2014 In With the New

Out With The Old, In With the New

by Celia Hayes

The New Year, that is. Bye-bye to 2013, hello to 2014; this an exception to the saying about preferring a known evil to the one you know nothing of, but then it’s not like we have a choice. Here we go, on a rocket-launch into the unknown, willy-nilly – without any guidance save being certain to eat black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day.

I looked back at certain resolutions that I made at the end of 2012 – sell the relatively useless (to me) property I owned in California and buy a piece of Texas paradise, finish my next book and sell a great quantity of copies of all my books at year-end events, to switch over from a national bank to a Texas establishment for all my banking needs, pay off a major creditor, ditch cable television and switch over to a Roku box with internet video amusements for an evening, and to have an extensive vegetable garden in my back yard. Yea, verily – I wanted to have enough vegetables and greens for all our dining needs for a good part of the year, and that is one of the things that I still want to happen. I did accomplish just about all the other items, though – selling the California property, paying off the credit union, switching to Frost Bank, ditching cable TV, and the book – The Quivera Trail – was finished on time, too. Alas, I did not have quite as much in sales at various events as previous experience led me to expect; it seems that everyone was counting the pennies this year. Not that I mind, as I was counting them myself.

And there were some unexpected things which happened this last year as well; the transmission of my daughter’s car needed a rebuild, the sale of the property allowed us to afford a totally rebuild of the HVAC system in the house, one of the cats died (of old age – dear old Sammy!) but we acquired another, a kitten who promises to be as large, friendly and eccentric as Sammy … and another dog, a dump-ee in the neighborhood. This one is mostly terrier and thinks he is a cat, being nimble, insanely intelligent and totally fearless. We call him Nemo because … we found him. We also found a mountain bike – abandoned in the creek-bed which runs through the neighborhood. No one has claimed it yet, so I can see that biking the various trails along the San Antonio creek greenways is in our future.

The garden simply has to happen – that is a given. Raised beds, edible stuff grown in various patches, the folding plastic greenhouse made complete use of … and the dog poop cleared out on a more regular basis. In a few days, I will call the tree guy who works our neighborhood to come and sort out the magnificent mulberry which shades the back yard – which was butchered almost to the point of dying, first by the local utility crew clearing away errant branches from the power-lines, and then a couple of years of serious drought. It recovered, but this winter it simply has to be shaped properly into a dense and compact lollipop of a shade tree. And the pair of weed shrubs which planted themselves and grew into small saplings have to go – as well as the red-leaved photina which the first owner of my house planted too darned close to the house. That will give scope to re-doing the front entryway; those are my plans for the 2014. What are yours?

IH 35 Road Trip Part 2

IH 35 Road Trip – Part 2

by Celia Hayes

The road was long, and went on and on in the dark. I thought that we’d see the sunrise about the time that we passed Round Rock, but no – thanks to daylight savings time, we didn’t see it even begin to get light until we passed through Waco. At that juncture, something moved us to want to take a break. Well, actually three things moved us: we were getting hungry again, my daughter wanted to top up the gas tank, and we both needed to use the bathroom facilities. And there was a billboard advertising the Czech Stop Bakery, and not a truck plaza or another Buc’ees in sight, in a little hiccup of a town called West. So, pull off the highway onto the access road, looking for the Czech Stop – easily found, by the way. If the giant lighted sign isn’t a clue, the packed parking lot in front of it ought to be.

I bought two plain kolaches, which they obligingly heated for me, and I wish, I wish, I so wish that I had bought a box of sweet pastries to carry on to Fort Worth with me, for the kolaches were magnificent; savory and flavorful lengths of kielbasa-like sausage, enveloped in a yeasty pillow of bread dough. I looked around the bakery – even at that hour, there was a line in front of the counter. After the fact, I discover that the Czech Stop is famed far and wide. Some commenters on foodie websites even swear that it’s worth the drive all the way from San Antonio for the sweet and savory pastries. I don’t know as I’d drive that far, gas being what it is, but if it is along your way, the Czech Stop is most definitely worth it.

