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FHA pending condo rule revisions

FHA pending condo rule revisions | Texas Coast Real Estate | Scoop.it

FHA commissioner Carol Galante says the FHA would publish revisions to the agency's controversial rules soon.


What areas of the current rules are most likely to be changed?


First, there's zero chance the whole package of rules will be put on ice or withdrawn.


High on the list:

The agency intends to soften and clarify some of the "project certification" language in the current package that condo associations and builders must sign.


Condo fees in arrears.

Under the current rules, no more than 15 percent of the total units in a project can be more than 30 days past due on the condo fee payments. Look for an extension of the delinquency standard beyond 30 days.


Investor ownership limits.

The rules now prohibit more than 10 percent of the units in a project from being owned by a single investor. Look for a relaxation of the rules here.


Concentration of FHA loans.

Currently no more than 50 percent of the units in a project can carry FHA financing. FHA is looking hard at raising that ceiling.


Non-residential, commercial space.

The agency now limits a project's commercial usage to 25 percent of total floor space. This is tough on some condos in urban areas where retail or office space rents help pay the bills, but the requirement is likely to be changed to accommodate those projects' needs.


One controversial area that may not see much in the way of modification: Non-owner occupancy. The current rule limits rentals to 50 percent of all units. FHA believes this standard is consistent with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac rules, though there could be some wiggle room if second home/vacation home units are counted on the owner-occupied side of the ledger.

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Rickety Modern Cafes for Texas coast?

Rickety Modern Cafes for Texas coast? | Texas Coast Real Estate | Scoop.it
Building something cool could work coastal.

At first glance, the Noorderparkbar may look like a rickety old shed of sorts. Once a person peers inside, however, the pristine white interior with Noorderparkbar’s modern fixtures and decor will make people think twice. Made out of repurposed raw materials sourced from nearly 100 different individual online traders.

An Idea for the now thrifty, but always sunny Texas coast?
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Environmentally Friendly Features

Environmentally Friendly Features | Texas Coast Real Estate | Scoop.it

NAR Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers


Commuting costs and environmental efficiency have increasingly factored into home buying decisions due to higher energy costs, but also due to overall concern for the environment.


Factors that are most important to buyers are those directly related to the buyers’ pocketbook.


Other points:

  • Future of U.S. Housing Markets Depends Largely on Echo Boomers
  • Bidding Wars Are Back
  • Women Make Home Buying Decisions
  • Seller Financing
  • Seniors and Young Adults Will Influence U.S. Housing Markets

See http://www.realtor.org/reports/profile-of-home-buyers-and-sellers

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What makes a home smart?

What makes a home smart? | Texas Coast Real Estate | Scoop.it

In the broadest sense, a smart home is where home automation, entertainment technologies, intelligent products and appliances, and cleaner, greener materials and energy solutions all intersect.


These are built with sustainability and energy efficiency in mind and with the infrastructure for an entertainment network and security system and centralized control of lighting, locks, and all technology.


With a connection to the Internet and coming "smart grid" public utilities, the house itself can manage power usage, while its digital hub pumps the media content of choice to any room.

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Galveston making strides in recovery efforts and growth

Galveston making strides in recovery efforts and growth | Texas Coast Real Estate | Scoop.it

Reports from the community’s leaders at Galveston Economic Development Partnership’s conference for developers painted a convincing picture that a lot of money is being invested in the island.


If you’re skeptical, consider that somewhere between $2.5 billion and $3.5 billion will be invested within the next 10 years in capital projects at the University of Texas Medical Branch.


Also, consider the investment that has been made in the medical branch since Hurricane Ike struck in 2008. Losses at the medical branch were estimated at $1.6 billion. But since then, $1.8 billion has been committed to the campus, including the new Jennie Sealy Hospital, which is set to open in 2016.


Texas A&M University at Galveston is poised for similar growth and is ranked highly in research. The city government is focusing millions of dollars in federal recovery funds on infrastructure improvements and on helping people rebuild their homes.


The port is handling a million passengers a year in the cruise business and is looking to fill antiquated slips to develop 18 acres of additional storage space. The island’s tourism business, which was en route to a banner year in 2008 before the storm hit, has recovered. Hotel taxes are back to pre-storm levels and are up 15 percent year to date.


It’s time to breathe a sigh of relief.

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Eagle Ford Shale generates 5 billion for Corpus Christi economy

Eagle Ford Shale generates 5 billion for Corpus Christi economy | Texas Coast Real Estate | Scoop.it

Eagle Ford Shale activity generated an economic impact of more than $25 billion in South Texas in 2011, according to a University of Texas at San Antonio study.The 50-mile-wide, 400-mile-long formation has been a hotbed of oil and natural gas drilling since the first well was drilled in 2008.


