Glimmer of hope for home prices
The S&P/Case-Shiller Index, a leading indicator of U.S. housing prices, showed a 0.2% increase for its 10- and 20-city composites in August versus July 2011. In addition, 16 of the 20 MSAs and both composites posted improved annual returns compared with July’s data; Los Angeles and Miami saw no change in annual returns in August, and Atlanta and Las Vegas saw their annual rates of change fall deeper into negative territory.
In year-over-year figures, the 10- and 20-city composites posted annual returns of -3.5% and -3.8% versus August 2010, respectively. At -8.5%, Minneapolis posted the lowest year-over-year return, but has improved in each of the last three months. Detroit and Washington, D.C., were the only two cities to post positive annual returns of 2.7% and 0.3%, respectively.
“In the August data, the good news is continued improvement in the annual rates of change in home prices,” said David Blitzer, chairman of the S&P Index Committee. “In spring and summer’s seasonally strong period for housing demand, we cautioned that monthly increases in prices had to be paired with improvement in annual rates before anyone could declare that the market might be stabilizing. With 16 of 20 cities and both composites seeing their annual rates of change improve in August, we see a modest glimmer of hope with these data. As of August 2011, the crisis low for the 10-city composite was back in April 2009; whereas it was a more recent March 2011 for the 20-city composite. Both are about 3.9% above their relative lows.
“The Midwest is one region that really stands out in terms of recent relative strength. Chicago, Detroit and Minneapolis have all posted very sharp monthly increases going back to May. These markets were some of the weakest during the crisis, particularly Detroit. But as of August 2011, Detroit is the healthiest when viewed on an annual basis. It is up 2.7% versus August 2010. Prices there are still back to their 1995 levels, but the recent pickup in the U.S. auto industry may finally be helping.”
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KB Home, Build San Antonio Green introduce ZeroHouse 2.0
KB Home and Build San Antonio Green (BSAG) have announced the start of their partnership by recognizing KB Home’s first BSAG-Certified home, located in San Antonio, at an event at KB Home’s La Fontana community. The first certified home, named ZeroHouse 2.0, is KB Home’s first net-zero energy home and goes beyond the BSAG program’s guidelines.
"KB Home is proud to be partnering with Build San Antonio Green to help area residents save money and energy by constructing homes that meet this organization’s stringent guidelines," said Ken Langston, president of KB Home’s Central Texas division. "Our new ZeroHouse 2.0 and all of our new Built to Order homes in San Antonio include high-performance products, and incorporate efficient construction techniques and technologies in order to deliver an attractive new home with proven value to our customers."
Beginning Dec. 1, all new homes built in KB Home’s communities in San Antonio will be BSAG Certified, in addition to being Energy Star-qualified. Homes built to BSAG’s Certification are at least 15% more energy efficient than standard municipal code requirements. BSAG’s certification requirements include energy and water efficiency and indoor air quality standards.
With the introduction of ZeroHouse 2.0 to San Antonio, home buyers may be able to eliminate their monthly electricity charges entirely if they incorporate the ZeroHouse 2.0 energy efficiency options into their home at the KB Home Studio. The higher efficiency of the ZeroHouse 2.0 is the result of a whole-home approach, which includes increased insulation, upgraded HVAC systems and dual-pane, low-e windows and solar panels on the roof.
"Build San Antonio Green applauds KB Home for their commitment to sustainable construction practices and is pleased to welcome them to our team," said Anita Devora, executive director for BSAG. "Their commitment to our program shows home buyers and the marketplace that going ‘green’ makes good sense for not only the environment, but also for their business and for their customers."
I think it is important to
I think it is important to have an energy efficient house, to help with reducing the burden on the environment. For myself, I try to reduce the amount of air-conditioning I use by allowing breezes and drafts to blow through my house, cooling it down. I installed Stoett screen doors in order to achieve this. I am now planning to install solar panels so I can generate my own electricity. Stoett
Plum Creek Q3 earnings rise
Plum Creek Timber Co. posted third-quarter earnings of $50 million, up 56% from $32 million in the third quarter of 2010. Revenues for the period totaled $293 million, up 13% from $259 million in the same period last year.
Earnings for the first nine months of 2011 were $132 million, down 14% from $154 million in the year-ago period. Revenues for the period totaled $852 million, up 2% from $834 million in the first nine month of 2010.
"Business conditions were largely unchanged during the past quarter, with relatively attractive pulpwood markets in most regions, healthy sawlog markets in the Northwest and Northeast and continued weak sawlog markets in the South,” said Rick Holley, president and CEO. “Our results for the quarter came in much as we anticipated.
"The company’s balance sheet remains healthy and we continue to have excellent financial flexibility. We continue to manage our portfolio of timber and land assets to maximize the long-term value of the company on a per-share basis. Consistent with this strategy, we completed the acquisition of 50,000 acres of timberlands in Georgia and Alabama during the quarter in addition to repurchasing nearly $25 million of stock," Holley added.
During the third quarter, the company acquired 50,000 acres of timberlands in Georgia and Alabama for about $75 million.
Plum Creek expects fourth-quarter income to be between $0.37 and $0.42 per share, resulting in full-year 2011 income from continuing operations between $1.18 and $1.23 per share.
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