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HIGHLIGHTS

Market Data: Backtracking US lawmakers expand federal role in mortgages
Economy: Business activity, home sales in US beat forecasts
Financing: Record low mortgage rates haven't rescued housing
Affordable Housing: Atlanta awarded $3.5 million for affordable housing
Legal Notes: Lovejoy lawsuit settled, allowing Boston waterfront development



TOP STORY
By Patrick S. Duffy

Pending home sales in November rose to highest level in 19 months
Pending home sales continued to gain in November and reached the highest level in 19 months, according to the National Association of Realtors®. The Pending Home Sales Index a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, increased 7.3 percent to 100.1 in November from an upwardly revised 93.3 in October and is 5.9 percent above November 2010 when it stood at 94.5. The October upward revision resulted in a 10.4 percent monthly gain. The last time the index was higher was in April 2010 when it reached 111.5 as buyers rushed to beat the deadline for the home buyer tax credit. The data reflects contracts but not closings.


METROINTELLIGENCE ECONOMIC UPDATE
By Patrick S. Duffy

Initial unemployment claims rise by 15,000
In the week ending December 24, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 381,000, an increase of 15,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 366,000. The 4-week moving average was 375,000, a decrease of 5,750 from the previous week's revised average of 380,750.

Chicago PMI stabilizes in December
The Chicago Purchasing Managers reported the December Chicago Business Barometer stabilized near November's 7-month high and marked a 27th month of expansion. Business Activity: Prices paid rebounded from November's 14-month low; employment erased November's deceleration; order backlogs expanded to its highest level since April 2011; production, new orders edged off November's 7-and 8-month highs, respectively. Buying Policy: Production material, MRO supplies, capital equipment all declined to multi-month lows.


The MetroIntelligence Economic Update is provided to BuilderBytes by MetroIntelligence Real Estate & Economic Advisors.


MARKET DATA

PulteGroup sells home building land in Colorado to Wheelock Street Capital
Bloomberg
PulteGroup Inc., the largest U.S. homebuilder by revenue, sold a 1,700-acre master-planned community north of Denver to Wheelock Street Capital LLC. The all-cash transaction is for the remaining developed lots and undeveloped land in the Anthem, Colorado, development, which is approved for about 1,500 homes, the Bloomfield Hills, Michigan-based company said in a statement today. PulteGroup didn’t disclose the transaction’s value.

Sag in Manhattan market
The Wall Street Journal
Despite the glitter of an $88 million deal for a penthouse on Central Park, fewer non-billionaires stepped up to buy Manhattan apartments during the fourth quarter, driving sales down sharply and causing median prices to slip as well. Condominium sales, which made up a growing share of sales during the real-estate boom, plunged more than co-op sales, according to an analysis of city deed records by The Wall Street Journal. Condominiums priced under $1 million fell the most.

Developer of the Year: The New Home Company
Builder and Developer
The New Home Company is cultivated in the commitment to rebuild home building right down to how homes are designed, sold and lived-in and creates developments with distinct characteristics. The New Home Company (TNHC) is indeed a new company — founded by four of the most respected leaders, Larry Webb, Joseph Davis, Wayne Stelmar and Tom Redwitz, with more than 30 years of experience in residential development. They are rebuilding home building, right down to how homes are designed, sold and lived-in. For their commitment to leading the future of successful developments, the Aliso-Viejo-based company is named our “Developer of the Year.”


AFFORDABLE HOUSING

Story poles go up for proposed Solana Beach affordable housing project
Del Mar Times
Workers installed story poles this week at a city-owned parking lot on South Sierra Avenue in Solana Beach, where a developer wants to build a 10-unit affordable housing project called The Pearl for low-income residents. About 50 poles will be erected to illustrate the contours of the project, which would include apartments ranging in size from one- to four-bedroom units, said Solana Beach City Manager David Ott. A city-owned public parking lot will be temporarily closed while the story poles are in place, Ott said. Members of the public will have 30 days to comment on the project before it is considered by either a city advisory committee that looks at view issues, or sent directly to the Solana Beach City Council. If approved, the project would help satisfy a state requirement that Solana Beach provide 151 units of affordable housing by 2020, Ott said.

Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta to award $3.5 million for affordable housing in North Carolina
MarketWatch
Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta (FHLBank Atlanta) announced today that it will award $3.5 million to assist in funding six affordable housing developments in North Carolina. The funding is part of $37.6 million FHLBank Atlanta will award in 15 states and the District of Columbia to create or preserve 3,922 units of affordable housing. FHLBank Atlanta will award the funds as part of its 2011 Affordable Housing Program (AHP) offering. Local community developers, in partnership with FHLBank Atlanta member institutions, will use the funding to build or repair 509 affordable rental and ownership housing units in the counties of Moore and Richmond and the cities of Charlotte, Concord, Durham, Fayetteville, and Yadkinville.


