GHP supports tax reform plan, Houston comparatives, improving HOV lanes, and competitive home-buildingAgain, an accumulation of minor items of interest into one post:
- The Greater Houston Partnership announced today its support for the Texas Tax Reform Commission plan, which could save almost a billion dollars a year for Harris County taxpayers. I'm not a tax policy expert, but it seems like a pretty good and fair plan to me.
- Some neat stats and comparisons on Houston's size from Metroblogging Houston.
- Go to this Fed report and scroll down to the third graph to see how much better Houston has had it through the last recession vs. the other major cities in Texas. The tables have certainly turned from the late-90s hot tech cities of Dallas and Austin.
- A professor on improving HOV lane performance. Bottom line: throughput is improved significantly on a per lane basis by having more than one lane, which enables passing. Bodes well for our future 2/4 managed-lane plans, starting with the new Katy Freeway.
- I really enjoyed Nancy Sarnoff's article in today's Chronicle Business section on the tight home-builder margins in Houston, and I have to excerpt some of the paragraphs:
It's nice to see a positive article on the benefits of growth, limited bureaucratic red tape, and competition - as well as noting the linkage between affordability and quality of life.
Drive almost any direction from the city center, and one thing remains constant: home building, and lots of it.
While new-home sales are dipping nationally, builders are putting up — and madly selling — thousands of homes around Houston.
The number of sales were up 19 percent in February from the same month last year, according to estimates from Metrostudy, a local consulting firm.
"To our surprise, we're off to the best year in our company's history," said Will Holder, an executive with Houston-based Trendmaker Homes. "It's absolutely remarkable."
But what's a blessing for some builders can be a curse for others.
Rising costs for land and materials are shrinking profit margins in Houston's booming housing market, where competition limits price increases, and a couple of builders are leaving to focus on other cities.
More builders, however, are coming to Houston than going, he said.
Most of them come here because the region's strong job growth means more buyers, and the vast amount of available land and lack of government controls means far less red tape for builders than in other markets.
"The one thing we've always been able to point to is job growth," said Justin Bono, vice president of operations for Pulte Homes in Houston. "When you're growing jobs, and people are getting new jobs, the first big purchase is a home."
Houston's lower new-home prices are enticing to a wide range of buyers.
This year, Gilpin has seen an increase in buyers from out of state looking for investment properties. She's already sold five homes to Californians who bought new homes here with the fortunes they made selling their West Coast properties.
"They're just blown away at the square footage and the kinds of houses they can get," she said.
Gilpin has been known to send the newspaper's Sunday employment section to potential buyers from other states who are considering moving here because of the affordable real estate alone.
"If they can just find a job here, they can live a better lifestyle," she said. "We're starting to have a reputation that not only do we have a good price point, but we have the job growth."