Monday, July 30, 2012

BuilderBytes' MetroIntelligence Economic Update for 7/30/12

Please click here to see the edition of BuilderBytes for 7/30/12 on the Web.

In this issue of the MetroIntelligence Economic Update, I covered the following indicators:

  • Second quarter 2012 GDP rose by 1.5% versus 2.0% the previous quarter
  • Univ. of Michigan/Reuters consumer sentiment survey slips in June
  • Durable goods orders rose by 1.6% in June following 1.6% rise in May
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Friday, July 27, 2012

BuilderBytes' MetroIntelligence Economic Update for 7/27/12


Please click here to see the edition of BuilderBytes for 7/27/12 on the Web.

In this issue of the MetroIntelligence Economic Update, I covered the following indicators:
  • Initial unemployment claims fall by 35,000 in latest report
  • New home sales in June dip by 8.4% from May as inventory declines
  • Pending home sales in June fall by 1.4% from May due to inventory shortages at lower end
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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

BuilderBytes' MetroIntelligence Economic Update for 7/25/12

Please click here to see the edition of BuilderBytes for 7/25/12 on the Web.

In this issue of the MetroIntelligence Economic Update, I covered the following indicator:
  • FHFA House Price Index rose by 0.8% from April to May and by 3.7% since May of 2011
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Monday, July 23, 2012

July column for Builder & Developer magazine now online

My column for the July issue of Builder & Developer magazine is now posted online.

For this issue, entitled "The Student Loan Crisis," I wanted to review the important trend of escalating student loan debt and just what that means for the housing market.

An excerpt:

According to a recent analysis of government data by the NAHB, the rise in student loan debt is actually a function of lower home values:  with U.S. household wealth falling by 40% between 2007 and 2010, students who were formerly able to rely on their parents’ home equity lines instead took on a patchwork of student loans from both the federal government and private lenders such as SallieMae (the former GSE fully privatized in 2004), Citibank or JPMorganChase.


Since the year 2000, student loan debt has reportedly quadrupled.  Not surprisingly, a challenging job market for recent graduates has meant a rise in 90+ day delinquency rates for student loans to 8.69% during the first quarter of 2012 (versus 6.67% for home mortgages and 4.55% for auto loans).  Even with a 42% jump in student loan delinquency rates from the third quarter of 2008, the NAHB report concludes that while the total number of distressed loans is likely to continue rising in the short run, it certainly doesn’t rise to the hue and cry of ‘a new economic bubble waiting to burst.’

To read the entire column, click here.

To read the entire July 2012 issue in digital format, click here.

BuilderBytes' MetroIntelligence Economic Update for 7/23/12

Please click here to see the edition of BuilderBytes for 7/23/12 on the Web.

In this issue of the MetroIntelligence Economic Update, I covered the following indicators:
  • Leading Indicator Index fell by 0.3% in July following 0.4% rise in May
  • Federal Reserve Beige Book reports modest expansion and improvement in housing markets
  • Initial unemployment claims rise by 34,000 in latest survey
  • Philadelphia Fed's July Business Outlook Survey continues to report weak conditions
  • Existing home sales fell in June as prices rose due to fewer distressed homes available
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Friday, July 20, 2012

The 2012 Gold Nugget Awards: Design Meets Green Building

It’s certainly interesting to see that the Home of the Year at the recent 2012 Gold Nugget Awards in San Francisco, entitled “Modern Farmhouse,” seemed to effortlessly combine the style of a classic farmhouse with today’s demand for flexible living and multi-generational households.  Although built as a semi-custom home to be auctioned off for St. Jude’s Cancer Center, the Castle Rock, CO home by Woodley Architects has been so well-received that similar designs are currently underway.

But this award-winning home is far from an exception.  In today’s competitive business environment, product design for consumer technology, cars and Web sites has taken center stage, and it is now increasingly felt in updated designs for a variety of building projects whether they’re intended for single-family homes, multi-family projects, mixed-use projects or even the growing demand for multi-generational homes.

For example, Garbett Homes’ Solaris project in South Jordan, UT, nabbed the Grand Award for Residential Project of the Year – Detached Product due to a combination of bright colors and modern lines wrapped around energy-efficient techniques that mean utility bills as low as $5 per month.  In a state of annual climate changes such as Utah, that’s certainly impressive, and is made possible by solar or geothermal heating and cooling as a standard feature.  Consequently, these homes redefine the single-family home in ways that are both practical and aesthetic.

In Huntington Beach, CA, Christopher Homes tapped MSA Architects to create an attached project that varied its facades enough to emulate a high-density detached development.  By combining useful outdoor spaces, spacious common rooms and high-functioning kitchens, The Villas at Pacific Shores -- Grand Award winner for Attached Product within a suburban Setting – thus provides a luxury, attached home alternative in this coastal community of Orange County.