The study examined a 20-county region including 14 counties involved in production and six surrounding counties.


In Nueces County (Corpus Christi), the study estimates Eagle Ford Shale supported 3,880 jobs, including 713 direct jobs. Production also meant $4.9 billion in economic impact, including $225 million in payroll.


Source: UTSA Institute for Economic Development Center for Community and Business Research

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What is the FEMA Risk MAP Policy?

What is the FEMA Risk MAP Policy? | Texas Coast Real Estate | Scoop.it

The FEMA vision for Risk MAP is to deliver quality data about each local area's flood potential to increases public awareness which leads to action that reduces risk to life and property.


What is Risk MAP?
Risk Mapping, Assessment, and Planning (Risk MAP) is the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Program that provides communities with flood information and tools they can use to enhance their mitigation plans and take action to better protect their citizens.


Through more precise flood mapping products, risk assessment tools, and planning and outreach support, Risk MAP strengthens local ability to make informed decisions about reducing risk.


Interested parties with questions pertaining to the updated strategy and planned schedule for flood mapping projects are encouraged to contact their appropriate local and State officials, who are working with one of FEMA's 10 Regional Offices.


See http://www.fema.gov/library/viewRecord.do?id=4119

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Texas Holiday Beach Homes Damaged by Storms

Texas Holiday Beach Homes Damaged by Storms | Texas Coast Real Estate | Scoop.it

A vacation home in Holiday Beach suffered some major damage this morning. The home on Bellaire Drive now only has three walls and the roof is gone.


Neighbors tell us no one was home at the time as the owners live out of town.

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US drilling chief promises western Gulf of Mexico lease sale before 2013

US drilling chief promises western Gulf of Mexico lease sale before 2013 | Texas Coast Real Estate | Scoop.it

The Obama administration Wednesday defended its timeline for rolling out its offshore drilling priorities for the next five years and reiterated plans to hold a western Gulf of Mexico lease sale in November or December.


Tommy Beaudreau, director of the Interior Department's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, responded to criticism from Republicans in Congress who said the US would be without a long-term drilling plan for the first time in 40 years when the current one expires June 30.


Beaudreau said Interior would adopt a final version by the end of June and then send it to Congress. Beaudreau said the 2012-17 plan would be in place in plenty of time for Interior to hold a lease sale for the western Gulf of Mexico in November or December.


On June 20, Interior will hold Lease Sale 216/222 for blocks in the central Gulf of Mexico, the last offshore auction under the current plan.

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Galveston beach homeowners prepare to exert rights

Galveston beach homeowners prepare to exert rights | Texas Coast Real Estate | Scoop.it
Galveston beach homeowners prepare to exert rightsHouston ChronicleIn theory, the ruling allows property owners to construct concrete protective bulkheads, structures historically opposed by the Texas General Land Office because they cause erosion...
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Green Homes Here to Stay as Demand for Energy Efficiency Grows

Green Homes Here to Stay as Demand for Energy Efficiency Grows | Texas Coast Real Estate | Scoop.it

A solid trend in home design is one where homes are built with energy efficiency and sustainable materials in mind.


According to the National Home Builders Association, the green building market has increased dramatically from 2 percent of homes built to energy-efficient standards in 2005 to 17 percent of homes built in 2011.


The American Institute of Architects reports similar numbers, with an increase of requests for energy-efficient products and energy management systems, including solar panels and geothermal technology.


This growth is expected to continue rising to an estimated 30 percent by 2016, says Kevin Morrow, senior program manager for Energy and Green Building at the NAHB.

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State Farm is like a Bad Neighboor in Texas

State Farm is like a Bad Neighboor in Texas | Texas Coast Real Estate | Scoop.it

Texas Attorney General  is taking issue with one of the nation’s largest homeowners insurer’s plan to not renew thousands of policies for properties along the Gulf Coast.


The Texas Attorney General sent civil subpoenas to State Farm seeking information about the company’s decision drop so many coastal policies.


State Farm subsequently filed a lawsuit against the the State in an attempt to hide information.


Given the number of Texans that are affected, we want to ensure that State Farm complies with the law. If State Farm has not done anything wrong, it’s certainly curious that they would go to court just to avoid the State’s subpoenas.

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Texas existing-home sales Rose


Texas Economic Indicators by the Dallas Fed for May 2012


The Texas economy continues to grow slowly and employment grew at a 0.4 percent annual rate in March.


