Friday, October 23 2009
The Federal Reserve's “Beige Book” report, released Wednesday, points to housing as a bright spot in the economic landscape and applauds banks that lent to first-time homebuyers.
It calls commercial real estate a consistently weak sector, weighed down by business closures and the difficulty in refinancing.
In a separate report Wednesday, the U.S. Labor Department said the number of jobs fell in 43 states and the District of Columbia, with the unemployment rate rising in 23 states.
Industries with the strongest economic gains were residential real estate and manufacturing.
Source: Washington Post, Neil Irwin (10/22/2009) http://www.realtor.org/RMODaily.nsf/pages/News2009102201?OpenDocument
Thursday, October 22 2009
A free Multi-Cultural Festival will be held Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. along Main Street between Riverside Drive and Second Street.
The festival will include about a dozen booths offering international food, handmade crafts from different countries, entertainment, children's crafts and a general introduction to life around the world.
Latino, Indian, Greek, Italian, Asian and Scottish cultures will be among those represented.
The entertainment includes Egyptian belly dancers, local bagpipers, the Boom Squad drummers, Latin American performer Daniela Vidal and an international folk-dancing troupe.
This is the first year the Growth Alliance for Greater Evansville and Downtown Rotary Club are joining forces on the event. Radio station WIKY-FM104.1 also is a sponsor.
Singer Gina Moore will open the event with "God Bless America."
Sunday, October 18 2009
Market Watch For October 2009
Most economists and Ben Bernanke believe that the recession is over. In addition, the “pending sales index” has increased for seven consecutive months, the first time that has occurred since the index was started in 2001. Although both of these pieces of information sound great, and they are good, we should look beyond headlines to see what is really happening in the Evansville area. We have seen a Toyota expansion, we are losing some Whirlpool jobs and we are adding some Berry Plastics jobs. Currently national unemployment is almost 10% while the Evansville area is less at 8.6%. Although the economy is improving no one we know is forecasting rapid economic growth.
Local housing sales continue at a very steady rate. Over the past four months our local MLS has sold 1585 homes compared to 1600 over the same period last year. Month to month sales have been virtually unchanged since May. The supply of homes on the market in our area has also stayed very steady. Although we can not say that sales are brisk, we can say that in some locations and price ranges the supply of homes is limited. If you are curious about the housing market in a specific location or price range give us a call and we can help you with that information.
From our friends in the financial services industry we have the following to report: But for mildly weak 3-month and 30-year Treasury auctions last week, it was a strong week for the credit markets and even stronger for the real estate market. The reported quantity of mortgage applications for the week prior showed a 16.4% rise overall, with strong jumps for both the purchase money and the refinancing mortgages. The Freddie Mac weekly loan average rate fell to 4.87%. And the average of all mortgage rates (including jumbos, whose rates are declining while applications rise) ended the week at 5.27%.
A little over a year ago my company, F. C. Tucker Emge Realtors launched a completely redesigned website designed specifically to help make the home buying process easy. At the same time we started spending less money on print advertising and spent more resources enhancing and promoting our website. This decision was one of the best decisions we ever made. We are now selling more real estate than our next two competitors combined and more and more buyers are finding their new home at www.FCTuckerEmge.com If you haven’t visited the site please do. We think you will like what you see.
Wednesday, October 14 2009
PRINCETON, IN - Sustaining 4,200 Tri-State jobs. NEWS 25 finds Toyota's Princeton plant held on to a number of workers during this strained economy, even when production was way down.
This week the plant started making the company's Highlander mid-size SUV model and NEWS 25 gets a look inside to see if production is stepping up.
$450 million went into preparing the plant for its newest model. Plant managers tell us, in the end, it will provide job security for plant workers.
It's been a year of slow go for workers at the plant.
"We were training all, most of the time because the plant wasn't running," says Ralph Goodwin, a Toyota employee.
Last year, Toyota pulled its Tundra pick-up out of Princeton, and left behind the Sienna mini-van, and Sequoia full-size SUV, but with the troubled economy, demand for the Sequoia went way down.
"When the gas prices went up, with the size of that vehicle, the sales went down," says Wil James, Senior Vice President of Manufacturing and Quality Control for the Princeton plant.
James tells us production at the plant also went down, but Toyota was determined not to lay anyone off.
Workers went into training mode, and prepared the plant for the Highlander mid-size SUV.
"We made a strategic decision to keep our employees even when we didn't have the volume to warrant them to be here. So I won't say that it would save jobs because we were saving the jobs anyway, but it did protect the jobs," says James.
