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HIGHLIGHTS

Market Data: City Ventures takes on 11 new projects
Economy: HUD proposed fiscal year 2013 budget
Financing: Credit conditions are hindering recovery
Green Building: Active-adult community wins national housing honors
Legal Notes: Wells Fargo directors must face foreclosure claims



TOP STORY

Multifamily to top US construction advances
Bloomberg
Construction of multifamily units will lead the U.S. building industry again this year, allowing housing to contribute to growth for the first time in seven years, according to economists Michelle Meyer and Celia Chen. Work will begin on about 260,000 apartment buildings and townhouse developments in 2012, up 45 percent from last year and the most since 2008, according to Meyer, a senior economist at Bank of America Corp. Chen, an economist at Moody’s Analytics, Inc., is even more optimistic, projecting record 74 percent jumps to 310,000. Homeownership rates, which have declined to the lowest levels since 1998, may keep dropping as the foreclosure crisis turns more Americans into renters.


METROINTELLIGENCE ECONOMIC UPDATE
By Patrick S. Duffy

Retail sales in January rise by 0.4 percent from previous month and 5.8 percent from same month of 2011
The U.S. Census Bureau announced today that advance estimates of U.S. retail and food services sales for January, adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes, were $401.4 billion, an increase of 0.4 percent from the previous month and 5.8 percent above January 2011. Total sales for the November 2011 through January 2012 period were up 6.3 percent from the same period a year ago. The November to December 2011 percent change was revised from 0.1 percent to virtually unchanged.

Trade deficit rises slightly in December as both imports and exports rise
The U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, through the Department of Commerce, announced that total December exports of $178.8 billion and imports of $227.6 billion resulted in a goods and services deficit of $48.8 billion, up from $47.1 billion in November, revised. December exports were $1.2 billion more than November exports of $177.5 billion. December imports were $3.0 billion more than November imports of $224.6 billion.

Business inventories rose less than sales in December
A gain in U.S. business inventories trailed the improvement in sales in December, showing companies may continue to restock shelves and warehouses in early 2012. The 0.4 percent increase in stockpiles followed a 0.3 percent advance the prior month, Commerce Department data showed today in Washington. The median projection in a Bloomberg News survey called for a 0.5 percent rise. Sales climbed 0.7 percent, the most since July.

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


MARKET DATA

City Ventures takes on 11 new projects
City Ventures
In the fourth quarter of 2011 alone, CV Communities and CV Residences took control of 11 new projects totaling 782 units, with anticipated revenue of approximately $209 million. With these recent successes, City Ventures now owns and controls over 6,280 lots. When complete, these residences are anticipated to generate revenue exceeding $2.7 billion. City Ventures is honored to now be a part of 10 different cities across California where it is progressing with development and building plans. “All of us at City Ventures feel a tremendous amount of pride around both the quantity and quality of deals executed by our Land Acquisition team during 2011,” noted Mark Buckland, CEO of City Ventures.

Home builder’s leadership elected for 2012
NAHB
Members of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) elected four senior officers to top leadership positions within the federation during the association’s International Builders’ Show in Orlando. With more than 800 affiliated state and local home builders associations and more than 140,000 members across the country, NAHB is the “voice of the housing industry,” representing the interests of the nation’s housing professionals through advocacy, education and research. Taking the helm as NAHB’s Chairman of the Board this year is Barry Rutenberg, a Gainesville, Fla.-based home builder with more than 35 years of experience in the building industry. Rutenberg is president of Barry Rutenberg and Associates, Inc., and his firm has developed more than a dozen communities and 1,000 homes in the Gainesville area.

Southeast Michigan housing market shows improvement
Loan Safe
House sales and median sale prices in southeast Michigan showed healthy increases in January compared with a year ago, signaling that southeast Michigan’s battered housing market may be improving. Realcomp II reported that the number of home sales in Wayne, Oakland, Macomb and Livingston counties rose 7 percent in January from the same month a year ago. Median sale prices for houses and condominiums in the same four counties increased to $63,150 in January from $60,000 a year before, a rise of 5.3 percent. In another sign of a market warming up, the average number of days a house spent on the market in all the areas it tracks, decreased in January by seven days from 96 to 89 compared with the same month the year before.


