Real Estate Center Online News

February 21, 2012

UT HSC's $95 Million Dental Work

SAN ANTONIO (San Antonio Business Journal) – The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio will add a $95 million oral health care center to its dental school.

The 172,000-sf facility will be built next to the Medical Arts & Research Center at the South Texas Medical Center on Floyd Curl Dr. Construction is expected to be complete by 2014 and will include a 450-car parking garage.

Health Science Center President William L. Henrich expects the new center to help the dental school maintain its top-tier ranking.

Citimortgage Paying $158.3 Million in HUD Settlement

WASHINGTON (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development) – Citimortgage Inc., a subsidiary of Citibank N.A., has agreed to pay $158.3 million in damages to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) under the False Claims Act after charges of mortgage misconduct.

The government’s complaint of over six years of wrongdoing in connection with Citimortgage's participation in the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) Direct Endorsement Lender Program ended in a settlement approved by U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero.

Citimortgage admitted responsibility for failing to comply with HUD-FHA loan requirements and to falsifying FHA mortgage insurance eligibility documents.

The case against Citimortgage is just one in a series filed against lenders who ignored HUD requirements for approving government-backed loans.

Despite Sales Slump, El Paso Builders, Realtors Optimistic

EL PASO (El Paso Times) – While home sales in El Paso declined in 2011, some industry professionals are expecting sales increases in the coming months as the economy improves.

Sales of new and existing homes in 2011 decreased 12.1 percent from 2010, according to data from CoreLogic. Residential construction permits, however, increased by 19 percent, signaling an increase in construction activity.

The median sales price for existing homes in 2011 was $126,500, up $500 from the prior year. The median price for new homes was up 31 percent from 2010 — $185,133.

The president of the Greater El Paso Association of Realtors, Jennifer Stroh, said builders and Realtors are optimistic about the market in 2012.

SA Medical Office: Economy Takes Its Toll

SAN ANTONIO (NAI REOC) – Demand for leased medical office space in San Antonio slowed toward the end of 2011, thanks in large part to an economy that has forced some doctors and medical-related businesses to cut costs.

“Some have been able to do that by controlling their space through ownership or seeking less expensive alternatives to space offered in traditional medical-only office buildings,” said Kim Gatley, director of research with NAI REOC San Antonio, which just released its fourth quarter 2011 analysis of the city's 6.1 million sf of medical-only office buildings.

According to the report, the citywide vacancy rate edged up to 20 percent in the fourth quarter from 19.6 percent the previous quarter and 18.2 percent recorded at the end of 2010.

Rates for premier medical office space range up to $33.50 per sf per year on a full-service basis. At the close of the year, the citywide average asking rental rate climbed nine cents from the third quarter to $23.09 — up 50 cents or 2.2 percent compared with the same quarter a year ago. Similarly, the cost of leasing Class-A medical office space increased ten cents over the quarter to $26.79 — up 48 cents over the year for an annual increase of 1.8 percent.

Gatley said the uncertain future of federal health care reform has also caused physicians to delay making decisions about their real estate needs, resulting in anemic demand.

She said this lack of demand resulted in 22,793 sf of negative net absorption within medical-only office buildings in fourth quarter 2011. For the year, though, medical office buildings remained in the black with 33,692 sf of net gain, showing evidence of continued stability.

Lubbock Housing Market Gaining Momentum

LUBBOCK (Lubbock Avalanche-Journal) – The year got off to a good start for Lubbock's housing market, according to January 2012 MLS data compiled by the local Realtors' association.

Agents last month closed on 148 existing single-family homes. That was up 10 percent from January 2011. It was also the first time January sales broke 140 since 2008, when 170 sales were reported.

Inventory at the end of January was 1,588 homes, down from 1,662 at the end of January 2011 — an inventory of 6.8 months.

The average sale price was $131,241, down 4.2 percent from January 2011. However, the median price rose by $2,000 to $111,500.

Austin Existing Home Sales Up 10 Percent

AUSTIN (Austin Board of Realtors) – Sales of existing single-family homes in Austin last month were up 10 percent over January 2011, according to the MLS report released today by the Austin Board of Realtors (ABoR).

Data showed 1,051 existing homes were sold in the area in January 2012. During the same period, the median price was $176,550, 7 percent less than a year ago.

The Austin market had 4.1 months of inventory last month, or 1.4 months less than the previous year. The figure, unchanged from December 2011, marks the lowest inventory level the Austin market has seen since the organization began tracking the statistic in January 2009.

"It is encouraging to see last year’s momentum continue into the new year," said ABoR Chairman Leonard Guerrero. "January marks the eighth straight month in which the volume of home sales in Austin has outpaced the previous year and the inventory of homes has decreased.”

Houston: Eight Months Straight of Increased Home Sales

HOUSTON (Houston Association of Realtors) – January marked the eighth consecutive month of increased existing home sales for H-Town, according to the Houston Association of Realtors (HAR).

The year also opened with a continued decline in active property listings and growth in pending sales, which the association said signals a healthy market with a balanced supply of housing inventory.

January sales of single-family homes were up 9.2 percent over January 2011, the association found. All segments of the housing market grew except the luxury segment (homes starting at $500,000).

"The January report shows continued strength in the Houston housing market that we began seeing in the latter part of 2011, and it gives us cause for optimism as we look ahead to the typically active spring and summer buying months," said Wayne A. Stroman, HAR chairman and CEO of Stroman Realty. "We have also seen more jobs being filled locally, and you generally don't experience a strong real estate market without healthy employment."

January's single-family home median price rose 0.9 percent year-over-year to $139,900. The average price of $194,765 was statistically unchanged from January 2011.

Foreclosure property sales reported in the MLS increased 22 percent year-over-year in January. Foreclosures made up 27.8 percent of all property sales, which is higher than the 2011 average of 21 percent. The median price of foreclosures in January was flat at $82,550.

January sales of all property types in Houston totaled 3,632, up 4.8 percent compared with January 2011. Total dollar volume for properties sold during the month rose 5.9 percent to $683 million versus $645 million a year earlier.

Carrington Place a Texas First for Carroll

PEARLAND ( – Carroll Organization has made its first multifamily acquisition in Texas with the 360-unit Carrington Place at Shadow Creek Ranch.

The Atlanta-based firm partnered with Starwood Capital Group to purchase the Class-A property at 12400 Shadow Creek Pkwy. in Pearland. The seller was Davis Development.

Completed in 2010, Carrington Place is 97 percent occupied. The property will be rebranded as Carroll at Shadow Creek Ranch.

Company CEO Patrick Carroll said his goal is to buy 3,500 units in Texas by the end of 2012, with 90 percent of those in Houston, Austin and Dallas.

News at Five

COLLEGE STATION (Real Estate Center) – If you'd like more Texas real estate stories, check out NewsTalk Texas, our online news database. Here's a sample of what you'll find this week:

NewsTalk Texas is updated each weekday, throughout the day.

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