James tells NEWS 25 bringing the Highlander here, means more job security for plant workers, since it's a popular model among car buyers.
It's now made next to the Sequoia, but three times as many Highlanders will be driven off the line.
"With the Highlander coming we were able to work a lot more. Everybody's excited because it’s something new," says Goodwin.
NEWS 25 learned the Princeton plant is now in the process of retooling another part of its plant to make way for a new Sienna mini-van design, rolling out at the beginning of next year.
Tuesday, October 13 2009
Thousands of lawsuits by Americans complaining that drywall imported from China is causing them health problems are awaiting action in federal and state courts. A consolidated class action will be heard beginning in January.
“There could be 60,000 to 100,000 homes that are worthless and have to be ripped completely down and rebuilt,” said Arnold Levin, a Philadelphia lawyer and co-chairman of the plaintiffs’ steering committee.
Later in October, the Consumer Product Safety Commission will release the results of its study to determine what’s wrong with the drywall and what mediation programs might work.
Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin, a German company with manufacturing plants in China that supplied about 20 percent of the Chinese drywall said its own tests showed the drywall didn’t cause health problems. Some experts believe that the reason that drywall seems to be causing respiratory problems and headaches is because American homes are built tighter than those in Asia, where the drywall was also sold.
Source: The New York Times, Leslie Wayne (10/07/2009) http://www.realtor.org/RMODaily.nsf/pages/News2009100905?OpenDocument
Monday, October 12 2009
Indianapolis-based accounting firm Katz, Sapper & Miller is out with its fourth annual Indiana manufacturing survey. The report shows more than half of respondents believe the economic downturn had a significant, negative impact on sales volume, however Hoosier manufacturers expect steady or improved results in 2010. Other key findings reveal suppliers are often not deeply involved in the manufacturing process in such a way to maximize the efficiency of the supply chain, the demand for workers has declined and Hoosier manufacturers with a greater focus on globalization tend to be more successful than those focused solely on U.S. markets.
INDIANAPOLIS (October 9, 2009) – The certified public accounting firm of Katz, Sapper & Miller, LLP today released the results of its fourth annual Indiana manufacturing survey, The Gear and Fulcrum: Performance and Practice of Indiana’s Manufacturers. The study is commissioned by Katz, Sapper & Miller and developed in partnership with the Dauch Center for the Management of Manufacturing Enterprises (DCMME) and the Global Supply Chain Management Initiative (GSCMI) in the Krannert School of Management at Purdue University.
More than half of the respondents to the survey reported that the recent economic downturn had a significant, negative impact on sales volume. The study did, however, indicate that Hoosier manufacturers expect steady or improved results in 2010. Other key findings reveal:
·Internal Supply Chain – Suppliers are often not deeply involved in the manufacturing process in such a way to maximize the efficiency of the supply chain. This suggests that improvements – technological, communication, etc. – could increase the overall supply chain profitability.
·Staffing – The demand for workers has declined. Most workforce changes occurred on the shop floor and in administration, with minimal changes in purchasing, human resources and sales. The location of job cuts indicates companies may be anticipating the need to ramp-up operations quickly after the recession.
·Global Opportunities – Hoosier manufacturers with a greater focus on globalization tend to be more successful than those companies focused solely on U.S. markets.
·New Products – Survey respondents indicated that they are looking outside of their current markets for growth opportunities. Alternative energy was the area reported as being favored by most respondents.
The survey goes on to reveal that while many Hoosier manufacturers believe that their own internal company changes are necessary, additional considerations for their long-term success must include a renewal in consumer confidence, greater access to traditional financing, and the recovery of the automotive industry.
“We found that companies have actively focused on improving their supply chain competitiveness by examining every aspect of their business and choosing to do what they are best at or finding other companies to assist. The best performers through this difficult economic transition also took advantage of global opportunities to find new markets and raw material sources,” said Dr. Ananth Iyer, Director of the Dauch Center for the Management of Manufacturing Enterprises and the Susan Bulkeley Butler Chair in Operations Management. “Companies are making critical and difficult moves that will position them for growth as the economy turns more favorable; they are exploring new opportunities in the wind, medical devices and defense sectors. In short, Indiana manufacturing companies in the survey showed that they are ‘pulling themselves up by their bootstraps’ and doing what it takes to become competitive.”
The Dauch Center for the Management of Manufacturing Enterprises (DCMME) at Purdue’s Krannert School of Management completed the 2009 Gear and Fulcrum study between April and August of 2009. The online survey was designed to provide insights into management choices made in 2009 by manufacturing and distribution companies across Indiana. Participants spanned the supply chain from raw material suppliers to final assembly OEMs.