Texas gained 3,700 jobs after adding 19,900 jobs in February. Current Texas employment stands at 10.72 million.


The Texas unemployment rate declined to 7.0 percent in March from 7.1 percent in February. The Texas rate remains lower than the U.S. rate, which was 8.2 percent in March.


Texas existing-home sales increased 0.5 percent in March and are up 10.7 percent year over year. Home inventories remains at 6.1 months of available supply.

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How Texas Avoided the Great Recession | Newgeography.com

How Texas Avoided the Great Recession | Newgeography.com | Texas Coast Real Estate | Scoop.it
Texas has been noted frequently for its superior economic performance. The most recent example is the CNBC ratings, which designated the Lone Star state as the top state for business in the nation. Moreover, Texas performed far better than its principal competitor states during the Great Recession.

One reason that Texas did so well is that it fully escaped the “housing bubble” that did so much damage in California, Florida, Arizona, Nevada and other states. One key factor was the state’s liberal, market oriented land use policies. This served to help keep the price of land low while profligate lending increased demand. More importantly, still sufficient new housing was built, and affordably. By contrast, places with highly restrictive land use policies (California, Florida and other places, saw prices rise to unprecedented heights), making it impossible for builders to supply sufficient new housing at affordable prices (overall, median house prices have been 3.0 times or less median household incomes where there are liberal land use policies).

The Threat: Yet, despite the success of the less restrictive land use policies in Texas, there are strong efforts there to impose more smart growth policies. The impact could be devastating, especially from strategies that ration land that would raise land and house prices, as has occurred in California and Florida. In 2009, Governor Perry vetoed a bill that would have required the state to promote smart growth. Federal initiatives, under proposed climate change and transportation acts could do much to destroy not only the affordability of Texas metropolitan markets, but could also make Texas less competitive in the decades ahead.

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Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier is Open

Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier is Open | Texas Coast Real Estate | Scoop.it

The Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier has opened its gates. Rising the tide on the value of Galveston tourism.


The amusement park and destination, a Landry's Inc. venture, salutes the historic pier that stood in the same location along the Galveston Seawall from 1948 until 1961. But the new amenities are decidedly modern on the 1,130-foot stretch, jam-packed with shops, food and games.


And, of course, roller coasters.

Though the attractions easily distract, it's impossible for one to forget that the platform is suspended over the Gulf of Mexico.


The Cyclone whooshes. The Texas Tea induces dizziness. The Pirate's Plunge splashes passers-by. Only a few of the 16 rides (13 are currently operational) are along the pier, designed to whirl and twirl and entertain.


"There's something for everybody," Mark Kane, regional director of the Landry's theme park and interim general manager of the Pleasure Pier,.


Though the attractions easily distract, it's impossible for one to forget that the platform is suspended over the Gulf of Mexico.


At each step, visitors get vistas of the gulf and the seawall. Almost all of the rides swing out over the water, where surfers straddle their boards below, alongside the cement pilings.


All of the amenities combine to create a family-friendly atmosphere, fun for kids and grown ups, tourists and locals alike.

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Build your own eco-friendly beach house

Build your own eco-friendly beach house | Texas Coast Real Estate | Scoop.it

Home is wherever you want it to be. This 150-square-foot home can be shipped almost anywhere and then assembled like Ikea furniture in about four days for $50k.


House Arc was created as an emergency shelter for disaster victims, but it could also be a cool guest house for the backyard or on the beach without utilities.


According to architect Joseph Bellomo, it can be put together on site by anyone who has simple carpentry skills in about four days.


"We designed it to be a kit house that can be assembled quickly -- like prefab furniture," he said.

Just as importantly, it can be easily disassembled and shipped to where it's needed again, he said.

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Texas Beaches Are for the public?

Texas Beaches Are for the public? | Texas Coast Real Estate | Scoop.it
On March 30, five justices on the Texas Supreme Court affirmed an earlier ruling that the 53-year-old Open Beaches Act does not apply to three properties on the West Beach of Galveston Island that were then owned by an absentee landowner, a California lawyer named Carol Severance. She has since sold the properties. Severance was backed in her lawsuit by the California-based Pacific Freedom Foundation, which favors itself with the slogan “Rescuing Liberty from Coast to Coast.” The ruling means that the subsequent owners and some neighbors on the west end of Galveston Island can now fence off the dry beach and deny public access. It could well mean that litigious chaos ensues along our 367-mile shoreline and the Open Beaches Act perishes trial by trial, the proverbial death of a thousand cuts.