ECONOMY

Business activity, home sales in US beat forecasts
Bloomberg
Companies cranked out more goods in December and pending sales of existing homes jumped in November for a second month, pointing to a pickup in U.S. economic growth as 2011 comes to a close. The Institute for Supply Management-Chicago Inc. said today its business barometer was little changed at 62.5 from a seven- month high of 62.6 in November. The index of signed contracts to buy previously owned houses rose 7.3 percent after climbing 10.4 percent the prior month, the National Association of Realtors said. Both figures surpassed the median estimate of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News.

Consumer confidence surges in December as shoppers feel better about US economy
The Washington Post
Americans are gaining faith that the economy is on the upswing. An improving job outlook helped the Consumer Confidence Index soar to the highest level since April and near a post-recession peak, according to a monthly survey by The Conference Board. The second straight monthly surge coincided with a decent holiday shopping season for retailers, though stores had to heavily discount to attract shoppers. The rise in confidence jibes with a better outlook for the overall economy. An Associated Press poll of three dozen private, corporate and academic economists projects U.S. economic growth will speed up in 2012, if it isn’t derailed by upheavals in Europe.


FINANCING

Freddie Mac: Record low mortgage rates haven't rescued housing
Los Angeles Times
Lenders were offering 30-year fixed-rate mortgages to solid borrowers at an average of 3.95 percent, according to Freddie Mac, the ninth consecutive week of rates at or below 4 percent. That wrapped up a year of record lows for the survey, which dates back to 1971. In 1981 and 1982, the average 30-year mortgage carried an interest rate of more than 16 percent, and the typical rate was above 8 percent as recently as 2000, Freddie Mac said. This past year, the average was 4.45 percent. Despite the record low rates, applications for mortgages to buy homes dropped as the year ended, even after seasonal adjustments, the latest Mortgage Bankers Association survey found. Even the demand for refinance mortgages, which accounted for more than 80 percent of all applications, fell slightly.


GREEN BUILDING

Old school site could become green housing
KIMT
A former school site could soon be home to energy efficient housing At their meeting Tuesday, the Charles City City Council will vote to buy the exclusive purchasing rights to the old Jefferson School site. The city wants to turn it into a "net zero" housing division. That means the homes would create as much energy as they use. “For the price of one dollar we're purchasing the exclusive right to buy the property for the next year and there’s a set price $25.000 and this can only be exercised for this project,” said Tom Brownlow, city administrator. Jefferson School closed in 2005 and the building was demolished earlier this year. Brownlow says the site is attractive for housing because of existing water, sewer and streets.

Custom-made inspiration delivers island-essence
Options for Today’s Fine Homes
This Sarasota, Fla. residence fashions certified, energy-efficient performance with a luxurious Caribbean charisma. It all started with a pen, paper and a little inspirational drawing out of Coastal Living magazine. Tom and Rose Costello, the owners and developers of Trade Winds in Sarasota, Fla., brought the enthusiasm of the Caribbean to life with their LEED Platinum certified home that brings the element of the outdoors in. Spotlighting this theme is the 100-year-old Benjamina Ficus tree that is settled in the home's front exterior, whose canopy extends over the entire front lot. "The goal from day one was to build an energy-efficient home with style and classic design elements... I firmly believe that good design pays for itself," the Costello's said.


LAND USE/PLANNING

PulteGroup sells home building land in Colorado to Wheelock Street Capital
Bloomberg
PulteGroup Inc., the largest U.S. homebuilder by revenue, sold a 1,700-acre master-planned community north of Denver to Wheelock Street Capital LLC. The all-cash transaction is for the remaining developed lots and undeveloped land in the Anthem, Colorado, development, which is approved for about 1,500 homes, the Bloomfield Hills, Michigan-based company said in a statement today. PulteGroup didn’t disclose the transaction’s value.

Mixed-use project coming to Georgia Avenue
Washington Business Journal
The Neighborhood Development Co. latest from CityCenter’s ‘last piece of the puzzle’ for downtown D.C. Qatar fund starts CityCenter project with 0M investment CityCenter DC groundbreaking April 4 Follow this company and Mi Casa Inc. have secured capital for a residential and retail project on the Heights on Georgia Avenue, Citybizlist reported. Construction will begin in January. Located at 3232 Georgia Ave., the 95,000-square-foot residential building will have 69 apartments with a 10,000-square-foot street-level section of retail. The developers' financial partners are the D.C. Housing Finance Agency, D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development, D.C. Deputy Mayor's office for Planning and Economic Development, Citi Community Capital, Wells Fargo Affordable Housing Community Development Corp. and Enterprise Community Loan Fund.

