Real Estate Center Online News

May 22, 2012

State Government Job Cuts Continue

COLLEGE STATION (Real Estate Center) – All Texas industries had more jobs in April 2012 than in April 2011, according to the Real Estate Center's latest Monthly Review of the Texas Economy, but the state’s government sector continues to lose jobs.

The decrease for the 12-month period was 2.9 percent, which translated to 54,500 government jobs.

The state’s mining and logging industry ranked first in job creation, adding 32,500 jobs, followed by the leisure and hospitality industry (43,800) and the other services industry (13,900).

Texas’ economy gained 212,500 nonagricultural jobs during the period, an annual growth rate of 2 percent compared with 1.3 percent for the United States. The state’s nongovernment sector added 267,000 jobs, an annual growth rate of 3.1 percent compared with 1.8 percent for the nation’s private sector.

Texas’ seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to 6.9 percent in April 2012 from 8 percent in April 2011. The nation’s rate decreased from 9 to 8.1 percent.

All Texas metro areas except Wichita Falls, Abilene, College Station-Bryan, Victoria and Longview had more jobs in April 2012 than in April 2011. Odessa ranked first in job creation followed by Laredo, Corpus Christi, Tyler and Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown.

Developer Kicks off ‘Stonehenge’ Transformation

DALLAS (Dallas Morning News) – A stalled 25-year-old project in Dallas’ Arts District that left concrete beams and walls cluttering the property could finally enter the modern age.

Developer Craig Hall is planning a 16-story office building and 29-story residential tower on Flora St., across from the Meyerson Symphony Center. The site, which neighbors jokingly call “Stonehenge,” has been a mess of leftover concrete and steel after a Chicago firm that planned two office skyscrapers abandoned the project in the 1980s.

Hall purchased the two parcels, along with a smaller property on Ross St., for $10.5 million back in 1995. He has been working on a new design with architect HKS Inc.

With about 2,000 underground parking spaces already built by its former owners, Hall hopes to have the 450,000-sf office tower complete by late 2014 or early 2015, with the residential tower to start afterward.

JV Goes Luxe in Farmers Branch

FARMERS BRANCH (Dallas Business Journal) – A luxury Farmers Branch apartment community has been purchased by a joint venture for an undisclosed amount.

Portofino Luxury Apartments, a 224-unit complex at 11601 Lago Vista, was acquired as an investment by Illinois-based The Marquette Companies and California-based American Realty Advisors.

The Marquette Companies will manage the Class-A property built in 2008.

Emerson Moves ‘Round the Way

AUSTIN (Austin Business Journal) – In a move that took 4,200 labor hours, six trucks and a crew of 44 movers, Emerson Process Management has pushed north from Austin to its new international headquarters in Round Rock.

The automation technology firm is now housed in the Frontera Vista complex, with 800 employees occupying 250,000 sf in two buildings at 1100 W. Louis Henna Blvd.

Emerson received $1.75 million in incentives for the move, including from Williamson County, the City of Round Rock and the Round Rock Chamber of Commerce.

U.S. Home Starts Rise

WASHINGTON (National Association of Home Builders) – April housing starts moved upward, sending an encouraging message to builders, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).

Nationally, housing production jumped 2.6 percent over revised numbers from March, to 717,000 units. NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe believes that increase is “very solid for this point of the [economic] recovery.”

Regionally, the South posted the highest gain in home starts, at 11.6 percent, while the Northeast had the sharpest decline at 20.7 percent.

The number of building permits issued, however, fell 7 percent to an adjusted rate of 715,000 units in April. The loss was entirely on the "more volatile" multifamily side, NAHB reports.

Historic SA Hotel Purchased

SAN ANTONIO (San Antonio Express-News) – The historic St. Anthony Riverwalk Wyndham, a 103-year-old landmark hotel in downtown San Antonio, has been purchased after two years of financial struggles.

Locally based BC Lynd Hospitality purchased the hotel at 300 E. Travis St., and plans to invest $24 million in renovations beginning this summer.

“The city has laid out an aggressive plan for revitalization and resurgence in downtown San Antonio. So we’ve bought into the city’s vision to make it an attractive place,” said BC Lynd CEO Brandon Raney.

