Economic News Week: September 20, 2010

Retail sales rose in August  by the largest amount in five months the Commerce Department reported last week.  It was the second straight monthly gain and the biggest gain since March.  A separate Commerce report also stated that business inventories jumped in July by the largest amount in two years while sales rebounded after two months of declines.  This is seen as an encouraging sign that consumer demand is rising after two weak months.  The strength in August retail sales come in a number of areas, from department stores to clothing stores and sporting goods outlets.  Today will be an interesting one as President Obama addresses a Town Hall meeting  at the lunch hour regarding our economy and jobs.  The theme of  today’s talk is “Investing in America”.

“Top executives predict economy will rebound” was a headline last week in the S.A. Express News.  The article continued to state that famed investor Mr. Warren Buffett expects the economy to come back stronger and he sees no fall-back into another recession anytime soon. “I am a huge bull on this country. We are not going to have a double-dip recession at all”, he said.  Buffett based his comments on the fact that banks are lending money again and businesses are starting to hire  as well.  Another  CEO, Steve Ballmer, said there would soon be more technical advancement and invention than there was during the “Internet era”. That will drive business growth in the future.

A couple more kudo’s for Texas as Schlitterban Water Park won the top ‘Water Park” prize once again.  It was reported also that Texas A&M ranked 2nd out of top universities from a newspaper’s survey as one of the top schools for  producing the best graduates. Job recruiters say graduates of top public universities are often the most prepared and well-rounded academically, the survey reported.

Mortgage rates slipped back near record lows this past week, according to  The 30 year fixed rate index was at 4.54%.  Last year the rates was at 5.38%. Low mortgage rates are continuing to lure more people into applying for mortgages.  The national average of refinance applications was at 83% compared to purchases applications.  Fear is what seems to be the determining factor keeping  more folks from purchasing homes as they are afraid of what the  future economy holds, especially on the jobs front.  Texas, as a whole, seems to be the place where jobs are holding steady and even producing job growth. But, even Nationally things are brightening-up as the economic news of late seems to be producing positive numbers.   According to some economic soothsayers, mortgage rates will remain at very low levels throughout the end of this year and further into 2011.

Economic data due this week:  Monday: President Obama’s Town Hall discussion  regarding the economy at noon-ish today. Tuesday: Housing Starts Report. Tuesday: FOMC meeting begins=talks will consist of rate direction and inflation.  Thursday: Existing Home Sales report. Friday: Durable Goods Report. Friday: New Home Sales Report.

Quote of the week!
What comes out of your mouth is determined by what goes into your mind.
—–Zig Ziglar

registered to VOTE!!!

Did you know that only 76% of Texas REALTORS® are registered to VOTE? That means that roughly 1 in 4 Texas REALTORS® is NOT registered to vote. This is where I need your help. Please take the initiative to make sure as many REALTORS® in your local Association is registered to VOTE. In order to vote in the November 2nd election, you have until OCTOBER 4TH to get registered. I have also attached the link to the TAR Voter Guide. Please share this with your membership.

Support real estate-friendly candidates this November—download the 2010 Texas Association of REALTORS® voter guide. Monthly Market Report – September 2010

Texas and National News

USDA reports U.S. farmland rises in past year

August 04, 2010 | Source: Reuters, by Christine Stebbins
The value of U.S. farmland grew 1.4 percent from 2009, driven by stronger real estate values in the northern Plains states of Kansas, Nebraska, and the Dakotas, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said on Wednesday.

U.S. farm real estate, consisting of land and buildings, averaged $2,140 an acre on Jan. 1, up from $2,110 a year earlier.

U.S. Farmland Values Rise 1.4percent in 2009 as Crop, Livestock Outlooks Improve

August 04, 2010 | Source: Bloomberg, by Alan Bjerga
U.S. farmland values rose last year as crop and livestock prices stabilized and the outlook for agricultural profits improved.