On and on we went, making the interesting discovery that winter still held sway. It was actually darned chilly, and I was particularly grateful for the sweaters and jackets that my daughter had left in her car. I left my San Antonio home in shirtsleeves – and four hours later, there was white stuff caked in the grass along the side of the road, where the pavement met dirt. It had been so long since I had actually seen it, it took a few moments to recognize the remnants of snow. Yes, indeedy – Palm Sunday weekend, and snow along IH-35 coming into Fort Worth – while it’s shirtsleeve warm in San Antonio, with the wisteria and roses are all in bloom.

The next attractive bit of roadside business managed to enchant us thoroughly, even at a passing speed of 70 MPH – and that was the Rustic Creek Ranch, which hove into sight as we were approaching the outlaying fringes of Fort Worth. An extensive waterpark-playground feature, an RV park, grounds landscaped so extensively as to make your average KOA look like a dump … and the rental cottages on-site! Oh, my – I looked them up online as soon as we got home that evening, after an incredibly, horribly, very long day. The Rustic Creek features luxury cottages, with bells on. Oh, did we wish that we could have rented a cottage there, instead of the long drive back and forth. I would have so loved to sink into a double bed, piled high with quilts … Well, I did – I just had to wait until I got home.

And that was our spring road trip. When we make it back in the fall, for an evening author event, we are scheming how to fit in a short stay at the Rustic Creek Ranch. It all depends on how my books sell!


Lackland BMT Graduation Parade

On Parade

by Celia Hayes

The son of our neighbor whom my daughter encouraged to enlist in the military graduated last Friday from basic training. And because my daughter is close to Sylvester’s family, we both went down to Lackland for the graduation parade. There is certainly a great deal more pomp and circumstance laid on for these things now. When I finished basic, early in the spring of 1977, they did nothing much more than hand us our orders and travel vouchers, and tell us to pack our duffle bags and clear out of the training squadron dorm … which we were quite happy to do, let me tell you. I’ve never since been able to endure the sight of concrete block walls and industrial linoleum with out the miserable feeling that someone was about to appear, their heel-taps clicking like castanets and begin shouting at me. I couldn’t have imagined my parents and family schlepping all the way to Texas for three or four days, either … but such was the case when I came back to Lackland for my final tour of duty. It’s all very much expanded now – there is even a regular visitor’s center for the families, in what I recall as the Skylark Recreation center – the recruit airman trainee’s home away from home.

Even then, the place had changed from what I recalled – not that I could recall much, since most of the time I was outside, I was in the middle of a formation with a view restricted to the back of the neck of the woman in front of me. Most of the old WWII-era two-story temporary buildings had been torn down by 1995, and even more of them are gone now. Lackland used to be blocks and blocks of those old buildings, shaped rather like the little white-painted Monopoly hotel tokens, interspersed with a chapel, or a single-story office complex. But all gone now – replaced with new buildings, some of them very imposing.

The old base HQ is gone – now there’s a grand, glass-walled building on the far side of the parade ground. And the parade ground itself – which had a number of historic aircraft on static display around the perimeter when I retired in 1997, now has even more historic aircraft and all of them in much better repair. Seventy years worth of aircraft – trainers and fighters, bombers and transport, jet-propelled and piston-engine, single or multi-engine, and relics of every war since WWII. Some of them are fairly common – but one or two are rare birds indeed; like the Twin Mustang long-range fighter escort. It was designed and built at the end of WWII; two engines and two fuselages, connected by a short stretch of airfoil.

It looks like a sort of aeronautical Siamese twin, but there are only five of them still in existence, and one of them is on display at the Lackland Parade ground. It’s worth a trip to the base for an enthusiast, just to walk around and look at all the classic aircraft. I don’t think there is a place any closer than Wright Patterson AFB which has so many aircraft on permanent display in one small area.

The graduation parades are every Friday morning at 9:00 – come for the parade, stay for the aircraft.

For all your San Antonio Real Estate needs, Contact Us Today!

Caterpillar Opens in Victoria

Gov. Perry Attends Grand Opening of Caterpillar Manufacturing Facility

Thursday, August 23, 2012  •  Victoria, Texas  •  Press Release

Gov. Rick Perry toured Caterpillar Inc.’s new hydraulic excavator manufacturing plant, which has been expanded thanks to a $1.175 million investment from the Texas Enterprise Fund (TEF) in 2010. Caterpillar has already created 225 new jobs and will generate $200 million in capital investment with the new facility, and plans to continue hiring in Victoria.

