Economic News Week: March 26, 2012

U.S. stocks rose on Friday and ended up closing at 13080.73. Despite slowing economic news from China, U.S. stocks were able to hold their own.  So  yes, it really does matter what the price of “something” is in China.  What happens economically over-seas doesn’t always stay over-seas as we might wish sometimes.  Yet, our U.S. economy is still on a positive roll.  However, Fed chairman, Ben Bernanke said the slow recovery from the Great Recession and 2008 financial crisis illustrates how vulnerable the global economy is.  He urged economic policy makers to learn from that lesson.  Mr. Bernanke also reassured a congressional panel that U.S. banks could withstand shocks from Europe, even if the debt crisis there significantly worsened.  The Conference Board says its index of leading economic indicators rose 7 percent in February, after just a .02 percent increase in January-which is  more welcomed news for our U.S. economy.


Real Estate, Mortgage Industry, and Other Economic News

 Business is  growing  again at Stinson Municipal Airport in South San Antonio.  Mainly because of improving economic activity in the Southside and spinoff activity from energy production in the nearby Eagle Ford Shale.  In  San Antonio/Austin- it seems that there a jobs being offered all around.  The problem facing some employers is that there are not enough “trained” applicants.  Especially in the manufacturing sector.   Go figure, more jobs than applicants,  that’s a problem other state’s wished they had.  San Antonio has been ranked the #3 Metro city for jobs in a recent study.  Austin was ranked #1.


San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro is asking for approval of an 1/8th of a cent sales tax to bolster aid for children to attend pre-kinder classes for public schools.  He gets it.  You cannot have a thriving economy if your children are not educated or trained.  Studies have shown that children who attend pre-kinder have a better chance of succeeding at higher grade levels and eventually graduating high school and college.

“Home re-sales post best winter in years”, was a mini headline in the S.A. Express News this past Thursday.  The report stated that U.S. home sales are gradually coming back.  A mild winter and stronger job markets have helped boost sales ahead of the crucial spring buying season.  The past two months made up the best winter for sales of previously occupied homes in five years, when the housing crisis began.  The sales pace in January was the highest since May 2010, the last month that buyers could qualify for a federal home-buying tax credit.  February’s sales dipped slightly to a seasonally adjusted 4.59 million, the National Association of Realtors said on Wednesday.  Still, that’s 13 percent higher than the sales pace just this past July.


New Home builders requested 5 percent more permits in February to build single-family homes and apartments in the coming months. That increased the annual rate to a seasonally adjusted 717,000 permits, the Commerce department said on Tuesday.  It’s the highest level since October 2008. The rise in permits suggests builders see that interest translating into sales over the next 12 months which is how long it typically takes to build a home after a permit is obtained.


Mortgage rates jumped to 4.08 percent, up from 3.92 percent just a week ago, according to Freddie Mac.  There was an article in this past weekend’s Wall Street Journal that says that it might just be time for homeowners to “pull the trigger” on a deal if they are wanting to refinance their current homes.  The article continued to state that while rates are below where they were a year ago, some economists say they are likely to keep rising throughout 2012 and into 2013. That means that your window of opportunity to lock in a rock-bottom rate might be closing soon. “If you’re considering refinancing, there’s really no point in waiting,” says Frank Nothaft, the chief economist at Freddie Mac.  I would include homebuyers as well.  There is no time like the present to buy a home while inventories and rates are at their best in years.


Have you been touring the Texas Hill Country and observing the Texas Bluebonnets along the highways and farm to market roads?  If you haven’t, you still have plenty of time.  But don’t miss out.  I have been out and about and can tell you it is worth the trip.  I hear that the Bluebonnets are beautiful along IH 10 to Houston.  However, I have not driven the Willow City Loop yet (Fredericksburg, TX  area) but, plan to do so very soon.

Economic Data due this week:  Consumer gas prices are weighing heavily on consumer’s minds- and pocket books.  The High Court will hear arguments from both sides this week regarding the Healthcare Reform Act.   Monday– Pending Home Sales.  Tuesday:  Consumer Confidence report.  Wednesday:  Durable Goods Report.  Thursday:  Weekly Jobless Claims.  Thursday:  Gross Domestic Product Report (GDP).  Friday:  PCE Index.  Friday:  Personal Income and Spending reports.  Friday:  Consumer Sentiment.