To view the complete results of The Gear and Fulcrum: Performance and Practice of Indiana’s Manufacturers visit: http://www.ksmcpa.com/pdfdocs/2009_Gear_and_Fulcrum_Survey_Report.pdf.
Katz, Sapper & Miller is the largest Indianapolis-based accounting firm. In business since 1942, the firm has earned a reputation as a leader in the areas of accounting, audit, tax, and consulting services. The firm has been named one of the “Best of the Best” accounting firms in the nation by INSIDE Public Accounting magazine and was ranked ninth among the “Best Places to Work in Indiana” by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce. The firm is an independent member of Nexia International, a leading global organization of independent accounting and consulting firms. For more information visit us at www.ksmcpa.com.
Source: Katz, Sapper & Miller LLP & Inside INdiana Business http://www.insideindianabusiness.com/newsitem.asp?ID=38121
Monday, October 05 2009
More than 80 percent of new single-family homes have at least two bathrooms, which occupy an average of 300 square feet of floor space, or 12 percent of the total area, according to a study by the National Association of Home Builders.
The home builder’s study reports a major return on value for extra bathrooms: "When the number of bathrooms is approximately equal to the number of bedrooms, an additional half-bath adds about 10 percent to the home's value, and one additional bath adds about 19 percent."
A mid-range bathroom remodel, which costs $10,500 on average nationwide, repays a home buyer at least 100 percent of the outlay when the property is sold, the home buyer study concludes.
Source: Chicago Tribune, Mike McClintock (09/21/2009) http://www.realtor.org/RMODaily.nsf/pages/News2009100503?OpenDocument
Thursday, October 01 2009
Pending home sales have increased for seven straight months, the longest in the series of the index which began in 2001, according to the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.
The Pending Home Sales Index, a forward-looking indicator based on contracts signed in August, rose 6.4 percent to 103.8 from a reading of 97.6 in July, and is 12.4 percent above August 2008 when it was 92.4. The index is at the highest level since March 2007 when it was 104.5.
Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said not all contracts are turning into closed sales within an expected timeframe. “The rise in pending home sales shows buyers are returning to the market and signing contracts, but deals are not necessarily closing because of long delays related to short sales, and issues regarding complex new appraisal rules,” he said. “No doubt many first-time buyers are rushing to beat the deadline for the $8,000 tax credit, which expires at the end of next month.”
The Pending Home Sales Index in the Northeast jumped 8.2 percent to 85.3 in August and is 12.0 percent higher than August 2008. In the Midwest the index rose 3.1 percent to 90.8 in August and is 7.6 percent above a year ago. In the South, pending home sales increased 0.8 percent to an index of 104.6 and is 8.2 percent above August 2008. In the West the index surged 16.0 percent to 130.5 and is 22.3 percent above a year ago.
“There is likely to be some double counting over a span of several months because some buyers whose contracts were cancelled have found another home and signed a new contract to buy,” Yun explained. “Perhaps the real question is how many transactions are being delayed in the pipeline, and how many are being cancelled? Without historic precedents, it’s challenging to assess.”
Yun also noted that the data sample coverage for pending sales is smaller than the measurement for closed existing-home sales, so the two series will never match one for one.
NAR President Charles McMillan, a broker with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Dallas-Fort Worth, said first-time buyers need to act now. “Potential first-time buyers must make a contract offer very soon to have a reasonable chance of qualifying for the tax credit,” he said. “Congress needs to extend and expand this program because it’s stimulating the economy and reducing inventory close to price stabilization points.”
McMillan said a sizable number of homebuyers already in the pipeline could be let down because of the tight deadline. “We know there is a pent-up demand because sales are below normal levels for the size of our population. The faster we absorb excess inventory, the sooner we’ll turn the corner on home prices, prevent additional families from becoming upside-down in their mortgages, and give Wall Street the confidence to extend credit to other sectors,” he said. “Each home sale pumps an additional $63,000 into the economy through related goods and services, so the benefits of extending and expanding the tax credit far outweigh the costs.”
Yun said the forecast for home sales and prices depends very much on whether a tax credit is extended. “All we can say for certain is sales will decline when the tax credit expires because we are not yet on a self-sustaining recovery path. It also raises a risk of a double-dip recession,” he said. “Extending and expanding the tax credit is the best tool in our arsenal to encourage financially qualified buyers to stimulate the economy and help reduce the budget deficit.”