For the winner of the Attached Product in an Urban setting, judges decided upon the Drs. Julian and Raye Richardson Apartments, which offer short-term housing for homeless persons in transition.  Built in a part of downtown San Francisco damaged by the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, the unique exterior selected by architects David Baker + Partners has reportedly helped to re-energize a streetscape long dominated by much older buildings. In addition, a combination of gathering rooms, an on-site bakery providing job training and a green roof where residents can grow their own food helps to establish the project as much more than just a simple building.

In Irvine, CA, The New Home Company hired Robert Hidey Architects for The Hill at Lambert Ranch and won the top prize for detached housing in the newly created category of Multi-Generational Concepts.  By cleverly using landscaping and window placement, Residence One & Two provide privacy for individual family members while still allowing for a large, common space named, of course, the family compound.

But it was in San Francisco where developer Bridge Housing, working with David Baker + Partners, built Amstrong Place Senior and Family Housing, in the process winning the Grand Award for best attached Multi-Generational Concept.  Combining affordable flats for seniors with townhomes for growing families, the design’s primary focus was to eliminate any potential feelings of isolation for its older residents while still remaining interesting to younger ones.  That was achieved by plenty of landscaped public space and a patchwork of playful colors and patterns on the exterior to make it a neighborhood stand-out.

Finally, Meritage Homes’s Ragle Ranch in Santa Rosa, CA won the Grand Award for continuing to raise the bar for green homes among production homes.  With the latest construction techniques, these Meritage Homes are reportedly 39% more efficient than the already-high standards required by California.  Advanced ventilation design and low-emitting products throughout the house help to maintain indoor air quality, while both plumbing fixtures and outdoor landscaping are engineered for minimal water use.  Best of all, since their work was verified by third parties such as EnergyStar and GreenPoint Rated, customers get separate proof of a green home.

With new home projects such as these capturing the interest of buyers or renters and winning the plaudits of their peers in the building industry, I think it can be said that practical and efficient need not equal boring.  Best of all, these designs will provide a compelling alternative to older, more staid homes which, relatively speaking, hog both water and energy.

BuilderBytes' MetroIntelligence Economic Update for 7/20/12


Please click here to see the edition of BuilderBytes for 7/20/12 on the Web.

In this issue of the MetroIntelligence Economic Update, I covered the following indicators:
  • June housing starts up by 6.9% from May and 23.6% above June of 2011
  • June building permits fall by 3.7% from May but still 19.3% above June of 2011
  • Empire State Manufacturing Survey reports modest expansion in July
  • Business shipments in May down by 0.1% from April but still up by 6.1% since May 2011
  • Mortgage applications jump 17% in latest survey
Want to advertise in the newsletter and reach over 130,000 readers? Contact National Sales Manager Nick Cosan at nkosan@penpubinc.com.
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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

BuilderBytes' MetroIntelligence Economic Update for 7/18/12

Please click here to see the edition of BuilderBytes for 7/18/12 on the Web.

In this issue of the MetroIntelligence Economic Update, I covered the following indicators:
  • NAHB Housing Market Index surges to 35 in July
  • June retail sales dip from previous month bu 3.8% above same month of 2011
  • Industrial production rises by 0.4% in June after 0.2% decline in May
Want to advertise in the newsletter and reach over 130,000 readers? Contact National Sales Manager Nick Cosan at nkosan@penpubinc.com.
Want to make sure your company or event is included in the events calendar? Contact editor Dani Smith at dsmith@penpubinc.com.

Monday, July 16, 2012

BuilderBytes' MetroIntelligence Economic Update for 7/16/12

Please click here to see the edition of BuilderBytes for 7/16/12 on the Web.

In this issue of the MetroIntelligence Economic Update, I covered the following indicators:
  • Consumer sentiment index fell again in early June
  • Producer Price Index rose by 0.1% in June after previous months of decline
  • Federal government deficit totaled $60 billion in June
  • Both import and export prices fell more in June than in the previous month
Want to advertise in the newsletter and reach over 130,000 readers? Contact National Sales Manager Nick Cosan at nkosan@penpubinc.com.
Want to make sure your company or event is included in the events calendar? Contact editor Dani Smith at dsmith@penpubinc.com.

Friday, July 13, 2012

BuilderBytes' MetroIntelligence Economic Update for 7/13/12


Please click here to see the edition of BuilderBytes for 7/13/12 on the Web.

In this issue of the MetroIntelligence Economic Update, I covered the following indicators:
  • Federal Reserve meeting minutes suggest more action warranted if economy weakens
  • Wholesale sales in May up by 5.7% from same month of 2011; inventories up by 6.4%
  • Initial unemployment claims fall by 26,000 in latest report
  • Mortgage applications fall by 2.1% although purchase loans rise by 3% in latest survey
Want to advertise in the newsletter and reach over 130,000 readers? Contact National Sales Manager Nick Cosan at nkosan@penpubinc.com.
Want to make sure your company or event is included in the events calendar? Contact editor Dani Smith at dsmith@penpubinc.com.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

BuilderBytes' MetroIntelligence Economic Update for 7/11/12

Please click here to see the edition of BuilderBytes for 7/11/12 on the Web.