The value of all land and buildings on farms in the 48 continental states averaged $2,140 an acre at the start of this year, up 1.4 percent from $2,110 a year earlier, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said today in an annual report. The gain follows a decline in 2008 that was the first since 1987.

EOG Resources to sell 180,000 acres of shale fields in the US

August 07, 2010 | Source:
EOG Resources, one of the largest independent oil and natural gas companies in the US, yesterday said that it plans to sell non-core shale assets in the US in order to fund its drilling and development activities in its more lucrative fields.

While releasing its 2Q results, Houston-based EOG Resources said, “We plan to sell certain non-core North American producing natural gas assets, as well as acreage in both natural gas and liquids plays, to execute the drilling and development of our suite of outstanding horizontal oil drilling opportunities,” said Mark Papa, chairman and CEO of EOG.

Some of Former Naval Station Ingleside goes for auction

August 09, 2010 | Source:, by Fanny S. Chirinos
The 155 surplus acres of the former Naval Station Ingleside, known as the Electromagnetic Roll Facility, will be sold at an online auction in October.

The property includes about 45 upland acres and about 110 submerged acres. The site was used to demagnetize mine-hunting Navy ships returning from patrol.

Land prices in Texas tied to what

August 10, 2010 | Source: Wisconsin State Journal, by Karen Rivedale
Who knows why they were looking, but researchers in Texas recently found a strong link between the average price for a thoroughbred yearling racehorse and the cost of land in Texas a full two years later.

The predictive power of racehorse prices was teased out by research economist Charles Gilliland, who’s been tracking real estate prices in Texas for the past 30 years for the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University, according to this center news release.

How to Survey Land Yourself

August 10, 2010 | Source:
Ever since the start of the current financial crisis many so called experts and news stations have been making it seem that the real estate market, including land, has all but been destroyed. The truth, however, is that land investment is not responsible for the current recession. It is because of the recession that land remains one of, if not the best, option for investment. The following are some of the reasons why land investment is ideal in a time of recession.

At risk religious lands being preserved nationwide

August 11, 2010 | Source: Associated Press, by Jay Lindsay
The stretch of shoreline owned by a Massachusetts religious order is a place where even the sounds add to the stillness. Bells jangle on buoys as birds chatter and the tide slides in a soft rush past scattered clammers.

“It’s a refuge of silence,” said the Rev. Stan Kolasa, director of a retreat center on the Buzzards Bay property. “It’s holy. This is holy ground.”

Americas biggest land barons

August 12, 2010 | Source: MSN Real Estate, by Daniel Fisher of Forbes
Texas oilmen used to talk about their wealth in terms of “units,” as in $100 million. When it comes to land, maybe the operative term should be “Rhode Islands.”

Billionaire Ted Turner owns just shy of three Rhode Islands, including the spectacular Vermejo Park Ranch straddling the border of New Mexico and Colorado, which at 590,823 acres, or 920 square miles, would cover a substantial portion of the 668,753-acre Ocean State. Turner’s other U.S. holdings include ranchland in Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas, as well as a 30,000-acre hunting preserve in Florida that he calls home, totaling 2 million acres.

Farmland values rise in second quarter, Federal Reserve Bank reports

August 13, 2010 | Source: Farm & Ranch Guide
Tenth District farmland values continued to rise in the second quarter as farm incomes fell, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City’s quarterly survey of Agricultural Credit Conditions. Value gains were attributed to strong demand from farm and non-farm buyers and a limited supply of land for sale, while lower crop prices during the spring trimmed farm incomes.

US Plains farmland up despite drop in farm income

August 13, 2010 | Source: Reuters, by Christine Stebbins
The value of farm land in the U.S. Central Plains rose nearly 4 percent in the second quarter as demand for farmland stayed strong from farmers and investors despite lower farm incomes, the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City said Friday.