The state owns the submerged lands out to 12 miles in the Gulf of Mexico. Our continual use of the beaches throughout Texas history and an abundance of case law holds that private individuals can own beachfront property up to the “mean high tide,” or the seaward vegetation line of the sand dunes; however, a historically recognized public easement reserves the dry beach for public use and enjoyment. The crux of this issue is what happens when the shoreline is drastically altered by “avulsion” — violent storms such as hurricanes.

The Texas court's ruling led the General Land office to cancel a $40 million beach restoration project on western Galveston Island, saying the beaches all had been eroded by Hurricane Ike in 2008 and were now private.

The people of Texas say its public.
A lawyer in CA and the TX supreme court in say its for a few.
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Seaway pipeline sends oil to Texas in historic reversal

Seaway pipeline sends oil to Texas in historic reversal | Texas Coast Real Estate | Scoop.it

The Seaway pipeline began pumping crude from Cushing, Oklahoma, oil tanks to the heart of the U.S. refining industry in Houston on Saturday, marking a historic shift in the way oil flows across the United States.


The startup is the first direct link from Cushing to the Gulf Coast, the biggest U.S. refining center. Cushing is the delivery and storage point for the U.S. benchmark oil futures contract, which represents a blend of crudes from the Midwestern states. It has been landlocked in Cushing and steeply discounted to world prices as a result.


The average motorist will not see much, if any, difference in gasoline pump price but oil producers and Gulf Coast refiners expect profits to improve.


Many argue the reversal is the start of a trend toward reduced U.S. dependence on crude from the Middle East and elsewhere overseas.


The first oil will take 12 days to reach Houston, 550 miles south of Cushing, but market anticipation of the event already has lifted inland crude prices in North America, although analysts disagree how much and how fast prices will change with the reversal of Seaway.

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TWIA Board Approves Premium Rate Hike

TWIA Board Approves Premium Rate Hike | Texas Coast Real Estate | Scoop.it

The Texas Windstorm Insurance Association's board of directors approved a 5 percent premium rate increase.


As the state-run insurer of last resort for Texas’ coastal residents, TWIA insures against catastrophic hurricane damage. But the organization went underwater after Hurricane Ike slammed into Texas in 2008.


Earlier this year, TWIA hired the consulting firm Merlinos and Associates to evaluate how financially sound the company is under the current rate structure.


Using catastrophe modeling to estimate the likelihood of hurricane damage in various coastal areas, the firm also determined the Harris County bay and Galveston County beach were the riskiest areas for hurricane damage.


The firm’s analysis also showed there’s more than a 1 in 4 chance that TWIA would not be able to cover all liabilities with current financing and TWIA may need additional funding up to $4.8 billion to cover a “1-in-100-year event.”


Other representatives of the Galveston area, including a county judge, city council member and former mayor, also spoke in opposition to the proposed territorial rate changes at the meeting. They asked the board to delay the vote until a coastal representative was sitting on the board. There is currently a vacancy on the board for a first-tier coastal county resident who must be appointed by the insurance commissioner.


TWIA is also under administrative oversight by the Texas Department of Insurance, which is also considering further restructuring the organization.

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Lessons from Hurricane Ike prompts action on Texas coast

Lessons from Hurricane Ike prompts action on Texas coast | Texas Coast Real Estate | Scoop.it

In the new book "Lessons from Hurricane Ike," Rice University severe-storm expert Phil Bedient and more than 20 researchers from the Severe Storm Prediction, Education and Evacuation from Disasters (SSPEED) Center give a 194-page accounting of all they have learned in more than two years of studying Ike, which caused nearly $25 billion damage and killed dozens.


"Lessons from Hurricane Ike" is not a textbook. Its 12 chapters summarize key information about specific topics like storm prediction and emergency planning. The writing is accessible and easy for nonexperts to understand, and each chapter is accompanied by a provocative collection of color photos, diagrams, maps and illustrations. The result is a contextual work that uses the latest science has to offer to contrast Ike with both past storms and future storms.


"This book should be read by anyone in an official capacity who desires a deeper understanding of the complexities of developing in the hurricane impact zone," wrote National Hurricane Center Director Bill Read in a review on the book's back cover.


"Particular attention should be paid to the chapter on 'Steps to the Future,' which I found very insightful in addressing the daunting task before the next 'Big One' impacts the Texas Gulf Coast."