“Caterpillar is no stranger to the way we do business here in Texas, and they’ve made it clear, through commitment after commitment, they like what they see,” Gov. Perry said. “We happily return that sentiment and remain committed to our successful formula of low taxes, predictable regulations, fair courts and skilled workforce that has made Texas’ jobs climate second to none.”

Gov. Perry also congratulated Caterpillar on finding the right place for this facility in Victoria and making the right call to build in Texas, and congratulated Victoria on officially becoming home to this manufacturing center which expands Caterpillar’s presence in Texas to include about 3,000 employees.

Caterpillar is the world’s leading manufacturer of construction and mining equipment, diesel and natural gas engines and industrial gas turbines. The new plant triples the company’s current domestic production capacity for hydraulic excavators, and doubles the number of Caterpillar employees in the U.S. making excavators.

“This new facility in Victoria will help us better serve our customers in North America, and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to meet some of our newest employees and to see first-hand a factory that I am sure will be among the very best we have anywhere in the world,” Caterpillar Chairman and CEO Doug Oberhelman said.

In 2008, the company received an $8.5 million investment through the TEF to bring an engine manufacturing facility to Seguin, creating more than 1,400 jobs $111 million in capital investment. Caterpillar also has operating locations across the state, including Amarillo, Channelview, Coppell, Dallas, Denison, De Soto, El Paso, Fort Worth, Garland, Houston, Laredo, Mabank, McAllen, McKinney, Midland, Sherman, Waco and Waskom.

The Legislature created the TEF in 2003 and has re-appropriated funding in every legislative session since then to help ensure the growth of Texas businesses and create more jobs throughout the state. TEF projects must be approved by the governor, lieutenant governor and speaker of the House. The fund has since become one of the state’s most competitive tools to recruit and bolster business. To date, the TEF has invested more than $470 million and closed the deal on projects generating more than 63,400 new jobs and more than $22.3 billion in capital investment in the state.

For more information about Caterpillar, please visit http://www.caterpillar.com.

For more information about the TEF, please visit http://www.texaswideopenforbusiness.com/incentives-financing/tef.php or http://www.governor.state.tx.us.

November 2011 San Antonio Real Estate Sales Statistics

Written by Randy Watson

November 2011Off-Season Buying Trends Affect Housing Sales and Prices

The San Antonio Board of Realtors (SABOR) released their monthly housing report for the month. 1239 Single family residential homes closed, a 2% decrease from November 2010. The average price declined 8% for a single family home compared to November 2010.

“This month, we saw a sales decrease for homes priced between $200,000 and $500,000, as well as homes priced above the halfmillion dollar mark,” said Scott Caballero, SABOR’s 2011 Chairman of the Board.

  • 1,239 single-family residential homes sold in November 2011.
  • $174,861 is the average price of a single-family home, a 8% decrease from November 2010.
  • $145,500 is the Median price of a single-family home, a 5% decrease from November 2010.
  • Approximately 7 Months – Months of inventory in November 2011.
SABOR is preparing for its January 5th Housing Forecast. The event features real estate experts who will provide insight on market trends and will offer predictions on how the market will fare in 2012.
Market data is compiled by the San Antonio Board of Realtors Press Release from the Multiple Listing Service report.

Press Release by National Association of Realtors October 2011 Existing-Home Sales Information

by Randy Watson

October Existing-Home Sales Rise, Unsold Inventory Continues to Decline

For more information, contact:

Walter Molony 202-383-1177 wmolony@realtors.org

Washington, DC, November 21, 2011 Existing-home sales improved in October while the number of homes on the market continued to decline, according to the National Association of Realtors®.

Total existing-home sales1, which are completed transactions that include single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, rose 1.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.97 million in October from a downwardly revised 4.90 million in September, and are 13.5 percent above the 4.38 million unit level in October 2010.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said the market has been fairly steady but at a lower than desired level. “Home sales have been stuck in a narrow range despite several improving factors that generally lead to higher home sales such as job creation, rising rents and high affordability conditions. Many people who are attempting to buy homes are thwarted in the process,” he said.

“A higher rate of contract failures has held back a sales recovery. Contract failures2 reported by NAR members jumped to 33 percent in October from 18 percent in September, and were only 8 percent a year ago, so we should be seeing stronger sales,” Yun added.