North Texas Ag Land Auction to Include Irrigated Farmland, Dryland, CRP and Feedyard

August 16, 2010 | Source: Marketwire, by Carl Carter
More than 5,060 acres of Dallam County agricultural land — including irrigated farmland, dryland, CRP land and feedyard — will sell at auction Monday, Sept. 13, with Westchester Auctions marketing the property and managing the sale.

USDA Reminds Producers of Approaching Sign Up Deadline for the Conservation Reserve Program

August 18, 2010 | Source: USDA FSA, by Isabel M Benemelis
The USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) reminds producers that the deadline to enroll in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) general sign-up is quickly approaching. Farmers and ranchers have until close of business on Friday, Aug. 27, 2010, to offer eligible land for CRP’s competitive general sign-up. Applications can be completed by land owners at the FSA county office where their farm records are maintained. The 2008 Farm Bill authorized USDA to maintain CRP enrollment up to 32 million acres.

Uhr seeks land near Key Allegro

August 20, 2010 | Source: The Rockport Pilot, by NORMA MARTINEZ
The Aransas County Navigation District board of commissioners took no action regarding a request from Mark Uhr asking the district to offer for sale a tract of vacant waterfront land situated at the entrance to Key Allegro.

At a meeting Monday, Aug. 16, the board received copies of a letter, dated June 11, from attorney John Bell to ACND Chairman Ron Outen. They also reviewed slides of the proposed land and heard the request from Uhr, who represents Rockport Properties Inc.

The Most Expensive Farmland in the US

August 23, 2010 | Source: Business Week, by Maya Roney
Rural land values are on the rise all over the nation, but prices remain highest where real estate in general costs the most

On average, U.S. farm real estate is worth about $1,900 per acre, according to the U.S. Agriculture Dept. But in the Northeast, farmland can sell for six times that amount—70% of the country’s most expensive farmland is located in this region, with Rhode Island topping the list (California, Virginia, and Florida also make an appearance in the top 10).

House Prices Begin to Climb, Up 0.9 Percent in Q2 in FHFA Index

August 25, 2010 | Source: Housing Wire, by Jason Philyaw
Home prices inched up during the second quarter in the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s house price index, the first increase in three years.

The agency said its second quarter HPI – calculated using information from mortgages acquired by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – rose 0.9% on a seasonally adjusted basis from the prior quarter, yet fell 1.6% from the year ago. Still, prices of other goods and services in the second quarter were 3% higher than the year earlier. This puts the second quarter inflation-adjusted home price about 4.4% higher than last year, according to the FHFA.

Garner State Park to Gain Additional Acreage

August 26, 2010 | Source: San Antonio Business Journal
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission approved a plan on Thursday to purchase a 113.5-acre tract of ranch land to extend the size of Garner State Park.

The land is contiguous to the southern boundary of the state park, which is located west of San Antonio in Uvalde County.

Corn Belt Farmland Values Stabilizing

August 27, 2010 | Source:, by Jeff Caldwell
Another quarter, another period of slightly higher farmland values in the Corn Belt. That’s according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago in its latest survey of land values in Iowa, Wisconsin, northern Illinois, northern Indiana and Michigan.

Farmland Values Continue to be Strong

August 31, 2010 | Source: Corn & Soybean Digest, by Kent Thiese
Most reports from private companies involved in selling agriculture farmland in the Midwest have indicated strong land values in recent months. In many areas, 2010 land values are being reported near or above the peak land values in mid-2008, after declining 3-5% late in 2008 and early in 2009 in many locations. The decline in land values early in 2009 in some areas was expected due to reductions in farm income, lower crop prices, rising crop input costs and lower profitability in the livestock sector. By the fourth quarter of 2009, farmland values had already begun recovering from the temporary softening of land prices earlier in the year. Land sales in most areas of the Midwest during the first half of 2010 seem to indicate that farmland values have not only stabilized, but have again begun to increase; however, land values in more intense livestock production areas have been much slower to increase in recent months.

