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Home    Education    Legislative    Publications    Calendar    Sunbelt Builders Show    Resources Apr. 23, 2013

TAB News Briefs
Apr. 23, 2013
TAB Quick Links >    Home     Education     Legislative     Publications     Calendar     Sunbelt Builders Show     Resources

Housing starts clear 1 million mark for 1st time in nearly 5 years
The Hill    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Home builders broke ground on more than 1 million homes for the first time in nearly five years, driven by a sharp increase in multifamily building. Housing starts increased by 7 percent in March, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.04 million, clearing that mark for the first time since June 2008, the Commerce Department said. Apartment construction, which can be volatile from month to month, surged by 31 percent to an annual rate of 417,000, the fastest pace since January 2006. More

Continuing Texas drought puts pressure on state's water supply
The Dallas Morning News    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Don't let the recent spring showers fool you. It's dry out there, historically dry, parched enough around Dallas that even normal levels of rainfall this year might not make a big difference in the drought. The North Texas Municipal Water District, which faces another summer without 28 percent of its water supply, is already talking about Stage 3 water restrictions, which limit outdoor watering to once every seven days. And its major reservoir, Lavon Lake, is already below 66 percent of capacity. (Registration may be required to view full article.) More
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Housing juggernaut seen spurring 500,000 new US workers
Bloomberg    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
A rebound in homebuilding after a six-year slump should generate as many as 500,000 jobs in 2013 and 700,000 in 2014 including related services, estimates Russell Price, a senior economist at Ameriprise Financial Inc. in Detroit and the top forecaster of employment for the past two years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. "Housing is like a coiled spring" driven by "a lot of pent-up demand," said Glenn Hubbard, dean of Columbia University's business school in New York, who was chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers under President George W. Bush. More

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Straus picks lead budget negotiators
The Texas Tribune    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
The lawmakers who will sit at the most closely watched negotiating table of the legislative session were named April 22, and their colleagues started them off with instructions to stay away from anything that would expand the Medicaid program in Texas. The Texas House passed a $193.8 billion budget earlier this month. The Senate approved a $195.5 billion budget in March. The conference committee is tasked with resolving differences between the two documents and coming up with a budget both chambers can support. More

Texas to benefit from $1 million environmental settlement
Houston Chronicle    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
A Portuguese shipping company has agreed to pay $1 million to settle pollution allegations in East Texas. U.S. Attorney John Bales announced the environmental agreement with CIMPSHIP Transportes Maritimos SA., based in Funchal, Portugal. The settlement to benefit forests and marine sanctuaries was announced on the banks of Village Creek in Hardin County. More

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Bexar property values rise
San Antonio Express-News    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Property values in Bexar County are up, with commercial real estate posting some of the biggest increases. Owners whose properties appreciated by more than $1,000 will start receiving notices soon. The Bexar Appraisal District expects to mail about 300,000 notices beginning this weekend. That's twice as many as last year. Overall, values in Bexar County — with about 648,000 properties — will rise about 5 percent. More

West, Texas Fertilizer plant inquiry planned: House committee to look at location, safety
El Paso Times    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
A Texas House committee will open an investigation into how many of Texas' 592 fertilizer plants are close to homes, businesses and schools, the committee's chairman, Rep. Joe Pickett, D-El Paso, said. A nursing home, two schools and private residences were a few hundred yards from a fertilizer plant in West, Texas, that exploded with devastating consequences. At least 14 were killed, more than 150 were injured and scores of buildings were destroyed. Pickett, chairman of the House Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee, said he wants to determine where else such a disaster could happen. More

Home sales slip due to limited inventory
HSH Financial News Blog    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Sales of existing homes and condominiums in the U.S. declined slightly in March as prospective buyers faced rising prices, bidding wars and constrained supplies of homes from which to choose. That's all according to a home sales report released April 22 by the National Association of Realtors. Slightly more than 1.9 million existing homes were on the market at the end of March, representing a 4.7-month supply at the then-current pace of sales, up slightly from 4.6-month supply at the end of February. The supply of for-sale homes in March was 16.8 percent lower than a year ago. More

Austin shrinks permit review backlog
Austin Business Journal    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
A major residential review applications backlog has been cleared by Austin's Planning and Development Review Department, city officials said recently. A 13-member team over the past month processed more than 650 permit applications that needed to be reviewed, enabling home remodel projects to begin. The backlog has been a major problem for contractors, who have had to tell clients interested in renovating their homes that projects will have to wait months for administrative approval. More

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Home builders call on Congress to improve immigration bill's guest worker provisions
NAHB    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
The National Association of Home Builders commends the bipartisan Senate sponsors of legislation to advance comprehensive immigration reform and called on lawmakers to improve the guest worker provisions in the bill to address the significant role that foreign workers play in the housing industry and to help alleviate current labor challenges that are hampering the housing and economic recovery. Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act (S. 744), NAHB Chairman Rick Judson urged Congress to implement a new market-based visa system that would allow more immigrants to legally enter the construction workforce each year. More

Austin new home starts rise 27 percent
Austin Business Journal    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
New home starts jumped 27 percent in a year's time in Austin, according to Metrostudy. In the first quarter of 2013, there were 1,952 new home starts, an increase of 413 homes. Closings also jumped about 30 percent between the first quarter of 2012 and the first quarter of 2013. In all, there were 1,995 final sales of new homes during the first quarter. Currently, there are about 4,000 homes in inventory with 313 furnished model homes, 1,378 finished vacant homes and 2,296 homes under construction. The homes under construction represent a 52 percent increase from a year ago. More

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Americans' optimism about home prices surges this year
Gallup    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Fifty-one percent of Americans expect average home prices in their local area to increase over the next year, a sharp increase from last year and the first time it has been above 50 percent since 2007. These data are from Gallup's annual Economy and Personal Finance survey, conducted April 4-14, polling more than 2,000 Americans and 1,400 homeowners on the topic of housing. This is the first of several stories on housing and homeownership Gallup will run this week, as part of Gallup's ongoing series, "The New American Consumer." More

Texas Legislature: Talk is on how, not if, to tap piggy bank
San Angelo Standard-Times    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
About $2 billion for water. Maybe $3.5 billion for roads. Maybe more to restore $5.4 billion from last session's public education cuts. The needs are adding up, and Texas lawmakers are eyeing one fund in particular — the Rainy Day Fund. The fund, properly called the Economic Stabilization Fund, fed mostly by oil and gas taxes, is estimated to have $11.8 billion by the end of fiscal year 2015. It has about $8 billion now. More

Senate OKs bill to collect state taxes on online sales
Fort Worth Star-Telegram    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
States could force Internet retailers to collect sales taxes under a bill that overwhelmingly passed a test vote in the Senate. Under current law, states can only require stores to collect sales taxes if the store has a physical presence in the state. As a result, many online sales are essentially tax-free, giving Internet retailers a big advantage over brick-and-mortar stores. The bill would allow states to require online retailers to collect state and local sales taxes for purchases made over the Internet. The sales taxes would be sent to the states where shoppers live. More

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Chang: Investors aren't driving the housing recovery
Bloomberg Businessweek    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
The U.S. housing recovery is being driven more by buyers seeking a place to live than by investors, said Oliver Chang, a former Morgan Stanley analyst and proponent of bringing institutional capital to rental housing. Purchases by owner-occupants seeking to take advantage of mortgage rates that are close to a record low have been the biggest factor in rising home prices and sales following the worst housing crash since the Great Depression, according to Chang, who left Morgan Stanley to co-found Sylvan Road Capital LLC, an Atlanta-based single-family home rental investment fund. More
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