AFFORDABLE HOUSING

School to be reborn as affordable housing
NY1
P.S. 109 in East Harlem was a public school built back in 1902 which was permanently closed over a decade ago after it started to fall into disrepair. Now, the abandoned eyesore is about to get a new lease on life. It will soon be transformed into 90 affordable housing units that will range from studios to two bedrooms. Rents will run from $600-$1,100 dollars per month. Five units will serve as space for arts and cultural related non-profits and the building will also offer various amenities for the community. The building has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places, which means much if its architectural significance and history will be preserved in its new life. The project is $50 million and will be ready for occupancy by early 2014.


ECONOMY

HUD proposed fiscal year 2013 budget
HUD
U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan unveiled HUD’s fiscal year 2013 budget proposal. Titled Housing and Communities Built to Last, the budget reflects the President’s vision of an America that can draw strength from its vibrant communities and momentum from a robust housing market. Read HUD’s proposed FY 2013 budget. “As the President made clear in his State of the Union address, this is a make or break moment for the middle class– both for those who are in it and for those who aspire to it,” said Donovan. The Administration’s overall budget outlines the President’s commitment to ensuring every American gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same rules.


FINANCING

Bureau released monthly mortgage statement prototype
Los Angeles Times
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau released an early draft of a new proposed monthly mortgage statement for consumers that provide clear information about the loan on a single page from their servicer. The prototype includes the outstanding principal on the loan, the maturity date, any prepayment penalty and the next date on which the interest rate could change. It also features a breakdown of the monthly payment and a phone number to contact the servicer. “This information will help consumers stay on top of their mortgage costs and hold their mortgage servicers accountable for fixing errors that crop up," said Richard Cordray, the agency's director. "Given the widespread mortgage servicing problems we’ve seen over the past few years, consumers need clear disclosures they can count on.”

Credit conditions are hindering recovery
NAHB
Restraints on credit for homebuyers and home builders alike continue to impede the housing and economic recovery, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said in an address to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Board of Directors in Orlando. "Banks remain reluctant to make loans, both to mortgage borrowers and home builders,” said Bernanke, who noted that current credit conditions are too tight for the financial system, for the construction industry and the economy. The Fed chairman said that his message to regulators is for them to take a balanced approach and to approve loans for those who meet sound underwriting standards. “Do not turn away creditworthy borrowers, and that includes home builders,” he said.

Foreclosure deal could aid in budgets
Bloomberg
Wisconsin plans to use part of its $140 million share of the national foreclosure settlement to fill a budget hole. Missouri would devote $40 million for education. Ohio wants to tear down vacant homes. Ninety percent of the $25 billion settlement announced Feb. 9 goes to borrowers, with states receiving at least $2.66 billion, said Geoff Greenwood, a spokesman for Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller. The money for states is to “help fund consumer protection and state foreclosure-protection efforts,” according to the National Mortgage Settlement website, though states have discretion in spending, and their tax bases and budgets were hurt by the housing crash, Greenwood said. Most states will probably spend the money on related purposes instead of priorities that the public may not see as fitting the settlement’s spirit.


GREEN BUILDING

Green homes currently hold a $17 billion market
Jetson Green
Green homes comprised 17 percent, or $17 billion, of the overall residential construction market in 2011, according to new findings in the Green Home Builders and Remodelers Study by McGraw-Hill Construction. Mc-Graw Hill predicts green homes will gain market share over the next few years to between 29 to 38 percent of the market by 2016 — a market that could equate to $87 billion to $114 billion by these forecasts. Additionally, 34 percent of remodelers expect to be doing mostly green work by 2016. Factors that contribute to the growth of the green homes market include “higher quality” and “increases in energy costs,” while obstacles continue to be “higher perceived first costs” and “lack of consumer education.” Builders guesstimate that the premium to build green is about 7 percent.

Active-adult community wins national housing honors
The Sacramento Bee
CantaMia, the innovative active adult community in Goodyear, Ariz., has earned two prestigious awards from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). The community was presented with top award for "Best For Sale Community Over 200 Homes" and the silver award for "Best Green Community" at the NAHB International Builders Show in Orlando, Fla. The competition was sponsored by the NAHB 50+ Housing Council, which serves NAHB members involved in all aspects of 50+ housing. "We are extremely honored to have CantaMia win two significant NAHB awards, being judged against our competitors nationwide. This recognition of our commitment to create something fresh for the Baby Boomers marching toward retirement is very meaningful in this competitive industry," said Carl Mulac, President of Avatar Properties, Inc., the community builder and developer.