Work on the hotel is expected to be complete by late 2013.

Housing Market Sizzles for Austin Sellers

AUSTIN (Austin Board of Realtors, Austin American-Statesman) – Home sales and median home values continue to climb in Austin, and real estate experts say the local market has turned back to the seller’s favor.

According to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) report by the Austin Board of Realtors, 1,949 homes were sold in the Austin region in April, up 16 percent over the same month last year. The median home price jumped 9 percent over last April to $212,000.

Meanwhile, home inventory has declined to 4.4 months, which is 2.3 months less than last year. Those fewer homes are spending fewer days on the market as well: just 67 days in April 2012, three weeks shorter than a year ago.

Tim Ellis, real estate analyst for Seattle-based brokerage firm Redfin, acknowledges that Austin is “no longer a buyer’s market.” Redfin found that roughly one in four Austin area homes are selling in three days or less.

Dallas Firm Crosses Into FW Retail Market

NORTH RICHLAND HILLS (Fort Worth Star-Telegram) – Centennial Real Estate Co. has purchased another Fort Worth-area retail center.

The Dallas-based commercial real estate firm bought The Crossing, a 247,720-sf shopping center at Precinct Line Rd. and Grapevine Hwy. in North Richland Hills.

Centennial president Steve Levin announced plans to renovate the property and bring in additional retailers to the 12-year-old center. The Crossing is anchored by a Kroger Signature grocery store and Kohl’s department store.

Lexus Dealer Parks in Plano

PLANO (Dallas Morning News) – Park Place Lexus is breaking ground on its new Plano dealership.

The new 170,000-sf building will be on 27.5 acres at the corner of Spring Creek Pkwy. and Dallas North Tollway, doubling the size of its current location 3.5 miles away on Preston Rd.

The facility should be complete by fall 2013.

Housing Affordability Breaks Recent Record

WASHINGTON (National Association of Home Builders) – Housing affordability is at an all-time high, although credit restrictions make buying difficult.

For the second consecutive quarter, more families earning the national median income can afford to buy a home. According to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index (HOI), 77.5 percent of all new and existing homes sold during the first quarter were affordable to families earning $65,000, the U.S. median income. This beats the previous record set in fourth quarter 2011.

The most affordable housing market in Texas was Wichita Falls, ranked 54th nationally. There, 88.6 percent of homes sold were affordable to those earning the area’s median income of $55,800.

The most affordable large U.S. market was Indianapolis-Carmel, Ind., where 95.8 percent of homes sold were affordable to median income households. New York-White Plains-Wayne, N.Y.-N.J. remains the least affordable market, with only 31.5 percent of homes sold in the first quarter affordable to median income households.

Note to Sellers: Hide Those Prescription Drugs

WACO (Waco Tribune-Herald) – Home sellers are often cautioned to hide valuables such as jewelry and small electronics from house shoppers, but a recent incident could indicate a new target for theft.

A bottle of painkillers that went missing after a home was shown to prospective buyers in Waco is leading real estate agents to advise sellers to hide prescription drugs in a safe place.

It seems the reported Waco theft is no isolated incident. Reports have surfaced of a Dallas-area man visiting homes for sale in search of prescription medications. Reports of similar thefts have been found across the country.

Eric Zadnik, who serves on the board of the Waco Association of Realtors, is alerting his clients to hide valuables and medications in a safe place.

Major Multifamily Merger Announced

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Commercial Property Executive) – A marriage made in multifamily heaven? Summit Housing Partners LLC and Bailey Properties LLC seem to think so.

The two companies have merged to form BSR Trust LLC, a $1 billion multifamily housing company with 18,689 apartment units in ten states.

According to the BSR Trust website, 22 of its properties are in Texas, including both market-rate and affordable units in Austin, Dallas, Houston, Longview and San Antonio. The company has announced plans to expand in the Dallas and Houston markets.

News, News and More News

COLLEGE STATION (Real Estate Center) – Want more news? Then check out NewsTalk Texas, our online real estate news database. Here's some of what you'll find this week:

NewsTalk Texas is updated each weekday, throughout the day.

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