Bo’s News Clips: Housing for West Texas Shale Workers

As the US home building rebounds, West Texas prepares for a huge production in housing units to accommodate workers extracting oil from the Cline Shale vein that runs under ten counties. The production is estimated to have the potential to pass that of Saudi Arabia in eight years and bring thousands of new workers to the area.

For a pdf version of the full stories, plus contextual articles in social, legal and environmental areas, contact Bo McCarver at bmccarver@austin.rr.com

U.S. home-building rebound tops forecasts

By Michelle Jamrisko        San Francisco Chronicle       January 18, 2013

The rebound in U.S. home building accelerated in December, capping the best year for the industry since 2008 and adding to signs residential real estate is contributing to economic growth.

Housing starts climbed 12.1 percent last month to a 954,000 annual rate, exceeding all forecasts in a Bloomberg survey of economists, the Commerce Department reported Thursday.

Spurred by record-low mortgage rates, home construction will probably keep making headway in 2013 as it recovers from the worst slump since the Great Depression. Consumers, buttressed by an improving job market, rising home prices and lower fuel costs, may also be able to move ahead even as the debate over the federal budget heats up and taxes cut paychecks.

‘One of the bright spots’

“Housing clearly continues to be one of the bright spots in an otherwise gloomy and sluggish economic-growth story,” said Anika Khan, a senior economist at Wells Fargo Securities LLC in Charlotte, N.C., a subsidiary of the largest U.S. mortgage lender. “On the labor market side of things, we continue to get overall positive momentum.”

Last month’s jump brought housing starts to the highest level since June 2008, the Commerce report showed.

Full story at: http://www.sfgate.com/realestate/article/U-S-home-building-rebound-tops-forecasts-4204107.php

Big Country communities bracing for Cline Shale oil boom potential

By John Mangalonzo       Abilene Reporter-News       January 20, 2013

Situated in the middle of the map of the Cline Shale, a huge pocket of oil below 10 West Texas counties, is Mitchell County. By traveling to oil-rich regions that have boomed elsewhere, Mitchell economic development and county government officials and local residents are learning how to tap into a potential bounty under their land.

Lying approximately 9,250 feet below the surface, the Cline, an emerging unconventional resource play on the eastern flank of the Midland Basin, runs roughly 140 miles north-south and is 70 miles wide through portions of Mitchell, Coke, Fisher, Glasscock, Howard, Irion, Nolan, Reagan, Scurry and Sterling counties.

Initial estimates indicate the Cline holds more than 30 billion barrels of recoverable oil, exceeding both the Bakken fields in North Dakota and Eagle Ford Shale — shale is an abundant sedimentary rock formation — in South Texas by nearly 50 percent.

There already is so much oil production coming out of Eagle Ford Shale, found just below Bexar County and 400 miles long and 50 miles wide, according to the Texas Railroad Commission. Within eight years, Eagle Ford, which affects 30 counties that touch the Mexican border and extend to East Texas, and Bakken will produce more oil annually than Saudi Arabia, predicts the International Energy Agency.

Full story at: http://www.reporternews.com/news/2013/jan/19/big-country-communities-bracing-for-cline-shale/

A New Lease on Luxury

They’ve got the money to buy trophy homes—but for now, they’d rather rent. Hoping to keep cash liquid while watching the direction of the market, more people are paying big sums for temporary digs.

Wall street Journal        January 17, 2013

When real-estate developer Don Peebles moved his family to Manhattan from Coral Gables, Fla., he decided to combine two adjacent ninth-floor apartments to create a 4,750-square-foot, seven-bedroom, nine-bathroom home with glass walls on the Upper West Side overlooking the Hudson River. His wife, Katrina, spent two months decorating the apartment with abstract paintings from their art collection, whimsical wallpaper in the kitchen and tufted couches in the living room.

Though the Peebleses invested significantly in their home, they don’t own it. Instead, they are paying $35,000 a month to lease it. Renting also gives them the flexibility change their minds about what neighborhood they want to live in if they decide to move. “Our primary residence doesn’t need to be an investment,” he says.

A growing number of people who can afford to buy trophy homes are instead opting for a more temporary solution: the trophy rental. Some renters say they want to avoid tying up their money in steep down payments and instead are investing their money in the financial markets or their own businesses. Still, they’re willing to spend tens of thousands of dollars a month on a rental to get the lifestyle they want.

Full story at: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323596204578241712854783062.html