Bedient, Rice's Herman Brown Professor of Engineering and one of the world's foremost flooding experts, co-wrote three chapters of the book. Blackburn, professor in the practice of environmental law in Rice's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, co-wrote the final chapter, "Steps to the Future."


That chapter compares a variety of structural and nonstructural storm-protection proposals, including the 100-mile "Ike Dike" seawall, a floodgate at the mouth of the Houston Ship Channel and a national recreation area to preserve wetlands as natural flood barriers.

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South Padre Island Vacation Rental Famous for Birding Listed for Free

South Padre Island Vacation Rental Famous for Birding Listed for Free | Texas Coast Real Estate | Scoop.it

Casa Mariposa, South Padre Island, located behind the Valley Land Fund's bird sanctuary, is the perfect destination for birders looking for relaxation, comfort and the ultimate birding experience.


Casa Mariposa is just steps away from some of the Island's finest attractions. Loaded with charm, the inn is walking distance to great restaurants, shopping, a museum, and the best beach on the Gulf of Mexico.


Bobzio.com is a co-op of vacation rental owners, home exchanges and area services, with free lifetime listings for owners of vacation rentals.

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Corpus Christi will spend Millions to lure a Schlitterbahn Waterpark

Corpus Christi will spend Millions to lure a Schlitterbahn Waterpark | Texas Coast Real Estate | Scoop.it

A $117 million incentives package is being proposed to lure Schlitterbahn water park resort to Corpus Christi with the bulk of the public money tied to performance of a master plan for Padre Island.


Investors Paul Schexnailder, Willard Hammonds and the Henry family that owns Schlitterbahn Texas water park chain are proposing a $552 million master plan on Padre Island.


The 574-acre plan, which includes a small portion of Lake Padre adjacent to Park Road 22 and a large tract of land west of the highway, includes a marina, a Schlitterbahn water park with lodging, a golf course and residential property that includes rental town homes and condos and single-family homes.


Schexnailder owns the property. Hammonds is handling the private equity fundraising. The Henrys are building the Schlitterbahn resort.


The master plans, an experience Schexnailder has compared to the San Antonio Riverwalk on a smaller scale, hinges on a bridge being built along Park Road 22. The entire project is expected to take at least 18 years to build.

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UTMB report Affordable housing needed

UTMB report Affordable housing needed | Texas Coast Real Estate | Scoop.it

A lack of affordable housing on the island is likely to affect the health and development of children on the island, according to a brief developed by the University of Texas Medical Branch Center to Eliminate Health Disparities.


The report, released this month amid a political debate about the Galveston Housing Authority’s plan to rebuild public housing, said that as rates for rental housing have increased, affordable housing on the island has dropped.


While the current vacancy rate is high compared to other cities, that rate is a “structural feature of resort housing markets,” the brief said. While Galveston boasts a 38-percent vacant housing unit rate, of which about half is seasonal housing, Destin, Fla., has a 60 percent vacancy rate, of which about half is seasonal.


Port Aransas has a vacancy rate of nearly 57 percent, of which 40 percent is seasonal, and South Padre Island has an 80 percent vacancy rate, of which 60 percent is seasonal housing.

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Crystal Beach Bolivar revival after the storm

Crystal Beach Bolivar revival after the storm | Texas Coast Real Estate | Scoop.it

Brightly painted turquoise and neon green homes visibly clash with the tanned sandy beachfront. The spiced smell of lumber competes with the salty air, and beyond the thundering ocean breeze, drilling and hammering clamor from a symphony of power tools.


These contradictions exist all along Bolivar Peninsula, as larger and more expensive homes are shooting up along the beachfront, catering to an older and financially better-off clientele.


Cheap land right after Hurricane Ike compelled a few former residents like Becky Cluck and her husband Rusty to buy up property at bargain prices and start rebuilding and renting out vacation homes.


Although the price of a rental averages about $1,600 per week - pricier than before the 2008 storm local favorite Swedes Real Estate is booked solid for the July 4th weekend already.

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What if housing doesn’t recover for another decade?

What if housing doesn’t recover for another decade? | Texas Coast Real Estate | Scoop.it
Shiller of the famed Case-Shiller Index came out only a few days ago stating that housing may not recover for over a decade.  As dire as this may sound, we have a similar example to look at in Japan.  It wasn’t like he stated this just to cause a stir but talked about compressed household wages, record low mortgage rates, and a large pipeline of distressed inventory.  Even though real estate values are now down 35 percent from their peak taking values back to 2002 (a lost decade) we would need to increase housing values nationwide by 50+ percent to get back to the peak.  This is what he was discussing about home values not recovering to that price point
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