Tuesday, January 25, 2011

2011 Economic Future for St George

The Economic Summit flew into the Dixie Center with the newly acquired Life Flight helicopter and ended with the official ribbon cutting ceremony at the new St. George Airport.
Lecia Langston, Regional Economist with Department of Workforce Services assured everyone that the economy is definitely starting to rebound. She cautions not to look for the inflated 10 percent annual job growth recorded during the height of the boom in Washington County, but more realistically to a growth rate of 4 to 5 percent over the next couple of years.
Vardell Curtis, CEO of Washington County Board of REALTORS stated that this year should be very good for first-time home buyers to shop. The three main ingredients that affect buyer affordability are mortgage rates, house prices, and income. With the first two at or near cyclic lows, buyer affordability is at the highest level in decades. The National Association of Realtors Affordability Index for the third quarter of 2010 reported one of the most affordable buying markets since the inception of the index in 1971. Curtis also stated that changes will be slow and subtle and there will be no big surprises in 2011.
Keynote Speaker, Dr. Charles Sorenson, spoke on the growth of the Intermountain Healthcare system. Most recently, the cancer treatment center added some of the best in radiation equipment in the state, and this year, the new Life Flight Helicopter was placed into operation.
Guest Speaker, Jerry Atkin, Chairman and CEO of SkyWest Airlines shared the story of the company’s humble beginnings to it’s present success
Today the airline boasts a fleet of over 700, serving both the western and eastern U.S., as well as three overseas charter lines.
The Summit’s “What’s Up Down South” presenters talked about future projects that will impact the economy in Washington County for the next 18 months. Local companies undergoing expansion efforts, bringing more employment opportunities into the community included; Cox Trucking, Design to Print, Red Rock Commons, ContactPoint, Healthcare Insight, Manufacturing U, and Dixie State College.
Litehouse, maker of salad dressings, snacks and other food products announced it would be setting up new operations in the Hurricane Industrial Park as part of their company-wide expansion efforts. New to Southern Utah, they plan to hire 60—70 employees in their first year of operation and as many as 100 over the course of the next three years.
Czarnowski Display Services, another new company expanding into the area will be providing approximately 50 new jobs when they begin their operations. A manufacturer of trade show exhibits and affiliated services will be locating in the Fort Pierce Industrial Park as they continue to service trade shows around the globe.
Along with Mayor, Dan McArthur, Governor Gary Herbert praised the airport’s opening. Governor Herbert stated that the St. George airport will be a catalyst of continued economic development and expansion in the State of Utah. “This is a great day for the history of St. George,” said Mayor McArthur. - Dixie Center and the Spectrum

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Buying a home now is a no-brainer

Question No. 1: Is now the time to buy?

Question No. 2: Is buying a house a good investment?

The first answer is easy: With a few exceptions, if you have 20% to put down and good credit, now is a great time to buy. That's been the case all year, and I'd argue that we're probably closer to the end than to the beginning of the really great time. Let me explain.

Back in January home prices had dropped 28% from their peak. More important, interest rates were at historical lows. By locking in a mortgage for 15 or 30 years on a value-priced home, you were getting an incredible deal, even if home prices decreased. (I took my advice and bought a New York City apartment.)
Most (and least) affordable cities to buy a home

At the time, I thought that prices and rates were more likely to rise than fall. I was half right: Home values have been inching up since the spring, but mortgage rates, incredibly, dropped further.

By August (the latest numbers available) the median home price had risen 1% over a year ago, but 30-year rates had dropped a half-point to 4.5%. Assuming 20% down and a 30-year mortgage, the total cost of owning a median-priced home is now down $16,000 from a year ago.

Home values may waffle over the coming year, but because Americans take out such large, long mortgages, rates are what really matter. And I am more likely to grow hair than see 30-year mortgage rates drop below 4%. It's far more likely that rates (and the cost of ownership) will rise.

Now for question No. 2: Is a house a good investment?
CALCULATOR: How much home can you afford?

First, it depends on what you mean by investment. If your definition is strictly about dollars returned, a house probably won't be a great use of your capital. If you bought the median-priced house today with 20% down, to recoup your total costs (and I'm not including property taxes and maintenance here) over three decades, the home's value would have to rise about 3% a year.

That's likely, but you'll almost certainly (we all hope) do much better than that in the stock market. The fact is, however, that that's the normal case for housing; the booms that began after World War II and in the late 1990s were the exceptions.
0:00 /2:38Buying a $250K house for $40K

Of course, there are places where you might do better. I bought my condo in Manhattan, a small island that, by virtue of the business done on it, has a sustained demand for property. And smaller, energy-efficient housing in cities or inner suburbs around San Francisco or Chicago is likely to be in higher demand than big, outer suburban homes with long commutes to Las Vegas or Atlanta.

According to urban and environmental planning professor William Lucy of the University of Virginia, this move toward urbanization in American housing is the reversal of a trend that's been in place since 1945. Keep it in mind when making your buying decisions.

That said, the key point to remember is this: Buying a fairly priced home at today's rates may be the best deal you will ever get. And who knows? It may even turn out to be a good investment. CNN Money