Contract failures are cancellations caused by declined mortgage applications, failures in loan underwriting from appraised values coming in below the negotiated price, or other problems including home inspections and employment losses. “Other recent factors include disruption in the National Flood Insurance Program, and lower loan limits for conventional mortgages, which paradoxically force some of the most creditworthy consumers to pay unnecessarily higher interest rates,” Yun said.

According to Freddie Mac, the national average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage fell to a record low 4.07 percent in October from 4.11 percent in September; the rate was 4.23 percent in October 2010.

NAR President Moe Veissi, broker-owner of Veissi & Associates Inc., in Miami, said consumers can increase their odds of obtaining a mortgage by being aware of how credit scores are determined. “If you want to get a mortgage, don’t buy a car or take on new installment debt or credit cards,” he said.

“Pay all your bills on time, maintain old credit lines and don’t use more than 30 percent of your credit limit. Realtors® can help you understand the issues surrounding access to affordable credit, in addition to helping you find the right home and negotiate terms,” Veissi said.

An ongoing positive trend is a steady decline in the number of homes on the market. Total housing inventory at the end of October fell 2.2 percent to 3.33 million existing homes available for sale, which represents an 8.0-month supply3 at the current sales pace, down from an 8.3-month supply in September. Inventories have been trending gradually down since setting a record of 4.58 million in July 2008.

The national median existing-home price4 for all housing types was $162,500 in October, which is 4.7 percent below October 2010. Distressed homes – foreclosures and short sales typically sold at deep discounts – slipped to 28 percent of sales in October from 30 percent in September (17 percent were foreclosures and 11 percent were short sales); they were 34 percent in October 2010.

“In some areas we’re hearing about shortages of foreclosure inventory in the lower price ranges with multiple bidding on the more desirable properties,” Yun said. “Realtors® in such areas are calling for a faster process of getting foreclosure inventory into the market because they have ready buyers. In addition, extending credit to responsible investors would help to absorb inventory at an even faster pace, which would go a long way toward restoring market balance.”

All-cash sales accounted for 29 percent of purchases in October, little changed from 30 percent in September and 29 percent in October 2010; investors make up the bulk of cash transactions.

Investors purchased 18 percent of homes in October, compared with 19 percent in September and 19 percent in October 2010. First-time buyers accounted for 34 percent of transactions in October, up from 32 percent in September; they were 32 percent in October 2010.

Single-family home sales increased 1.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.38 million in October from 4.31 million in September, and are 13.8 percent higher than the 3.85 million-unit pace one year ago. The median existing single-family home price was $161,600 in October, which is 5.8 percent below October 2010.

Existing condominium and co-op sales were unchanged at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 590,000 in October but are 10.5 percent above the 534,000-unit level in October 2010. The median existing condo price5 was $160,300 in October, down 1.5 percent from a year ago.

Regionally, existing-home sales in the Northeast fell 5.1 percent to an annual level of 750,000 in October but are 1.4 percent above October 2010. The median price in the Northeast was $224,400, down 5.5 percent from a year ago.

Existing-home sales in the Midwest rose 2.8 percent in October to a pace of 1.10 million and are 19.6 percent higher than October 2010. The median price in the Midwest was $132,800, which is 4.7 percent below a year ago.

In the South, existing-home sales increased 2.1 percent to an annual level of 1.94 million in October and are 14.1 percent above a year ago. The median price in the South was $145,700, down 1.6 percent from October 2010.

Existing-home sales in the West rose 4.4 percent to an annual pace of 1.19 million in October and are 15.5 percent higher than October 2010. The median price in the West was $207,500, which is 1.6 percent below a year ago.

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1.1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

# # #

NOTE: NAR also tracks monthly comparisons of existing single-family home sales and median prices for select metropolitan statistical areas, which is posted with other tables at: www.realtor.org/research/research/ehsdata. For information on areas not included in the report, please contact the local association of Realtors®.

1Existing-home sales, which include single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, are based on transaction closings. This differs from the U.S. Census Bureau’s series on new single-family home sales, which are based on contracts or the acceptance of a deposit. Because of these differences, it is not uncommon for each series to move in different directions in the same month. In addition, existing-home sales, which generally account for 85 to 90 percent of total home sales, are based on a much larger sample – more than 40 percent of multiple listing service data each month – and typically are not subject to large prior-month revisions.

