A series of mid-September rainstorms added about 20,000 acre-feet to the combined storage of lakes Buchanan and Travis, the region's water reservoirs. Lake Travis rose more than 2 feet, while Lake Buchanan rose a little more than half an inch.
The increase was welcome but relatively small, and it was not enough to make much difference in the severe drought gripping the region around the Highland Lakes.
Despite the rains, inflows - the amount of water flowing into the Highland Lakes from rivers and streams - measured in September at four locations upstream of the lakes remained very low. September inflows were just 12,683 acre-feet, or 12.5 percent of the average for September.
Inflows have been at or near historic lows for an extended period of time during this drought:
Six of the 10 lowest annual inflows in history have occurred since 2006.
Combined storage in lakes Buchanan and Travis dropped from 709,070 acre-feet on Sept. 1 to 694,066 acre-feet on Oct. 9. Lakes Buchanan and Travis are about 34 percent of capacity.
Should combined storage drop below 600,000 acre-feet, or 30 percent of capacity, the LCRA Board of Directors will issue a Drought Worse Than the Drought of Record declaration. Following a state-approved plan, LCRA then would require cities, industries and other firm customers to reduce their water use by 20 percent from a baseline year, and would cut off all Highland Lakes water to interruptible customers.
Because of the mid-month rain and decrease in demand and evaporation this time of year, LCRA projects the earliest combined storage could drop below 600,000 acre-feet is next spring.
Though lake levels are low, the Highland Lakes are doing exactly what they were designed to do - capturing water when it rains to ensure the region has a reliable water supply during droughts such as this one.
Lakes Travis and Buchanan provide drinking water to more than a million people, and water to industries, businesses and the environment in the lower Colorado River basin.
LCRA has been working aggressively to conserve water and expand the water supply during the drought. With permission from the state, LCRA has cut off Highland Lakes water to most interruptible agricultural customers for three years in a row. LCRA also is requiring its firm customers to limit lawn and landscape watering to once a week in the communities they serve.
In September, the LCRA Board authorized construction of the Lane City Reservoir Project in Wharton County. The reservoir is expected to be complete in 2017. The off-channel reservoir will add about 90,000 acre-feet of firm supply.
LCRA also is drilling groundwater wells on its property in Bastrop County.
Buyers needing financing for their home purchase often struggle to compete with other buyers willing to pay all cash to close the sale. All-cash buyers make up an large part of sales.
Some lenders are helping buyers better compete. Known as “pre-underwriting,” they’re putting loan applications through a more thorough venting process before the buyer even enters into a contract for a home, The New York Times reports.
For example, Luxury Mortgage in Stamford, Conn., has started pre-underwriting some of its clients. Unlike preapprovals for a specified loan amount, lenders take the approval a step further by thoroughly reviewing all documentation that would be required for a formal approval. This type of underwriting is being completed after a house is selected and an offer is accepted, but before the contract is in place.
Another lender – Mortgage Master in Walpole, Mass. – has also taken its preapproval process a step further. The lender says for some of its buyers it is verifying the same income and asset information upfront that it would typically do for a processed loan application. The aim is to put the borrower in the same position as a cash buyer, Paul Anastos, president of Mortgage Master, told The Times.
source: New York Times
Although U.S. foreclosure activity may be declining, the problem is far from over. There have been over 5 million foreclosures since 2007, reports the Center for Responsible Lending, which estimates that between 3 million and 5 million more will occur over the next couple of years.
In 2003, one in 38 U.S. home owners were seriously delinquent on their mortgage payments or in foreclosure, but today those numbers are one in 10. Some of the consequences of foreclosures are obvious: family displacements, crime in vacant properties, ruined credit, and the loss of equity.
Other, less obvious consequences have emerged as well. About 8 million children could be affected, including kids of home owners and renters who were evicted due to a foreclosure. Julia Isaacs of the Brookings Institution calls these children the "invisible victims" of the foreclosure crisis, as foreclosures not only can cause emotional trauma, but also interfere with a child’s educational development.
Researchers also have found a connection between rising foreclosures and an increase in medical visits for mental health, such as anxiety, or preventable conditions such as high blood pressure.