Texas Hill Country Real Estate Market Remains Steady; Boosting Horseshoe Bay Home Values

September 01, 2010 | Source: PRWeb, by Art Snell
The real estate woes which are affecting most of the country today seem to have missed central Texas and the Hill Country. Sales in Austin and the Highland Lakes communities, including Horseshoe Bay homes for sale and Lake LBJ real estate, remain brisk and steady.

Real Estate Premium Near Record to U.S. Bonds Signals Time to Buy Property

September 01, 2010 | Source: Bloomberg, by Hui-yong Yu
U.S. commercial real estate yields are near the highest level relative to Treasury bonds on record, a signal to some investors it’s time to buy property.

Capitalization rates, a measure of real estate yields, averaged 7.22 percent in the second quarter, based on an index calculated by the National Council of Real Estate Investment Fiduciaries. That was 429 basis points, or 4.29 percentage points, higher than the yield on 10-year government bonds as of June 30, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. It’s about 475 basis points higher than Treasury yields as of yesterday.

Rural Housing Incentives

September 01, 2010 | Source: RealtyTimes, by Carla Hill
The landscape of American has changed over the years. As population levels grew, so changed rural and urban demographics. Cities have stretched their boundaries to include former farmlands, absorbing formerly rural populations. And young rural dwellers have made the leap to city life, as small American farms and a largely agrarian society has been replaced by industrialized farming and a service-focused job market.

Old House Journal Joins the Network Providing Substantial Advertising Opportunities

September 01, 2010 | Source:, by Support Team
Old-House Journal is an authority on homes of every era, and has been called “the bible of old-house restoration” by the New York Times. explores hands-on restoration techniques, practical guidelines on architectural styles, historical overviews, and homeowner stories—all in a trusted, authoritative voice.

Featured Property Spots are available to purchase on the front of’s Land for Sale Section. To view pricing, log in to your account on then click on advertising at the top right.

Click here to view the properties on Old House Journal

The Sioux City Journal Joins the Network Strengthening Coverage in Iowa

September 01, 2010 | Source:, by Support Team is excited to partner with, which is now advertising all properties listed for sale across the network. The Sioux City Journal is the premiere source for National, local, breaking news and sports entertainment of the tri-state area including South Dakota and Nebraska. receives over 175,000 monthly visitors.

Featured Property Spots are available to purchase on the front of The Sioux City Journal’s Rural Land Section. To view pricing, log in to your account on then click on advertising at the top right.

Click here to view the properties on The Sioux City Journal

The Lincoln Journal Star Joins the Network Providing an Influential Partner in Nebraska

September 01, 2010 | Source:, by Support Team
The Journal Star is the premier news and information source in Southeast Nebraska., is a leading website in the area with an average of over 600,000 visits per month. The site features searchable business listings produced by the newspaper, classifieds, transportation services, neighborhoods, schools, news, sports, and weather.

Featured Property Spots are available to purchase on the front of the The Journal Star’s Rural Land Section. To view pricing, log in to your account on then click on advertising at the top right.

Click here to view the properties on The Lincoln Journal Star Offers Prospective Buyers From a Lucrative Niche Market

September 01, 2010 | Source:, by Support Team
Since 1995 The Log & Timber Home Show has enabled sellers to meet the most qualified consumers, ready to pursue their log home dream. The Log & Timber Home Show is the premier marketplace for those seeking log or timber home packages, financing and more.

Featured Property Spots are available to purchase on the front of The Log and Timber Home Show’s Land for Sale Section. To view pricing, log in to your account on then click on advertising at the top right.

Click here to view the properties on

Most Active Counties in Texas

The most active counties in a state are determined by counting the number of properties displayed for that county over the last 28 days. Rural Real Estate industry trend reports such as Number of Searches by County, New Properties Added Counts, Property Counts in Search Results , and Number of Properties Marked as Sold are available to all Premium Members.