The annual rate for a particular month represents what the total number of actual sales for a year would be if the relative pace for that month were maintained for 12 consecutive months. Seasonally adjusted annual rates are used in reporting monthly data to factor out seasonal variations in resale activity. For example, home sales volume is normally higher in the summer than in the winter, primarily because of differences in the weather and family buying patterns. However, seasonal factors cannot compensate for abnormal weather patterns.

Single-family data collection began monthly in 1968, while condo data collection began quarterly in 1981; the series were combined in 1999 when monthly collection of condo data began. Prior to this period, single-family homes accounted for more than nine out of 10 purchases. Historic comparisons for total home sales prior to 1999 are based on monthly single-family sales, combined with the corresponding quarterly sales rate for condos.

Benchmark Revisions: All major statistical data series go through periodic reviews and revisions to ensure that sampling and methodology keep up with changes in the market, such as population changes in sampled areas, to ensure accuracy. NAR began its normal process for benchmarking sales at the beginning of this year in consultation with government agencies, outside housing economists and academic experts.

There will be no change to median prices or months-supply of inventory. Although there will be downward revisions to sales volume and unsold inventory, there will be no notable change to previous characterizations of the market in terms of sales trends, monthly percentage changes, etc.

In the past NAR has benchmarked to the decennial Census, most recently to the 2000 Census, because it included home sales data. However, the data are no longer included in the Census, so we’ve had to develop a new approach using an independent source to improve methodology and to permit more frequent revisions.

Preliminary data for the new benchmark will undergo broad review shortly by professional economists and government agencies. After any issues that may surface in the review process are addressed, we will update monthly seasonal adjustment factors and publish revisions.

2 Contract failures, all-cash transactions, investors, first-time buyers, and distressed sales are from a monthly survey for the Realtors® Confidence Index, posted at Realtor.org.

3Total inventory and month’s supply data are available back through 1999, while single-family inventory and month’s supply are available back to 1982 (prior to 1999, condos were measured quarterly while single-family sales accounted for more than 90 percent of transactions).

4The only valid comparisons for median prices are with the same period a year earlier due to the seasonality in buying patterns. Month-to-month comparisons do not compensate for seasonal changes, especially for the timing of family buying patterns. Changes in the composition of sales can distort median price data. Year-ago median and mean prices sometimes are revised in an automated process if more data is received than was originally reported.

5Because there is a concentration of condos in high-cost metro areas, the national median condo price often is higher than the median single-family price. In a given market area, condos typically cost less than single-family homes.

The Pending Home Sales Index for October will be released November 30, and existing-home sales for November is scheduled for December 21. The Commercial Real Estate Outlook and market report for the 3rd quarter will be published November 28; all release times are 10:00 a.m. EST.

Information about NAR is available at www.realtor.org. This and other news releases are posted in the News Media section. Statistical data in this release, other tables and surveys also may be found by clicking on Research.

REALTOR® is a registered collective membership mark which may be used only by real estate professionals who are members of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® and subscribe to its strict Code of Ethics. Not all real estate agents are REALTORS®. All REALTOR® are members of NAR.



Texas Agriculture Sales Tax Exemption Number

 Farmers and Ranchers Require Agriculture Sales Tax Exemption Number

Written by Randy Watson

Texas Farmers and Ranchers… Have you submitted your application for a Texas Agriculture and Timber Exemption Registration Number? (Ag/Timber Number.) Under a new state law passed by the Texas Legislature in 2011, commercial agriculture or timber producers will need an Ag/Timber Number issued by the Comptroller’s office to make eligible sales tax-exempt purchases for their business.

Beginning January 1, 2012 in order to make sales tax exempt agricultural related purchases you must have this number. To claim the sales tax exemption from the Texas Sales tax, the item being purchased must be used in the regular course of business exclusively on a farm or ranch in the production of agricultural products or exclusively to produce timber products for sale.

How do you get your registration number? There are 2 ways to register.

Apply online at www.getreadytexas.org. It’s a fairly simple straight forward application. Log in or create an account at the Texas Comptroller Office’s “MyCPA” website. Once you have an “MyCPA” account you’ll need basic information about your operation, such as business name, description and address, you will need your Social Security number (for internal use only). Businesses registered with the Texas Secretary of State (SOS) (Corporations, LLC’s, etc.) will need to provide the file number as well. You can find it using the SOS Taxable Entity Search.

