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Home    Education    Legislative    Publications    Calendar    Sunbelt Builders Show    Resources Jun. 28, 2012

New home sales hit 2-year high
ABC News    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
The housing market — where the current economic mess started — is now a bit of a bright spot in the struggling economy. Sales of newly built homes in the U.S. hit the highest level in more than two years, indicating a slow recovery in the housing market, the government reported today. New home sales were up 7.6 percent in May compared with a month earlier and the most since April 2010, according to the Commerce Department. More

Texas may raise wholesale cost of electricity in effort to spur construction of more plants    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
With temperatures soaring into the 100s, the Texas Public Utility Commission is set to vote today on raising the price cap on wholesale electricity rates by 50 percent later this summer, a move advocates hope would spur construction of new power plants to help the state avoid rolling blackouts and meet future energy demands. The state's large industrial users warn such a move could raise wholesale market costs by billions of dollars, and consumer groups worry that will eventually trickle down to monthly household electric bills for most Texans. More

Builders pull out of a slump
Houston Chronicle    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
After the slowest year for new home construction since the peak in 2006, Houston-area builders are starting to regain momentum in 2012. Optimism has returned in the local home building industry, as Houston employers continue to add jobs, mortgage rates remain low and consumer sentiment for housing improves. "This is another chance to enjoy some prosperity," analyst Mike Inselmann said during a recent midyear forecast presentation to members of the Greater Houston Builder Association. More

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Austin, Round Rock among nation's fastest-growing cities
Austin American-Statesman    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Austin, Round Rock and Texas, my how you keep growing and growing. Among the fastest-growing U.S. cities with populations of 100,000 or more, Round Rock ranked second, and Austin ranked third, according to a new U.S. Census Bureau report out today, the first population estimates of the nation's cities since the 2010 census. Round Rock grew by 4.8 percent and surpassed the 100,000 mark, with 104,664. Only New Orleans, still rebuilding from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, had faster growth among large cities, at 4.9 percent. More

Texas real estate law: Demand for public-private partnerships expected to grow
Dallas Business Journal    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Texas real estate and construction lawyers say they are expecting a rise in public-private partnership developments. Why the demand for public-private partnerships? Because the Texas Legislature passed a bill that clearly defines those agreements. "There were ways of going about doing it in the past, but the statute that the legislation passed in this last session makes it a whole lot easier for state government to build projects with private financing," said Robert Bass, an Austin-based lawyer and shareholder of Winstead PC. More

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Business leaders draw a line on education funding
The Texas Tribune    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Leaders in the business community said that they would not stand for increased funding for education if it came with any rollback of accountability standards in Texas public schools. "If we are going to remain competitive in the world's market, we are going to have to have an educated workforce. We do not have one today," said Bill Hammond, the president of the Texas Association of Business. "We will vigorously oppose additional money for the public school system unless and until we are certain that the current accountability system is going to be maintained." More

Interactive: US Census data reveals Texas business patterns
The Texas Tribune    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
It's not booming, but business in Texas is picking up. Economists say economic growth across the Southwest will be slow this spring and that Texas' unemployment rate flat-lined at 6.9 percent in May. But overall, Texas has a tolerable economic outlook compared with 2010, when the unemployment rate peaked at 8.2 percent. More

Report: Feds approve Texas portion of Keystone pipeline
San Antonio Business Journal    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approved construction permits for the Texas leg of TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline, the New York Times reported. TransCanada is still working for regulatory approval for the full 1,700-mile pipeline. The company wants to ship heavy crude from Alberta, Canada, to refineries along the Gulf Coast. More

Mortgage rates for US 30-year loans hold at record-low 3.66 percent
Bloomberg    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Mortgage rates in the U.S. were little changed, keeping borrowing costs at the record-low levels that have helped bolster the housing market. The average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage held at 3.66 percent, the lowest in Freddie Mac records dating to 1971. The average 15-year rate dropped to 2.94 percent, also a record, from 2.95 percent, the McLean, Virginia-based mortgage-finance company said in a statement. More

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The housing market's latest problem: Lack of inventory
Forbes    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
While it's still unusual for non-distressed homes to fetch more than their asking prices, a buying frenzy (at least compared to the past four years) taking hold in many of America’s most sought after neighborhoods. Realtors in various markets across the country report robust increases in the number of transactions transpiring. In some areas, prices are beginning to tick up in response. More

Tech and green standards collide
Contructech    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council garners a bulk of the attention when it came to green standards in design and construction. While it is a very commonly used standard in construction, others are making some noise as of late as well. More


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US economy grew at modest 1.9 percent rate
The Associated Press via Houston Chronicle    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
The U.S. economy expanded at a 1.9 percent annual rate in the first three months of the year, a weak pace that few economists see changing much this year. The Commerce Department made no change in its third and final estimate for growth in the January-March quarter. Slower growth in consumer spending was offset by faster growth in businesses investment in buildings, leaving the overall pace the same. More

GAO to OSHA: Speed it up a little
GreenSource    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
The U.S. General Accountability Office (GAO) has performed an audit of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) concluding that the agency's cumbersome procedures make it far too slow to act, resulting in insufficient worker protection. "Workplace Safety and Health: Multiple Challenges Lengthen OSHA's Standard Setting" says a typical OSHA rule takes nearly eight years to develop, with many taking much longer. More

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Supreme Court health care ruling explained
Austin American-Statesman Postcards Blog    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Thanks to the fine experts at, here is the "plain English" explanation of the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling on the Affordable Care Act, by Amy Howe. "The Affordable Care Act, including its individual mandate that virtually all Americans buy health insurance, is constitutional." More

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Unemployment aid applications fall
The Associated Press via CBS Money Watch    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell last week, but the level of applications remains too high to signal a pickup in hiring. The Labor Department said that weekly applications fell to a seasonally adjusted 386,000. That's down from 392,000 the previous week, which was revised up. The four-week average, which smooths week-to-week fluctuations, was mostly unchanged at 386,750. More
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