And many communities are strapped because of a loss of property tax revenue caused by foreclosures, which can lead to cuts in services — including swimming pools, senior centers, and local law enforcement.
More women are starting real estate companies than ever before.
Since 2002, the number of women-owned real estate firms has exceeded overall growth in the industry by an 11-point gap, bringing the total female-owned real estate companies from 504,014 in 2002 to 712,800 in 2014, according to the Womenable’s 2014 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report, commissioned by American Express OPEN, That’s the widest single-industry margin reported in the survey, which analyzes U.S. Census data.
Women-owned brokerages have also seen a nearly 30 percent increase in sales since 2002.
“The report clearly shows that women are choosing the path of entrepreneurship at record rates,” said Randi Schochet, Vice President, Brand Strategy and Activation, American Express OPEN.
And the trend transcends real estate, with the report showing that women now start 1,288 (net) new businesses per day in the U.S., which is double the rate from only three years ago. There are now more than 9.1 million women-owned businesses in the U.S., up from 8.6 million in 2013, and these businesses generate more than $1.4 trillion in revenues, employ 7.9 million people, and account for 30 percent of all enterprises, according the report.
“Imagine the economic impact if more of these new ventures were transformed into thriving businesses,” said Schochet.
Nationally, the number of women-owned companies has increased by 68 percent since 1997 – that’s 1-1/2 times the national average. Focusing on this growing market segment could be a smart move for commercial real estate practitioners in the following five states, which have seen the fastest growth in female-owned business since 1997:
The five states with the lowest growth in women-owned firms between 1997 and 2014 are:
Looking at the 25 largest metropolitan areas in the country, these five cities came out on top with the highest growth in women-owned companies, their revenue, and employment numbers since 2002:
Download the full 2014 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report.
source: The 2014 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report and American Express OPEN
Broken out more, however, homes in New Zealand’s Queenstown were the price champs, reporting the largest price rises at 24.8 percent. In the U.S., Aspen, Colo., grabbed the second spot for largest price rises in the luxury ski home market, with homes seeing a 20.7 percent year-over-year increase.
Some millionaires are also showing more interest in renting rather than buying their luxury ski chalet.
"The rise of the 'super-chalet' as a rental option is a recent phenomenon," according to Knight Frank. "Some are 800 square meters or larger and located in unrivaled positions in the top resorts such as Courchevel [in France]." For example, rental properties with 14-week stays there have been shown to return a gross investment yield of 6.7 percent over the last year.
The fall housing market isn’t known for being as robust as the spring market, but there are different motivations that tend to attract consumers during this season, experts say.
"We've observed in seasonal household buyer patterns that there is a higher ratio of first-time buyers and childless couples in the fall," says Walter Molony, economic issues media manager at the National Association of REALTORS®. "Families with children time their purchase based on school-year considerations, so they peak in the spring and summer.”
According to an ERA Real Estate survey, based on 30,000 of its broker and agents, about 20 percent of buyers are emotionally driven in the fall to purchase a house so that they can be in a new home by the holidays. Ten percent are motivated by tax benefits.
Sellers in the fall tend to be highly motivated too and face less competition, says Shaun White, vice president for corporate communications for RE/MAX LLC in Denver, Colo.
"Some sellers will opt to lower their price in the fall because they're afraid of missing the boat and being stuck trying to sell during the holidays," says White. "Buyer traffic drops in the fall, too, so buyers may have less competition as well as better prices. You find motivated sellers and motivated buyers in the fall, especially as you get closer to the holidays.”
In some areas of the country, such as in Arizona and Florida, the prime selling season doesn’t even begin until the fall as snowbirds come in from the cooler climates looking for new homes, White says.
A report by the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy reveals that transit quality ranks third in predicting the success of transit-oriented development.
Government intervention is the most important factor, according to the report, which showed that TOD was successful when local governments rezoned a corridor to promote mixed-use development, created a comprehensive plan for the area, sought investors, marketed the program, and provided financial incentives, among other things.
Land potential, including regional market strength and corridor quality, also ranked higher than transit quality. Thus, cities seeking TOD investments should consider transit quality only after developing a robust government intervention plan and identifying a corridor with great potential, and they should be aware that light rail, bus-rapid transit, and streetcars had similar TOD investment outcomes.
source: The Atlantic Cities