You can print a copy of your confirmation letter upon completion, or write the registration number down. Texas will mail you a confirmation later on the next business day after the application has been completed.

Or you may apply on Paper. If you prefer to apply for your registration number via a paper application, you can do one of the following:
Download the paper application from the Comptroller’s website: AP-228 Application for Texas Agricultural and Timber Exemption Registration Number (PDF); or Call 1-800-252-5555 to request that a copy of the application be mailed to you.

Once complete, mail your application to the address provided on the form. Mailed applications may take three to four weeks to process, and you will not receive your number instantly (as you will through the online application). Once your mailed application is processed, you will receive your registration number in the mail.


The following items are always exempt and an Ag/Timber Number is not required:

  • Horses, mules and work animals commonly used in agricultural
  • Animal life, the products of which ordinarily constitute food for human consumption, such as cattle, goats, sheep, chickens, turkeys and hogs
  • Feed, including oats, corn, chicken scratch and hay, for farm and
  • Seeds and annual plants, the products of which are commonly recognized as food for humans or animals,such as corn, oats and soybeans) or for fiber, such as cotton seed.

What activities DO NOT qualify and are not eligible for a sales tax exemption?

  • home gardening
  • horse racing, boarding or training
  • trail rides and zoos
  • florists or similar retailers who maintain plants prior to sale
  • wildlife management and conservation
  • hunting and fishing operations, including aerial hunting
  • predator control and/or wildlife/livestock
  • censuses or surveys
  • commercial fishing
  • companion animal (pet) breeding and kennels

Who DOES qualify for a sales tax exemtion and is eligible for a Texas Agricultural and Timber Exemption Number?

A person, including a non-Texas resident, engaged in the production of agricultural or timber products for sale in the regular course of business is eligible for a registration number. This number can be used to claim an exemption from Texas sales tax on the purchase of qualifying items. Included for eligibility for registration numbers are persons in these groups

  • farmers and ranchers who raise agricultural products to sell to others
  • persons engaged in aquaculture and apiculture; (i.e. commercial fish farms or bee keepers)
  • custom harvesters
  • persons engaged in agricultural aircraft operations, as defined by 14 C.F.R. Section 137.3 (crop dusting)
  • commercial nurseries engaged in fostering growth of plants for sale (i.e., growing stock from seed or cuttings, replanting seedlings in larger containers)
  • timber producers, including contract lumberjacks
For more information visit their website www.window.state.tx.us/taxinfo/agriculture or call toll-free 800-252-5555

October 2011 San Antonio Real Estate Sales Statistics

October 2011 San Antonio Real Estate Sales Statistics

Written by Randy Watson


The San Antonio Board of Realtors (SABOR) released their monthly housing report for the month. The October 2011 report indicated that 1349 single-family residential homes sold compared to 1285 homes that sold in October 2010.

“The healthcare, tourism, and defense industries have a major economic impact here, but there are also many financial services and manufacturing companies that provide opportunities for the local workforce,” says Scott Caballero, 2011 SABOR Chairman of the Board. “Eagle Ford Shale is said to bring nearly 4,000 jobs to the area as well. San Antonio’s cost of living supports the healthy economic climate. The steady, affordable housing market is proving to be a major piece of how San Antonio fares overall.”

  • 1349 single-family residential homes sold in October 2011.
  • $182,304 is the average price of a single-family home, a 1% decrease from October 2010.
  • $149,500 is the Median price of a single-family home, a 1% decrease from October 2010.

San Antonio ranked number 5 by USAA and military.com for Military Retirees to launch their second career. Forbes’ 2011 Best Cities for Jobs ranked San Antonio number 4 for large cities.

Market data is compiled by the San Antonio Board of Realtors from the Multiple Listing Service report.




by Randy Watson


November 18, 2011
Copyright 2011. All rights reserved.

Material herein is published according to the fair-use doctrine of U.S. copyright laws related to non-profit, educational institutions. Items attributed to sources other than the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University should not be reprinted without permission of the original source.

HOUSTON (Real Estate Center) – Add “baked goods” to the list of colorful analogies used to compare Texas’ relatively strong economy to that of the United States. That’s what State Comptroller Susan Combs did at yesterday’s 2012 Forecast Conference in Houston.