Texas Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Groundwater Rights

By tscra, on February 24th, 2012

For Immediate Release: Feb. 24, 2012
Contact: Marissa Patton, 512-469-0171

Cattle Raisers applaud opinion

FORT WORTH, TEXAS – The Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association (TSCRA) today applauded the opinion of the Texas Supreme Court in the Edwards Aquifer Authority v. Burrell Day and Joel McDaniel case regarding whether or not landowners own the groundwater below their land.

“The Texas Supreme Court has affirmed that landowners own the groundwater in place below their land and that it is subject to constitutional protection as a property right,” said Joe Parker Jr., rancher and president of TSCRA.

“This opinion is a victory for Texas landowners and will be important for generations to come. It also recognizes the important legislation, S.B. 332, that was passed by the Legislature in 2011,” Parker said.

“TSCRA would like to thank the Texas Supreme Court for their diligent efforts in writing this opinion,” Parker continued.

In the opinion, the Texas Supreme Court states:

“…we held long ago that oil and gas are owned in place, and we find no reason to treat groundwater differently.”

“…last year, the Legislature amended section 36.002 [S.B. 332], to set out its fuller understanding of the matter…By ownership of groundwater as real property, the Legislature appears to mean ownership in place.”

“Groundwater rights are property rights subject to constitutional protection, whatever difficulties may lie in determining adequate compensation for a taking.”

“Today we have decided that landowners do have a constitutionally compensable interest in groundwater…”


TSCRA is a 135 year-old trade association and is the largest and oldest livestock organization based in Texas. TSCRA has over 15,000 beef cattle operations, ranching families and businesses as members. These members represent approximately 50,000 individuals directly involved in ranching and beef production who manage 4 million head of cattle on 76 million acres of range and pasture land primarily in Texas and Oklahoma, but throughout the Southwest.

Economic News Week: February 20, 2012

Better-than-expected U.S. economic news and signs of a resolution to the Greek debt crisis propelled stocks higher this week. “Close, but no cigar” as the DOW stopped just 50 points short of making its way to the 13000 mark. It ended at 12949 on Friday-its best posting since May 2008. The NASDAQ-meanwhile closed at its highest level since December 2000 on Thursday—closing at 2952. Besides the Retail Sales report showing positive numbers once again, the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits for the first time fell to 348,000 the week ending February 11, the lowest since March 2008- a sign that U.S. economic recovery may be gaining traction.

An economist on the WSJ Report (Wall Street Journal) stated that we are seeing better signs for the 3 “R’s”. Firstly, Resolve: Meaning that as long as Europe gets its own debt situation under better control-then stabilization will persist. Secondly, Resilience: Job numbers are trending better than expected. Housing Starts are looking better, and consumer spending remains to be stronger. Thirdly, Recovery: Global concerns are trending downward, but albeit slowly. Market sell-offs are showing little signs of panic attacks.

Real Estate, Mortgage Industry, and Other Local Economic News

Recent comments from Dallas Federal Reserve Bank president and CEO, Richard Fisher said that low interest rates and monetary policy set by the Fed is not enough to solve the U.S. employment crisis. I totally agree. Even though these help greatly, it is not just up to our U.S. Congress but, also our State Legislatures. Look at what our own Texas Legislature is having to focus on at the moment- “redistricting”. What a waste of taxpayer money. This is an attempt by both sides to gain traction for their own political parties to garner votes. On a national level, Congress should be working together to help Americans gain jobs. Instead all I see is both parties pointing fingers and blaming each other for current joblessness in America (which is getting better by the way). Personally, we as Americans should use our “fire” power and voting power by electing officials we truly believe have our nation’s true interest at heart. Some of those interests may vary. I believe in helping those who are less fortunate and making America stronger and better for all Americans by creating an educated society. Yes, it will take hard work on everyone’s part. We’ve all heard the slogan, “No child left behind”. How about a new one, “No American left behind”!