Roy E. Disney's fund planning condos on Miami Beach
South Florida Business Journal
A group that includes members of Roy E. Disney’s investment fund Shamrock Holdings is planning a 70-unit condo on Miami Beach. Developer Palau Sunset Harbor has paid for public notices that announce it will make its case before a Miami Beach Planning Board on Jan. 24. The five-story condominium would be built on an assemblage that includes Mark’s Quality Cleaners, at 1201 20th St. a 15,000-square-foot building constructed in 1947. The project comprises 43 units with 500 to 999 square feet, 12 units with 1,000 to 1,200 square feet, and 15 units with more than 1,200 square feet, according to Condo Vultures, which examined plans for it filed with the Miami Beach Planning Department. It includes 13,100 square feet of ground floor commercial space. The developer paid a combined $8.2 million, or $150 a square foot, for the parcels, according to public records.


LEGAL NOTES

Lovejoy lawsuit settled, allowing Boston waterfront development
Boston Business Journal
Three years after a lawsuit by abutters halted construction of a $200 million luxury condominium project on Boston Harbor, the suit has been settled, allowing the development to proceed. Twenty-one residents of Strada234, an upscale development near the TD Garden TD Garden Latest from The Business Journals Lovejoy lawsuit settled, allowing Boston waterfront development. TD Garden owner to sell development rights for apt towerTD Garden owner to sell development rights for apt tower Follow this company , filed suit to overturn an amendment to the Municipal Harbor Plan that allowed Lovejoy Wharf to be built by Lexington-based Ajax Management Partners at 155 feet, up from 55 feet. A second lawsuit sought to overturn a Zoning Board of Appeal decision to allow construction of an eight-story automated garage.


SENIOR HOUSING

Senior care technology review: Mobile data charting, Telecare and 2012 Trends
Senior Housing News
The senior care industry is becoming more and more progressive as it continues to utilize new developments in technology to provide better and more efficient care. Senior Housing News has rounded up some new products and platforms along with an end-of-the-year technology article that wraps up 2011 and lists trends that are worth following in the coming year.

Ohio sets the bar low for nursing home care quality improvement
Senior Housing News
Ohio legislators are aiming to improve the quality of care provided in state nursing homes through new requirements that will affect the amount of Medicaid reimbursement they receive, but some administrators think the standards are too easy to meet, reports Cincinnati.com. Senate Bill 264, sponsored by state senator Shannon Jones, ties higher reimbursements to 20 new quality measures. However, nursing homes only have to meet five of those measures in order to get a higher daily reimbursement, and some say that this isn’t much of a challenge.

Texas-sized senior living
50+ Builder
This Mansfield, Texas master-planned, senior community offers its 55 and up residents a place with an attention to detail, livability and personal needs. Bound with a strong recommendation, Richard E. Simmons, president of Integrated Construction & Development, L.P., and Waterview at Mansfield Investors, L.P., as well as the builder, developer and owner of Watercrest at Mansfield, was called upon by the Mayor of Mansfield to deliver senior housing within Mansfield, Texas. Alongside the independent living center was built the senior assisted-living, memory care and skilled nursing center of Isle at Watercrest, where Simmons served as both the builder and general contractor. "The community of Mansfield needed quality senior housing and the end result two years later has been a vibrant development with over 300 residents," Simmons said.


Foshay Electric Co.: Since 1947, Foshay Electric Co., Inc.’s ability to branch out to residential, commercial and industrial sectors for electrical, engineering and contracting assignments illustrates their company philosophy of not only advancing with market demands, but setting precedents for the industry. Foshay ensures properly-trained and educated employees to uphold the company name, alongside attention to detail, field knowledge, experience and custom-tailored services.
www.foshavelectric.com

CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE!

CALENDAR OF EVENTS

CLICK ON THE EVENT LINK TO BE TAKEN DIRECTLY TO EVENT'S WEBSITE
Mar 6 Building Energy 12
www.nesea.org
Boston, MA
Mar 8 Hard Hat Expo
www.hardhatexpo.com
Syracuse, NY
Mar 8 Mountain States Lumber and Building Materials Edition
www.mslbmda.org
Denver, CO
Mar 13 Safe Building Expo
www.biztradeshows.net
Baltimore, MD
Mar 15 RCI International Convention and Trade show
www.rci-online.org
Dallas, TX
Mar 21 JLC Live Residential Construction Show
www.newengland.jlclive.com
Providence, RI
Mar 22 Architectural Digest Home Design Trade Show
www.archdigesthomeshow.com
New York City, NY
Apr 18 Intex Expo 12
www.intexconstructionexpo.com
Charlotte, NC


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