Friday, March 26, 2010

Great News for Dallas & Houston

Houston and Dallas–Fort Worth received the largest influx of residents in the country in 2009, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The 6.45 million people living in DFW as of July 1, 2009, marked a 2.3 percent increase from 2008. The area's raw influx of 146,530 people was more than any other region in the nation.

Houston had the second-highest population growth last year, with 140,784 people pouring into the metro area, a 2.5 percent increase that pushed the region’s total population to 5.86 million.

DFW now houses the nation’s fourth-highest population, and Houston the sixth-highest, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Top 5 Cities Where The Recession Is Easing

1. (tie) Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, D.C.-Va.-Md.-W.Va.
Unemployment Rank: 1
Home Price Rank: 26
Metropolitan Gross Domestic Product Rank: 3
Three-Year Job Growth Forecast Rank: 17
Job Growth, 2007-2009 Rank: 3

1. (tie) Austin-Round Rock, Texas
Unemployment Rank: 3
Home Price Rank: 13
Metropolitan Gross Domestic Product Rank: 31
Three-Year Job Growth Forecast Rank: 2
Job Growth, 2007-2009 Rank: 1

2. Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas
Unemployment Rank: 9
Home Price Rank: 25
Metropolitan Gross Domestic Product Rank: 11
Three-Year Job Growth Forecast Rank: 3
Job Growth, 2007-2009 Rank: 5

3. (tie) Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, Minn.-Wis.
Unemployment Rank: 5
Home Price Rank: 12
Metropolitan Gross Domestic Product Rank: 14
Three-Year Job Growth Forecast Rank: 13
Job Growth, 2007-2009 Rank: 18

3. (tie) Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, Texas
Unemployment Rank: 12
Home Price Rank: 32
Metropolitan Gross Domestic Product Rank: 8
Three-Year Job Growth Forecast Rank: 4
Job Growth, 2007-2009 Rank: 6

Economic Good News for March, 2010

According to the ICSC-Goldman Sachs index, retail sales rose 2.9% for the week ending March 6. It was the biggest weekly gain in nine years. On a year-over-year basis, retailers saw sales increase 3.4%, the best showing in two-and-a-half years.
The Mortgage Bankers Association said its seasonally adjusted index of mortgage applications for the week ending March 5 rose 0.5%. Purchase volume increased 5.7%. Refinancing applications fell 1.5%.
The Commerce Department said wholesalers cut their inventories by 0.2% in January following a downward revised 1% drop in December. Meanwhile, sales at the wholesale level rose 1.3% in January, marking the 10th straight monthly gain.
The trade deficit unexpectedly fell 6.6% to $37.3 billion in January from a revised $39.9 billion gap in December. Economists had expected the trade deficit to widen to $41 billion. Exports slipped 0.3% to $142.7 billion. Imports fell 1.7% to $180 billion.
Initial claims for unemployment benefits fell by 6,000 to 462,000 in the week ending March 6. Continuing claims for the week ending February 27 rose by 37,000 to 4.558 million.
Retail sales rose 0.3% in February, following a revised 0.1% increase in January. Economists had anticipated retail sales to decline 0.2% in February. On a year-over-year basis, retail sales increased 3.9%.
The Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment index for March’s preliminary reading fell to 72.5 from February's final reading of 73.6. One year ago, the mid-March reading was 57.3. During the economic expansion that ended in December 2007, the index averaged 88.9.
Upcoming on the economic calendar are reports on the housing market index on March 15, housing starts on March 16 and the index of leading economic indicators on March 18.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Preston Commons in Preston Center Sold

Capri Capital Partners LLC has taken full ownership of the 300,000-sf Sterling Plaza and the 421,721-sf Preston Commons in the Preston Center business district from Calif.-based BentleyForbes.
The properties contain prime office space that is about 80 percent leased. Chase Bank is the major tenant in Preston Commons.
Cushman & Wakefield has been assigned management responsibilities for the properties.
Capstar Commercial will continue to lease the buildings.

Whole Foods Market will open its biggest store in North Texas at the Park Lane development.

The Austin-based natural and organic grocer has created 350 jobs in its 64,000-sf store, which fronts Greenville Ave. It has also brought the retail occupancy at the one-year-old Park Lane project to 60 percent.
Two more North Texas Whole Foods Markets are under development. One site opens at the Village at Fairview in early fall, and a Tarrant County store is waiting for roads to be built. These will be the region’s eighth and ninth Whole Foods Markets.
Park Lane is a 33.5-acre, $750 million mixed-use development that includes 750,000 sf of existing office space and 700,000 sf of retail, restaurant and entertainment space


Nonlender buyers looking for a deal on a house are heading for the foreclosure auction, where they paid an average of 56 cents on the dollar for foreclosed homes in the Dallas–Fort Worth area in first quarter 2010, according to Foreclosure Listing Service.
Dallas County foreclosed homes sold to outside buyers at an even cheaper 48 percent of the appraised value, far less than the average 60 cents on the dollar paid in September 2008.
The average sale price of an auctioned home was $91,851 in the first quarter, compared with $103,629 in 2008.
Foreclosure Listing Service reports that about 6 percent of foreclosed homes are directly purchased at foreclosure auction and that out of 13,259 foreclosures filed in DFW during the first quarter, only 263 homes were sold.