Helped by good early growing conditions, Hill Country peach growers are looking forward to a terrific crop of the sweet tasting fruit. However, concerns are that peaches may be maturing a little too early as we could still get a late freeze. Pray for more rain-no freezes. Everyone knows that with a wonderful peach crop, tourists from around the state will flock to the Hill Country. Another report says that bluebonnets will be better this year than previous years due to recent rains and warmer than expected weather. In any case, this should be a great year for touring and spending money in the beautiful Texas hill Country.

Finally, a report in the S. A. Express News said that there are five things economists say you can expect in 2012: 1. An improving national economy, which makes people feel better about home purchases. 2. Texas still out performing the national economy. 3. The continuation of low mortgage rates. 4. Filling out lots of paperwork for mortgage loan documentation. 5. Low inventory levels that could, set the stage for price increases.

Hope you had a great Presidents Day!

Economic Data due this week: Monday: Markets closed for Presidents Day. Wednesday: Existing Home Sales Report. Thursday: Weekly Jobless Claims. Thursday: Freddie Mac releases weekly mortgage rates. Friday: New Home Sales Report.

Economic News Week: January 9, 2012

Stocks rose last week kicking off the New Year on a high note. The Dow Jones industrial average added 1.2% and ended last Friday at 12359.92.   The S&P 500 rose 1.6% and the Nasdaq gained 2.7%. But the tone on Wall Street has been cautious and trading volumes have been low. Many investors have taken to the sidelines rather than commit to stocks. That could change in the coming weeks as U.S. companies begin to release fourth-quarter reports and corporate leaders discuss the outlook for 2012-all this from CNN’s Money Watch.


Another bit of good economic news is that Auto sales were up for 2011.  Auto sales remain an American economic booster when folks are ready to replace there old vehicles for newer ones. Auto sales do not happen when folks are  concerned about losing their jobs as they do not wish to take on increased debt.  So, an increase in sales means our economy is shifting gears for the better.


Local Economic, Real Estate, and Mortgage Industry News


“San Antonio is tops in small-business hiring report” was a headline in Saturday’s S.A. Express News.  A report from a national payroll services company showed that the San Antonio area increased hiring more than any other city in the U.S. last year.  Economists said the small-business job numbers that SurePayroll recorded for San Antonio reflect more growth than expected when the government finalizes overall job counts for 2011.


Home prices will rise and more people will be buying homes in the San Antonio area according to some speakers at the San Antonio Board of Realtors “Housing Forecast” last week.  A 1-2% increase in both sales volume and prices is expected.  “We’re not expecting any great boom”, said James Gaines, research economist with the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M.  “But it beats the heck out of going down.” In another comic  commentary, Mr. Gaines also added, “this economy feels sort of like a long family car trip where the kids keep asking, “are we there yet?”  I think he is just about correct in his assumptions about the economy.  However, I will add that all other economic indicators are pointing to better times ahead f0r 2012.  Slowly but surely things are getting better.


Finally, The average rate on a 30 year fixed mortgage fell to 3.91% last week for a short period of time according to Freddie Mac.  That matches the record low reached just two weeks ago.  Again, I am hearing from some Realtors that business seems to be picking-up as compared to this time last year. I would agree.  Home refinance application have picked-up as well.  I guess people are noticing that mortgage rates are still at very attractive levels.  However, the really smart homebuyers have probably also heard that rates/costs are fixing to get higher as when Congress passed the recent tax payroll two month extension they added a cost to be added to home mortgages to help pay for it.  If you or somebody you know is going to be in the market for a home soon, let them know that they had better get a move on if they do not want to pay the extra!


Economic Data due this week:  Monday:  Consumer Credit Data released.   Tuesday:  Wholesale Trade Inventories for November.  Wednesday:  Beige Book released.  Thursday:  Weekly Jobless Claims Report.  Thursday:  Freddie Mac releases weekly mortgage rates.  Friday: International Trade Data for November.

Explanatory Statements for the November 8, 2011 Texas Constitutional Amendment Election

Proposition Number 1 (SJR 14)

SJR 14 would amend the constitution to authorize the legislature to provide the surviving spouse of a 100 percent or totally disabled veteran with an exemption from ad valorem taxation of all or part of the market value of the surviving spouse’s residence homestead as long as the surviving spouse has not remarried, the property was the residence homestead of the surviving spouse when the qualifying veteran died, and the property remains the residence homestead of the surviving spouse.