In this issue of the MetroIntelligence Economic Update, I covered the following indicators:
  • Improving Markets Index shows increase in July
  • Consumer credit in May up by largest amount since December 2011
Want to advertise in the newsletter and reach over 130,000 readers? Contact National Sales Manager Nick Cosan at nkosan@penpubinc.com.
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Monday, July 9, 2012

BuilderBytes' MetroIntelligence Economic Update for 7/09/12

Please click here to see the edition of BuilderBytes for 7/09/12 on the Web.

In this issue of the MetroIntelligence Economic Update, I covered the following indicators:

  • Nonfarm payroll rose by 80,000 jobs in June
  • Non-manufacturing sectors grew slower in June
  • Mortgage applications fall for second consecutive week, new purchase loans edge up
Want to advertise in the newsletter and reach over 130,000 readers? Contact National Sales Manager Nick Cosan at nkosan@penpubinc.com.
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Friday, July 6, 2012

BuilderBytes' MetroIntelligence Economic Update for 7/6/12


Please click here to see the edition of BuilderBytes for 7/6/12 on the Web.

In this issue of the MetroIntelligence Economic Update, I covered the following indicators:
  • Planned layoffs fell to 13-month low in June
  • Private-sector employment rose by 176,000 jobs from May to June
  • Construction spending in May rose by 0.9% from April and by 7.0% from May 2011
  • Factory orders rose by 0.7% in May
Want to advertise in the newsletter and reach over 130,000 readers? Contact National Sales Manager Nick Cosan at nkosan@penpubinc.com.
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Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Independence Day from Housing Chronicles

We here at The Housing Chronicles Blog and MetroIntelligence would like wish our clients, colleagues and friends a very Happy Fourth of July! 

Variously known as the Fourth of July and Independence Day, July 4th has been a federal holiday in the United States since 1941, but the tradition of Independence Day celebrations goes back to the 18th century and the American Revolution (1775-83).

In June 1776, representatives of the 13 colonies then fighting in the revolutionary struggle weighed a resolution that would declare their independence from Great Britain. On July 2nd, the Continental Congress voted in favor of independence, and two days later its delegates adopted the Declaration of Independence, a historic document drafted by Thomas Jefferson. From 1776 until the present day, July 4th has been celebrated as the birth of American independence, with typical festivities ranging from fireworks, parades and concerts to more casual family gatherings and barbecues.

Early Fourth of July Celebrations

In the pre-Revolutionary years, colonists had held annual celebrations of the king's birthday, which traditionally included the ringing of bells, bonfires, processions and speechmaking. By contrast, during the summer of 1776 some colonists celebrated the birth of independence by holding mock funerals for King George III, as a way of symbolizing the end of the monarchy's hold on America and the triumph of liberty. Festivities including concerts, bonfires, parades and the firing of cannons and muskets usually accompanied the first public readings of the Declaration of Independence, beginning immediately after its adoption. Philadelphia held the first annual commemoration of independence on July 4, 1777, while Congress was still occupied with the ongoing war. George Washington issued double rations of rum to all his soldiers to mark the anniversary of independence in 1778, and in 1781, several months before the key American victory at Yorktown, Massachusetts became the first state to make July 4th an official state holiday.

After the Revolutionary War, Americans continued to commemorate Independence Day every year, in celebrations that allowed the new nation's emerging political leaders to address citizens and create a feeling of unity. By the last decade of the 18th century, the two major political parties--Federalists and Democratic-Republicans--that had arisen began holding separate Independence Day celebrations in many large cities.

July 4th Becomes A National Holiday

The tradition of patriotic celebration became even more widespread after the War of 1812, in which the United States again faced Great Britain. In 1870, the U.S. Congress made July 4th a federal holiday; in 1941, the provision was expanded to grant a paid holiday to all federal employees. Over the years, the political importance of the holiday would decline, but Independence Day remained an important national holiday and a symbol of patriotism.

Falling in mid-summer, the Fourth of July has since the late 19th century become a major focus of leisure activities and a common occasion for family get-togethers, often involving fireworks and outdoor barbecues. The most common symbol of the holiday is the American flag, and a common musical accompaniment is "The Star-Spangled Banner," the national anthem of the United States.

Source:  History.com

Monday, July 2, 2012

BuilderBytes' MetroIntelligence Economic Update for 7/02/12

Please click here to see the edition of BuilderBytes for 7/02/12 on the Web.

In this issue of the MetroIntelligence Economic Update, I covered the following indicators:

  • Consumer spending fell slightly in May as personal income rose
  • Consumer confidence dips in June, mostly for households earning more than $75,000
  • ISM-Chicago PMI barometer shows unexpected business expansion in June
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