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Jan. 22, 2009
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Home Sales End Year on Sluggish Note
from TThe Houston Business Journal
The local real estate market closed out 2008 with continued sluggish sales and lower pricing. Overall property sales fell 16 percent in December when compared to December 2007, and sales of single-family homes were down 13.5 percent, according to new monthly data compiled by the Houston Association of Realtors. But the figures show dramatic improvement from November, when both total property and single-family sales volume declined by more than 30 percent. More


Texas Oil Country Sees Downturn Coming
from The Amarillo Globe-News
In the West Texas oil patch, they can see the downturn coming at them from miles away like a pickup truck kicking up a dust cloud on the horizon. With crude dropping below $40 a barrel from a high of around $150 over the summer, oil and gas companies in the Lone Star State are cutting back on drilling, the layoffs are beginning, and the boom of the past few years appears to be drawing to a close. The boom may not necessarily give way to a bust. But the days of plentiful jobs, big paychecks and shiny new pickups and SUVS seem to be numbered. "It's been a good ride up, but we're bracing ourselves for the ride down," said Midland City Manager Courtney Sharp, who expects a drop in tax revenue next month because of slumping sales in the city of about 98,000. More

Texas Receives Nearly $400,000 Grant to Fight Foreclosures
from The Austin Business Journal
The Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs won a $387,000 grant from the National Foreclosure Mitigation Counseling Program. The state agency will use the funds to help stem the tide of home foreclosures across the state and to help bring stability to families, neighborhoods and local government finances. The Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs is working with homeowners who are either in or near foreclosure to hammer out a repayment plan or a favorable adjustment to their mortgage loan. More

Hinojosa Sends Letter Urging Aid for Rural Areas in Stimulus Package
from The Beeville Bee-Picayune
Congressman Hinojosa sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, and then President-elect Obama on Wednesday, Jan. 13, urging the inclusion of rural housing funding in the economic stimulus package. In the letter, Congressman Hinojosa emphasized the need to provide relief to America’s oft-forgotten rural communities who have been hard hit by the economic crisis. More

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Perry Urges More Money for Texas Job Fund
from The Waco Tribune
Gov. Rick Perry is heralding the arrival of 1,400 new Caterpillar Inc. jobs and says the company's expansion shows the Texas Enterprise Fund is working well. Perry is asking the Legislature to put more money into the fund that's used to seal business deals that bring jobs to Texas. More

Commentary: Senator’s Voting Move Underscores GOP’s Power
from The Austin American-Statesman
Tommy Williams, who ranks 22nd in seniority in the 31-member Texas Senate, showed unexpected big-dog swagger on behalf of an unsatisfied Republican cause the other day. Who is he? Williams, a CPA and financial services executive, lives in The Woodlands north of Houston; he has steered deals protecting the community from annexation by Houston. Williams, a CPA and financial services executive, lives in The Woodlands north of Houston; he has steered deals protecting the community from annexation by Houston. More

Banks Foreclose on Builders With Perfect Records
from The New York Times
Dave Brown, one of this city’s best-known home builders, had kept his head above water through the housing downturn, not missing a single interest payment on his loans. So he was confounded a few months back when one of his banks, spooked by the decline in his company’s revenue, suddenly demanded millions of dollars in additional collateral to continue carrying loans on his projects. He was unable to come up with the money, and in October, JPMorgan Chase foreclosed on five of his developments. More

Commentary: Hutchison Looking to Play Cards Right on Two Fronts
from The Forth Worth Star-Telegram
When U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison walked out Tuesday morning to the sight of 2 million people in front of the U.S. Capitol, she reacted like any good Dallas Republican. "I thought, 'Why did I not wear my boots" she said Wednesday, thawing out from President Barack Obama’s inauguration. "We were ?’ freezing up there." She’d be warmer in Texas. But she can’t come home full time until next winter, because the Republicans need her help to keep filibusters going just when she’s ready to come bust up Rick Perry’s 10-year filibuster as governor. More

Perry Wants Eminent Domain Language in Constitution
from The Austin American-Statesman
Gov. Rick Perry will call today for an amendment to the Texas Constitution on eminent domain. Sources familiar with his plans say he wants Constitutional language that is similar to Senate Bill 7, which the Legislature passed in 2005 to bar local governments from condemning private property for for-profit economic development projects. More

Home Construction Marks Worst Year Since 1959
from The Houston Chronicle
New-home construction plunged to an all-time low in December, capping the worst year for builders on records dating back to 1959. The Commerce Department reported today that construction of new homes and apartments fell 15.5 percent to an annual rate of 550,000 units last month. That shattered the previous low set in November. It was a much weaker showing than the pace of 610,000 that economists were forecasting and ended 2008 on a dismal note. For all of last year, the number of housing units that builders broke ground on totaled just over 904,000, also a record low. That marked a huge 33.3 percent drop from the 1.355 million housing units started in 2007. The previous low was set in 1991. More

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