The proposed amendment would appear on the ballot as follows:  “The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to provide for an exemption from ad valorem taxation of all or part of the market value of the residence homestead of the surviving spouse of a 100 percent or totally disabled veteran.”

Proposition Number 2 (SJR 4)

SJR 4 would amend the constitution to authorize the Texas Water Development Board to issue additional general obligation bonds on a continuing basis for one or more accounts of the Texas Water Development Fund II, with the restriction that the total amount of bonds outstanding at any time does not exceed $6 billion.

The proposed amendment would appear on the ballot as follows:  “The constitutional amendment providing for the issuance of additional general obligation bonds by the Texas Water Development Board in an amount not to exceed $6 billion at any time outstanding.”

Proposition Number 3 (SJR 50)

SJR 50 would amend the constitution to authorize the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board or its successors to issue and sell general obligation bonds on a continuing basis for the purpose of financing educational loans for students, subject to certain constitutional restrictions, including a restriction as to the maximum principal amount of bonds outstanding at any one time.

The proposed amendment would appear on the ballot as follows:  “The constitutional amendment providing for the issuance of general obligation bonds of the State of Texas to finance educational loans to students.”

Proposition Number 4 (HJR 63)

HJR 63 would amend the constitution to authorize the legislature to permit a county to issue bonds or notes to finance the development or redevelopment of an unproductive, underdeveloped, or blighted area within the county, and to pledge increases in ad valorem tax revenues imposed on property in the area by the county for repayment of such bonds or notes.  The amendment does not provide independent authority for increasing ad valorem tax rates.

The proposed amendment would appear on the ballot as follows:  “The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to permit a county to issue bonds or notes to finance the development or redevelopment of an unproductive, underdeveloped, or blighted area and to pledge for repayment of the bonds or notes increases in ad valorem taxes imposed by the county on property in the area.  The amendment does not provide authority for increasing ad valorem tax rates.”

Proposition Number 5 (SJR 26)

SJR 26 would amend the constitution to authorize the legislature to allow cities and counties to enter into interlocal contracts with other cities and counties without having to assess an ad valorem tax and set aside a specified amount of funds for the payment of costs under the interlocal contract.

The proposed amendment would appear on the ballot as follows: “The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to allow cities or counties to enter into interlocal contracts with other cities or counties without the imposition of a tax or the provision of a sinking fund.”

Proposition Number 6 (HJR 109)

HJR 109 would amend the constitution to increase the amount of principal that is available for withdrawal from the permanent school fund each year and would also clarify certain references to that fund in the constitution.  Increased access to the principal of the state public education trust fund would be based upon HJR 109 granting the authority to consider alternative market calculations when determining the amount of principal that is available for distribution to the available school fund.  HJR 109 would also provide authority to distribute to the available school fund annual revenue from school fund land or other properties up to $300 million per year.

The proposed amendment would appear on the ballot as follows:  “The constitutional amendment clarifying references to the permanent school fund, allowing the General Land Office to distribute revenue from permanent school fund land or other properties to the available school fund to provide additional funding for public education, and providing for an increase in the market value of the permanent school fund for the purpose of allowing increased distributions from the available school fund.”

Proposition Number 7 (SJR 28)

SJR 28 would amend the constitution by adding El Paso County to the list of counties authorized to create conservation and reclamation districts to develop parks and recreational facilities financed by taxes.

The proposed amendment would appear on the ballot as follows: “The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to permit conservation and reclamation districts in El Paso County to issue bonds supported by ad valorem taxes to fund the development and maintenance of parks and recreational facilities.”

Proposition Number 8 (SJR 16)

SJR 16 would amend the constitution by requiring the legislature to provide for taxation of open space land devoted to water stewardship purposes on the basis of its productive capacity.

The proposed amendment would appear on the ballot as follows:  “The constitutional amendment providing for the appraisal for ad valorem tax purposes of open-space land devoted to water-stewardship purposes on the basis of its productive capacity.”