“The U.S. has what has been referred to as a ‘Twinkie economy,’” she said. “There are no natural ingredients. [Texas is] whole wheat, if you want to take a look at us versus the U.S. economy.”

Combs was speaking to a crowd of more than 400 business leaders, developers and students at the half-day event, which was presented by Urban Land Institute Houston and the Real Estate Center.

“We are now, as an economy, more diverse than either of our neighbors Canada or Mexico,” Combs said. “Our GDP, per capita, since 2001, [has] been larger than the U.S. every single year.”

Texas has lost about 4 percent of its jobs since the beginning of the recession, less than the United States (6 percent). Of those jobs, Combs said Texas has replaced about 90 percent, while the U.S. has replaced 23 percent.

“What’s more interesting to me is oil and gas,” Combs said. “Oil and gas lost well over 20 percent. They lost over 47,000 jobs. They’ve now regained more than that — about 57,000.”

Those jobs come with high wages, which helps drive sales tax revenue.

“The average weekly wage in the Eagle Ford is $2,764, about $140,000 per year,\” Combs said. \”Texas’ average is $940. So sales tax is being driven largely by the oil and gas sector. And sales tax is about 64 or 66 percent of all tax revenue. So when you’ve got a very aggressive, positive cycle of activity in oil and gas, it helps a lot.”

Although Combs focused largely on the positive aspects of the state economy, she didn\’t shy away from the challenges facing an ever-growing, ever-changing Texas. One of the biggest is meeting the educational needs of the state as its demographic shifts to predominantly Hispanic, a group that historically has had a lower educational attainment than Anglos.

According to U.S. Census Bureau data, 43 percent of Hispanics in Texas did not have a high school diploma in 2009, compared with 8 percent of non-Hispanic whites. In addition, Combs said 50 percent of Anglos have college degrees.

The result is a disparity in how much each group earns: Hispanic households in Texas earn, on average, $29,000 per year. The average Anglo household brings home $47,000.

In short, Texas is juggling huge growth, shifting demographics and challenges in both public and higher education.

\”We have to manage all these in some better way than we are doing now,” Combs said.


Halliburton Begins Construction of Base of Operation in San Antonio

Halliburton Jobs Come to San Antonio for the Eagle Ford Shale

Written by

The Eagle Ford shale operations may be the largest oil field ever discovered in Texas. They are predicting millions and millions of dollars worth of oil and hundreds to tens of thousands of new oil related jobs from San Antonio throughout South Texas. Houston based oilfield giant Halliburton, the world leader in the oilfield service industry with operation in more than 70 countries began work on a $50 million base of operation in San Antonio. The planned 400,000 square foot structure will be located near I37 and Loop 1604 in southeast Bexar County.

Halliburton’s major business segment is the Energy Services Group which provides technical products and services to petroleum and natural gas exploration and production. This new facility will employ 1500 workers to support it’s operation in the Eagle Ford shale. Our many military veterans and military retirees may find employment in the oilfield industry. Many of these jobs are higher paying jobs in the $70,000/year to well over $100,000 per year jobs range and may require specialized training or miniumum of a 4 year or advanced degrees such as a PhD. Texas A&M San Antonio campus is nearby.

Employment will not be limited to the oil fields directly. The facility will require administration and laboratory personel as well as those in the high tech fields, engineers, geologists and chemists. In addition to truck drivers; mechanics and automotive technicians will be required to service their fleet of trucks at the new facility. Halliburton hopes to hire locally 75 percent of the anticipated 1500 employees.

Halliburton’s base of operation is to be fully operational by 2013. Bexar County Judge, Nelson Wolff reportedly said that the precense of Halliburton should aid the region’s economy as a whole and boost demand for higher-end housing. Early seat of the pants reports indicate that San Antonio’s high end/luxury communities such as the Dominion and even Boerne’s Cordillero Ranch are already seeing interest from oil related business professionals wanting to relocate to San Antonio. Even surrounding communitities such as Floresville real estate and Pleasanton may see a increase in demand for housing.

Baker Hughes, Weatherford International and Schlumberger have also announced multimillion dollar facilities to be built in southeast Bexar County and will be hiring hundreds to support their operations as well.