson.More

Austin home sales stay hot, up 33 percent in January
Austin American-Statesman
The Central Texas housing market is sizzling, experts and real estate agents say, and they predict the momentum from 2012 will continue throughout this year. In its recent monthly report, the Austin Board of Realtors said January home sales in Central Texas jumped 33 percent over the same month last year, hitting their highest January level in six years.More

Wine Cellar Specialists win 2nd award
Virtual-Strategy Magazine
Wine Cellar Specialists, a master wine cellar builder in Dallas, has won their second award in 3 months. Their last award was the 2012 Dallas Builders Association ARC Award in November. This month the company has won the Houzz's 2013 "Best of Remodeling" award in the Customer Satisfaction category determined by 11 million homeowners and home design enthusiasts in the Houzz community.More

Toll Brothers falls after earnings miss analyst estimates
Bloomberg Businessweek
Toll Brothers Inc., the largest U.S. luxury home builder, tumbled the most in four years after reporting fiscal first-quarter earnings that trailed analyst estimates and projecting narrower margins. Net income for the quarter ended Jan. 31 was $4.4 million, or 3 cents a share, compared with a loss of $2.8 million, or 2 cents, a year earlier, the Horsham, Pennsylvania-based company said in a statement.More

Agriculture stakes its claim in water plan debate
State Impact Texas via The Texas Tribune
AudioBriefAs Texas lawmakers mull a plan to safeguard the state against future water shortages, agriculture groups are already worried they might be left high and dry.More

Rare spider again bites construction
San Antonio Express-News
The rare, federally protected spider that gained fame for stopping a highway project has also blocked a water pipeline. With less than 1,500 feet to go, construction of a six-mile, $11 million pipeline was halted after the discovery of the endangered Braken Bat Cave meshweaver at Loop 1604 and Texas 151, the board of the San Antonio Water System was told.More

Voting rights case has Texas implications
Austin American-Statesman
Race and politics are at the center of a major case with Texas implications that's scheduled to be heard Wednesday by the U.S. Supreme Court. Although it originated in north-central Alabama, the case of Shelby County v. Holder holds potentially profound consequences for politics and civil rights in Texas, a state where minority groups taken together now outnumber whites.More

Lawmakers working on bills in committee
The Lufkin News
It's been a busy, but productive week at your State Capitol. This week a good number of folks from back home and there was a lot of committee and House floor activity. Both House Appropriations and House Natural Resources stayed busy this week with meetings and hearings.More