County Avg Price Avg Ac.
1. Kendall County $1,011,584 87.85
2. Burnet County $706,458 100.54
3. Bandera County $757,749 154.40
4. Denton County $796,435 22.09
5. Henderson County $237,859 14.31

Visit to search other counties in your state.

HomeSteps: Freddie Mac First Look Initiative

Attention Selling Agents
Freddie Mac First Look Initiative to launch Sept. 17, 2010

Beginning Sept. 17, 2010, Freddie Mac will offer homebuyers and select non-profits an exclusive opportunity to purchase HomeSteps homes prior to competition from investors through the Freddie Mac First Look Initiative.

This on-going initiative offers owner occupant homebuyers, Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) grantees and non-profits engaged in community stabilization efforts the ability to purchase HomeSteps homes during their initial 15 days of listing, without competition from investors. The purchaser does not need to be a first time homebuyer to be eligible, however, they must be buying the home as their primary residence.

The Initiative supports Freddie Mac’s mission to stabilize communities and support housing recovery through the creation of affordable homeownership opportunities.

Freddie Mac First Look Initiative
Initiative Questions and Answers

What is the effective date of the Freddie Mac First Look Initiative?

  • September 17, 2010

How does the Initiative work?

  • During the first 15 days (30 days in Nevada) a home is listed for sale in the MLS, only offers from owner-occupants, public entities or their designated partners will be considered. Offers from investors and second home purchasers may be submitted to HomeSteps, but they will not be considered until after the initial 15 days of the listing.

What homes are eligible to be included in the Freddie Mac First Look Initiative?

  • HomeSteps homes in listed status, listed on or after September 17, 2010, are eligible for inclusion in the Freddie Mac First Look Initiative.

How will a homebuyer or selling agent know if a home is eligible for the Freddie Mac First Look Initiative?

  • Buyers may contact their selling agent or the listing broker with questions regarding the eligibility of a property; this information will also be included in MLS property listing information.

How will the buyers prove that they are buying the property as their primary residence?

  • The buyer and the selling agent must sign an affidavit affirming that the buyer will occupy the home as their primary residence. Parties that fraudulently sign the affidavit may be subject to criminal or civil liability. The sale will be canceled and the earnest money will be forfeited.

What should the selling agent do if a non-owner occupant makes an offer during the Initiative’s 15-day time period?

  • Submit the offer to the HomeSteps listing broker.
    • Investors may submit offers at any time; however, the offers will not be considered for negotiation until after the 15-day time period.
  • Please note: Offers from non-profits, NSP grantees and community development organizations are eligible for the Freddie Mac First Look Initiative.

If a home has been on the market for less than 15 days on the Sept. 17 Initiative launch date, will this home qualify under Initiative guidelines?

  • No, homes listed prior to the launch date will not be included in the Initiative 15-day time period.

Important Notes

  • The 15-day Initiative time period is based on MLS days, not the date of the Listing Broker listing.
  • Multiple offers received during the 15-day Initiative time period are processed in the same manner as a normal transaction using the multiple offers procedure.
  • Second home purchasers are not eligible for Freddie Mac’s First Look Initiative.
  • In Nevada, Freddie Mac’s First Look Initiative window for buyers who plan to become owner-occupants is being extended to 30 days.
  • Interested home shoppers should contact their local real estate broker for more information about the Freddie Mac First Look Initiative.

Native Texas plants for sale from the Texas Forestry Service

Seedlings for sale

Each year, West Texas Nursery grows roughly 30 different hardwood and evergreen seedling species, though exact numbers vary based on seed availability, weather and other factors.

Customers can begin placing orders for seedlings each September. Sales continue while supplies last through the fall and winter. Seedlings are shipped the following February.

For more information, call West Texas Nursery at 806-892-3572. Orders can be placed online, over the phone or by fax at 806-892-3585.

Return to West Texas Nursery.