Proposition Number 9 (SJR 9)

SJR 9 would amend the constitution to authorize the governor, on the written recommendation and advice of the Board of Pardons and Paroles, to grant a pardon, reprieve, or commutation of punishment to a person who successfully completes a term of deferred adjudication community supervision.

The proposed amendment would appear on the ballot as follows:  “The constitutional amendment authorizing the governor to grant a pardon to a person who successfully completes a term of deferred adjudication community supervision.”

Proposition Number 10 (SJR 37)

SJR 37 would amend the constitution by extending the length of the unexpired term that causes the automatic resignation of certain local elected officeholders if they announce candidacy or become candidates for another office from one year to one year and 30 days.

The proposed amendment would appear on the ballot as follows: “The constitutional amendment to change the length of the unexpired term that causes the automatic resignation of certain elected county or district officeholders if they become candidates for another office.

Economic News Week: June 6, 2011

By Tony Stevenson/SWBC Mortgage

Stocks fell for a fifth time in as many weeks as the DOW ended this past  Friday at 12151.  Unemployment concerns and concerns over  European debt were the main culprits for the decline.  Moody’s Investor Service is talking about lowering the U.S.’  triple AAA rating if we don’t increase our debt limit.  Keep in mind though that Moody also gave triple AAA ratings for  certain mortgage backed securities during the housing bubble only just a few years ago.   So,  I don’t know how serious their ratings would be taken in the first place.  That being said, Congress really needs to raise the debt limit-if anything-to keep global concerns from spiraling further.  Most economists agree that we are in a “temporary” economic downturn.  The U.S. unemployment rate increased  slightly to 9.1% as the private sector gain 54,000 jobs for the month.  Which is still better than  the 750k job losses we were digesting  just two and a half years ago.  Other causes for the global economic slowdown are the Japanese tsunamis (down 30% car production in San Ant0onio alone), home price declines and foreclosures, the situation in  Libya, and tornados and flooding in N. eastern and southern U.S. states.  It may be time  U.S. corporations to take the bull by the horns and start spending some of their huge earnings  and start re-investing and hiring instead of waiting for the government to intervene again.


Local Economic News

Gov. Perry has ordered our state Congress back in special session to resolve issues not answered during regular session.  Education funding being at the top of the agenda. Let’s hope they don’t put our children’s future at the bottom of the list. Most economists agree that any economic turnaround includes a well-educated community.


Oil did drop 10 percent in May which helped Memorial Day weekend travelers.  The Texas Hill Country was well traveled as river bound floaters and other tourists spent their weekend traveling the Texas highways stopping for short visits along the way.


Bankruptcy filings in South-Central Texas continue to slide.  A 26% drop in filings from just a year ago, May 2010.  Even though our state is finding itself in the throngs of penny-pinching and trying to find cuts- even among the elderly, our state has still been the shining star for the nation.  And I’m not talking about the Texaco Star.  We are being admired for our job growth.  The Eagle Ford Shale has come to the rescue as jobs are being filled daily as  the oil and gas boom in South Texas continues to share its wealth.

Real Estate and Mortgage Industry News

Home prices fell  4.2% in the first quarter to 2002 levels. This provides for an even  better buyer’s market.  Mortgage rates fell again too!  The 30 year fixed rate index fell to 4.55% from 4.60% just a week ago.  Great housing selection, low prices, and low mortgage rates, what else could potential home buyers be waiting for?  It shouldn’t be for lack of money as Mortgage lenders are loaning money.  You just have to have good credit and the ability to pay-along with a minimal down payments-for now.  This can all change at the drop of a hat.  When inflation does eventually raise its ugly head, folks will have wished they bought now-than later.


Personal Note:

SWBC Mortgage welcomes Tamara Tapman as  our Texas Vet/VA Liaison.  Tamara brings  a wealth of knowledge to our staff regarding Texas Vet and VA type loans. Tamara was previously employed by the Veterans  Land Board in San Antonio for 21 years. So, if you know of anyone needing a Texas Vet and/or VA  loan, please keep me in mind.   I promise to make it an even easier process for our Texas Veterans and Military personnel.