LAND USE/PLANNING

Plans for retail and student housing take shape
Central Wisconsin Business
The Stevens Point Finance Committee wanted more of a guarantee from developers that they would include retail as part of a proposed student housing complex. The committee voted to give Stevens Point Housing Solutions 30 instead of 36 months to build two retail buildings as part of a proposed 29-unit student housing complex. The shorter time frame is meant to speed up development on the retail buildings, which committee members want because Division Street is a commercial corridor. The committee also would require Stevens Point Housing Solutions to put up a $75,000 security deposit on the site to make sure the developer builds the retail spots. The original agreement required a $50,000 deposit. The first phase of the $4 million project would house about 100 students at full capacity.

School could be converted to senior housing
Patch
The town council is considering converting Parker Memorial School into senior housing, according to a discussion at the school board meeting. Superintendent William Guzman included Parker School in the meeting agenda so that board members are aware of the potential changes. Guzman said that the board would have to return the "use and control" of the school to the town so the town may more easily apply for potential funds. According to the school board agenda, town staff members and David Berto of Housing Enterprises, Inc., have looked at the unoccupied portion of the site and determined that more than 40 units could be developed. In the town council's agenda, the council will vote to set a public hearing on a proposed contract with the non-profit organization, The Access Agency.

Santa Monica Denny’s sold to housing developer
Los Angeles Times
A Denny's restaurant in Santa Monica has been sold for $11.25 million to a prominent developer known for building apartments in dense urban neighborhoods. The property lies near the planned terminus of a Metro Rail train line expected to connect Santa Monica and downtown Los Angeles by 2016 and is in a new mixed-use pedestrian district identified by the city. The parcel carries the price of more than $300 per square foot matched land prices in the area during the real estate market's 2007 peak. Its latest lease will expire in 2013. A specific design has not been selected for the Denny's site, Jim Andersen of NMS said, but he expects to propose a mixed-use building with shops on the ground floor and housing above.


LEGAL NOTES

Inadequacies with foreclosure settlement
PRNewswire
As of today, City Life/Vida Urbana does not recognize the multi-state Attorney Generals' foreclosure bank settlement as a solution to the foreclosure crisis. Although the foreclosure settlement between five of the nation's largest banks and government authorities acknowledges the need for principal reduction, the settlement is just a small step forward and will not come close to doing what is needed to make this crisis end. This means the grassroots movement to stop foreclosures and the push to hold banks accountable aren't going away. We know that resetting underwater loans to real value is the only thing that will work to end the foreclosure crisis and get the economy going again, and there are several things wrong with the current settlement.

Wells Fargo directors must face foreclosure claims
Bloomberg
Directors of Wells Fargo & Co., the largest U.S. mortgage lender, must face investors’ claims the bank failed to properly disclose details of its foreclosure practices to government investigators, a judge ruled. U.S. District Judge Susan Illston in San Francisco rejected Wells Fargo’s request to dismiss shareholders’ allegations that directors wrongfully failed to disclose their opposition to a government probe of the bank’s mortgage lending and foreclosure policies. “The fact that the company was allegedly stymieing the government regulators is certainly material to stockholders when considering whether to authorize a more serious internal investigation,” Illston said in Feb. 9 ruling. Wells Fargo and four other banks reached a $25 billion settlement with state and federal officials to end a probe of abusive foreclosure practices stemming from the housing collapse.


SENIOR HOUSING

Lancaster Long Home to be renovated for senior living
Central Penn Business Journal
The former Long Home building in Lancaster is no longer for sale and will be redeveloped by its York County-based owner, a company spokesman said. The building has been listed for sale at $2.9 million for about a year, campus administrator Paul Taylor said. Monaghan Township-based Presbyterian Senior Living purchased the home in 2009. The 32 residents last month moved to The Long Community at Highland, the company's independent-living community in development in Manheim Township, Lancaster County. Last week Long Community's board decided to keep the Long Home property and redevelop it into income-based apartments for seniors 55 and older, Taylor said. The company will pursue historic preservation tax credits and plans to renovate the building in the future.



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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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