Real estate analysts across the nation have been pouring over July’s housing stats this week and not liking what they see. ‘Real trouble’ reads a headline from the Idaho Statesman this morning in an article noting a dramatic downturn in new building permits and drops in new home sales in the state’s hottest cities ranging from 8 to 21 percent. Similar news out of Denver, where the Post reports that 1 in 5 new home buying contracts were cancelled in the second quarter because buyers were unable to sell their current homes.
As new home sales have slumped over 20% nationally this year, the price of homes has remained stable, even increasing a fraction. An intriguing feature by the NY Times this morning suggests an explanation. According to the piece, developers and real estate agents have turned to various creative incentive programs, some offering cash rebates, which keep the official sale price (and agent fees) high, but fail to represent the true sale price of the home. The Times article suggest that a slump in home prices (as much as 3%) may be hiding behind these practices.
Fears over a possible confrontation with Iran have driven oil prices up again this week. The upside of pump pain is that the high cost of oil is putting fire under many regional alterative energy projects. The Denver Business Journal reports today on several major new wind power projects across the nation, while the Rocky Mountain News reports on the success of an Xcel Energy solar rebate program in Colorado. Since March 1, the utility company has forked out 1.2 million to folks who have collectively installed solar panels capable of producing 350 kilowatts of juice.
The push for increased nuclear power from Big Energy and the Bush Administration continues. ColoradoBiz reports on the Department of Energy’s desire to increase uranium mining in Southwest Colorado’s West Slope, which has local communities aglow with concern.
Global warming continues to make big news. Today the state of Colorado announced that it would join a growing number of state and city governments that are taking on climate change issues in the absence of action by the federal government. The Colorado Climate Project will endeavor to reduce the state’s contributions of global warning emissions. Colorado ranks 39th amongst the world’s economies for CO2 emissions. For more on global warming, check out the Salt Lake Tribune, which recently completed an extensive special section on climate change and its potential affect on Utah.
On the subject of Utah, apparently the grass is greener there, by law. The NY Times has a nice piece on SLC’s Mayor Rocky Anderson and his new lawnless, drought-resistant yard, which is in violation of ordinances requiring square green uniformity in Salt Lake neighborhoods. Five years of drought have called the wisdom of the ordinance into question (“Ridiculous,” the Trib quotes Anderson) and the mayor is working to amend the ordinance.
In outdoor news, the Silverton ski area has expanded its expert terrain area by 164 acres after a long fight with an Aspen businessman over his mining claims to the area. For those keeping score at home, Silverton now has 1,819 acres of terrain, putting it 119 acres above Telluride.
And that’s the Grok. Enjoy the last gasps of summer this weekend.