Thursday, May 14, 2009

Keynote Speaker Sees Strong Texas

DALLAS-Though Texas has joined much of the nation in entering the economic downturn, the North Texas Realty Symposium keynote speaker suggested the drivers of the state's economy wouldn't keep it down for long. Todd Staples, the state's Commissioner of Agriculture said that Texas has a diversified economic base, a reputation for jobs creation, and a high GDP.

"If Texas were its own country, it would have the highest GDP per person in the world," Staples told participants at the Appraisal Institute, North Texas Chapter's symposium on May 12. "We're number one in productivity per person, worldwide," he added."

The commissioner introduced other statistics meant to inspire the heart of Texans. For instance, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 50% of all jobs created between December 2007 and December 2008 were created in Texas. Furthermore, he pointed out, Texas stayed away from the recession longer because of its diversified economy. Staples said businesses consider Texas high on their list of places to relocate because of a friendly tax policy, reliable workforce, civil justice and standard of living.

This doesn't mean the state can't use some improvement, however. On the sobering side, Staples sayd the Lone Star State placed 10th on the rate of growth. "Other countries are outpacing us," he said. To that end, the legislature is attempting to develop ways to manage growth. Furthermore, financial assistance through the Texas Capital Fund and the Texas Agriculture Finance Authority are on hand for property and to help with agricultural matters.

Furthermore, he told the participants, don't be shy with bringing forward shovel-ready products that could qualify for part of the federal stimulus money. "If there's an interest in going green, there's federal money for that too," he said.

But one aspect that remains somewhat sticky is Texas' role as a non-disclosure state, something that is impeding realistic valuation of real estate assets. "Discussions about this continue in the legislature," he acknowledged. "But there are folks who believe the value of real estate is a privacy issue, and they don't want what they pay for property known."

Staples allowed as the non-disclosure system in the state made it more difficult for appraisers to do their job, and remarked that the current property valuation system in the state needed some kind of reform. Just what that reform would be, however, wasn't clear. "Legislators are glad to learn, and hear, what the real estate community can provide in way of solutions," he added.
By Amy Wolff Sorter with