The Bridge Homeless Assistance Center has received LEED Silver certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.
The homeless shelter, in Dallas’ central business district, is one of only two in the nation with such recognition and one of only five considered green.
The 2008 building is designed to maximize daylight, reduce the use of artificial light and conserve 1.5 million gallons of water each year by using the graywater recycling system.
The Bridge Homeless Assistance Center was designed by San Antonio–based Overland Partners Architects and Dallas-based CamargoCopeland Architects.


 (Dallas Business Journal) – Discount grocer Aldi Inc. will open 27 stores and 400 job opportunities in North Texas this spring.
The first 11 will open in March, followed by nine more in April and another seven in May.
Aldi said it plans to invest over $150 million in Texas.


Chief Economist Dr. Mark Dotzour is crisscrossing the nation delivering his economic message and collecting valuable data for the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University.
Among the comments he heard this week at meetings of the National Association of Business Economics in Washington, D.C., were:
  • “Clearly there is virtually no threat of inflation in the next two years.”
  • “There’s virtually no chance of the Fed increasing interest rates (maybe a symbolic small move aside).”
  • “The last recession, the Fed waited until unemployment was 5.5 percent before tightening.”
  • "We won't get to that level for several years.”
  • “The threat is for deflation across the globe, with the exception of China.”
  • “China’s money supply is up 30 percent from last year. Our M3 (the Fed’s measure of the money supply) is virtually unchanged from a year ago, and available credit is less than last year.”
“The Congressional Budget Office said the United States is going to be unable to pay for the social contract with America,” said Dotzour. “It’s only a matter of when and how the adjustments for failed promises have to take place. Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security cannot be funded at current levels of spending.”
For more on Dotzour's findings, read the Center's news release.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Dallas Securitized Debt on Commercial Properties

Over 9 percent of area commercial properties with securitized debt were behind on payments at the end of February, more than 33 percent higher than the national average, according to a report released Wednesday by Trepp LLC.
The New York–based analyst tracks thousands of commercial properties across the country that are financed with securitized mortgages.
With nearly 160 commercial and investment properties in trouble, area debt totals $1.28 billion in this sector.
The late loan rate has increased almost 200 percent in Dallas from one year ago, said Paul Mancuso, vice president of Trepp.
The hotel sector had the highest mortgage delinquency rate according to the report, with almost 17 percent of securitized hotel loans behind on payments at the end of last month. The office building delinquency rate was just over 12 percent.
Commercial properties posted for foreclosure in Dallas–Fort Worth rose almost 27 percent in 2009.
(Dallas Morning News)

Trinity River Update

The Trinity Parkway is intimately linked to the Trinity River levees, but the issues slowing the road and raising concerns about the city's risk of flood are not identical. Here's what's next for the Trinity levees.
• For years, the city has been working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to improve its levees, a plan that has grown to include all sorts of amenities, including the Trinity Parkway, lakes, parks and even a new course for part of the river. Congress authorized a $459 million project in 2007.
• To proceed with those projects, the city and the corps have to complete a feasibility study, one that looks at every element of the project and determines whether building all the amenities can be done without interfering with flood control.

• Congress is expected to reduce annual funding for the corps' share of the feasibility study, meaning that the project – including raising the levees, building the lakes, adding the road – could be delayed. To forestall that, a Dallas City Council committee last week approved a plan to take about $5 million in bond money slated to build the project's lakes and loan it to the corps.

• The existing levees flunked a corps inspection last year, and the city is spending $29 million to find out what needs to be done for them to be rated acceptable. That study is due in the next month or so, and the head of the City Council panel overseeing the Trinity River project says making levee repairs will require asking voters to approve a new bond package.

Texas unemployment rate steady at 8.2%

The Texas unemployment rate stood at 8.2 percent in January, unchanged from December, the Texas Workforce Commission said Thursday.

"The Texas unemployment rate held steady over the past two months ... and remained lower than the national rate of 9.7 percent," said Tom Pauken, chairman of the Texas Workforce Commission.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Latest Economic News 3/1/2010

The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller 20-city housing price index rose a seasonally adjusted 0.3% in December. It was the seventh consecutive monthly gain and follows a 0.2% increase in November.
The consumer confidence index fell to 46 in February from an upwardly revised 56.5 in January. Economists had anticipated a reading of 55. The index was benchmarked at 100 in 1985, a year chosen because it was neither a peak nor a trough in consumer confidence.
The Commerce Department reported new home sales fell 11.2% in January to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 309,000 units from a rate of 342,000 units in December. Economists had expected a pace of 354,000.
Initial claims for unemployment benefits rose by 22,000 to 496,000 in the week ending February 20. Continuing claims for the week ending February 13 rose by 6,000 to 4.617 million.
Orders for durable goods — items expected to last three or more years — rose 3% in January after a revised 1.9% increase in December. Excluding volatile transportation-related goods, orders posted a monthly decrease of 0.6%.
Existing home sales fell 7.2% in January to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.05 million units from 5.44 million units in December. The inventory of unsold homes on the market fell 0.5% to 3.27 million, a 7.8-month supply at the current sales pace, up from a 7.2-month supply in December and a 6.5-month supply in November.
The Commerce Department announced that gross domestic product — the total output of goods and services produced in the U.S. — increased at an annual rate of 5.9% in the fourth quarter of 2009, rather than the 5.7% increase initially reported last month.
Upcoming on the economic calendar are reports on construction spending on March 1, and factory orders and pending home sales on March 4.