Economic Data Due this week: Wednesday: Fed Beige Book=information released for current economic conditions here in the U.S. from all the Fed’s covered regions.   Thursday: International Trade Balance=  this is a report regarding imports vs. exports of U.S. products.  Thursday: Weekly jobless claims.  Thursday: Freddie Mac releases weekly mortgage rates.


Quote of the week!

Bless your past for the best that has happened

and forget the rest.

— —Brian Buffini


Stupid Joke of the week!

A farmer was quoted in the town newspaper as having “2008 pigs”.

He showed up the next morning to declare to the editor,  “That’s a

misprint!” He continued, “I  never said I have 2008 pigs. I told your reporter that I had 2 sows and 8 pigs.”


Please remember Karen Franz and I with any mortgage referrals you can send us!

Water Right Information updated!

Some great information was provided at our general Bandera County Board of Realtor meeting May 10, 2011 by a Local Attorney (Cynthia Payne) that keeps us local Realtor’s on top of water rights! Mrs Payne provided us a short update on what is going on on the state level. Her information is always appreciated.

Here are a few items she brought to our attention and I researched some links with more information. Hope this of interest!

1) Bill 332. The Word “VESTED” has been put onto the floor to be added to the “interest” of ground water. Please read more here from our State Senator Troy Fraser:

2) Right for Exemption of wells that is fore domestic and personal water use if you have more than 10 acres.  More information can be found

3) H.B. No. 1086 – Water control /Improvement in Bandera County.

4) Proposed “water Stewardship” as a exemption to reduce property tax:

5) Edwards Aquifer vs Day – No verdict yet, but expect one after the Legislator is out. At least that is what we expect.  Here is the Supreme Court website for more details

6) and one last wow..Texas Researchers to Study Fracking of Shale Gas – Is is safe for our ground water?? How will they control this and how will this impact our aquifers.. I don’t have a good gut feeling about it!.

University of Texas at Austin officials say the school will study the environmental impact of natural gas drilling and whether existing regulation properly oversees a key process that pumps chemical-laced water into subterranean rock.

Drillers make rocks known as shale formations more permeable though a method called hydraulic fracturing that allows the gas to flow out. The process has been used for decades, but now companies are “fracking” while also drilling horizontally, a tactic that only became economically viable about 10 years ago.



Defering Capital Gain Tax via 1031

Here at our local  Bandera County Board of Realtors we had a fantastic class on how a 1031 Exchange works.  There are sooo many options that if one is to find themselves in a capital gain’s situation, I would highly recommend talking with a reputable 1031 exchange Intermediary. WOW  is what I say.. I am not qualified to provide on details but here is the basic information.

You have 180 days to close/fund on a similar  (Price/value – not only type  IE: sell a ranch to buy commercial, sell commercial to buy ranch, home for home, rental for home (s) etc..  full details available) property that you will sell. BUT you have to have it identified in 45 days.

So before you plan on selling your property and if you will be paying Capital Gains tax, PLEASE let me know so we can start looking long before your property is sold.

Craig Brown from IPX1031  was the speaker at our session and here is his website:

Craig Brown, Esq.
Vice President
Regional Manager



(817) 271-1031



Texas REALTORS® urge lawmakers to protect homeowners

Apr. 13, 2011

More than 2,000 Texas REALTORS® converged on Austin yesterday to visit with state lawmakers on issues affecting Texas homeowners.  I was one of them!

“Texas withstood the real estate bubble that ravaged the rest of the country, largely because state leaders made private-property rights a priority in recent sessions,” says Dwight Hale, chairman of the Texas Association of REALTORS®. “We are focused on maintaining those policies so homeownership remains affordable in Texas.”

Texas REALTORS® are urging passage of legislation to strengthen property owners’ rights against eminent domain abuses and eliminate private transfer fees … a scam in which a hidden fee must be paid by the homebuyer anytime a property is sold, for up to 99 years.

Texas REALTORS® also oppose legislation that would weaken home-equity lending protections Texas homeowners have enjoyed since 1998 … protections the Texas Association of REALTORS® pushed for back in the 1997 session. “This kind of protection doesn’t exist in other states, and many homeowners have found themselves upside down on their loans as a result,” Hale says. Read the news release on PR Newswire