District of Innovation

About 400 school districts and counting have adopted District of Innovation plans. Dallas ISD became the latest to do so in a 6-3 vote Thursday night. (Photo by Flickr/Stuart Pilbrow)

Dallas, Highland Park, and Ector County schools recently became the latest districts to opt for the “District of Innovation” status. Districts across Texas are grabbing hold of a 2015 law that allows them wider flexibility and control of everything from the start and end dates for the school year, class size, and length of a school day,  to who they can hire to teach.

Highland Park ISD’s board of trustees voted a District of Innovation plan in March. Ector County ISD passed its plan in April.

The District of Innovation concept was provided for in 2015 when the state legislature passed House Bill 1842, which allows districts some flexibility in seeking exemptions to state education code on various facets of curriculum, governance, accountability, and finance.

To begin the journey, a board adopts a resolution to examine the issue, then holds public hearings and appoints a committee to develop the district’s plan.

Proponents point to the local control, and to the opportunity for the same flexibility charter schools have. Opponents frequently say there is the potential for a slippery slope scenario that would lead to hiring unqualified teachers.

There is also a fair amount of fret about what teacher contracts would look like on a District of Innovation landscape, but so far districts that have passed plans have insisted teacher contracts would not be affected. (more…)

midland home prices

Things look grim for the real estate market in Midland over the next 12 months, as home values are forecast to decrease by 5 percent over the next 12 months. In the second and third year, prices are forecast to decrease 2 percent and remain unchanged, respectively, according to new reports from Local Market Monitor.

In Odessa, home values are predicted to increase by 2 percent over the next 12 months. In the second and third year, prices are forecast to increase 1 percent and 2 percent. Nationally, prices are forecast to increase by 4.9 percent.

Most worrying, the reports have called investment in Midland real estate “dangerous,” giving it a -1.7 score, on a 1 to 10 scale. In Odessa, the rating is a 1.3, putting that city in the “speculative” category.

This is a marked changed from the market of three years ago, when the investment risk for both cities was in the “low risk” category.

Read the whole story over at MidlandDirt.com.

Chinese investment firm Yantai Xinchao Industry Co. is spending $1.3 billion to buy massive oil fields in the Permian Basin area of Texas. Photo: Paul Lowry via Creative Commons

Chinese investment firm Yantai Xinchao Industry Co. is spending $1.3 billion to buy massive oil fields in the Permian Basin area of Texas. Photo: Paul Lowry via Creative Commons

A Chinese investment firm has its sights set on West Texas as they declare their intent to spend $1.3 billion (8.3 billion yuan) to buy massive oil fields in Howard and Borden counties. This purchase is part of a trend of Chinese interest in U.S. energy resources.

Read the whole story over on MidlandDirt.com!

 

 

Real Estate Story

In Texas, anything below 80 degrees is practically long-sleeve weather. So this week’s lows in the 50s have us thinking about winter. (Fall is actually the best time to do home winterizing because temperatures are comfortably and you’re not rushed.)

Winterizing your home doesn’t have to cost a lot. Here are 7 tips that are free or low-cost. They’ll save you a bundle on your home heating bill and get your house ready for the coming months.

(more…)

Two new reports from the Local Market Monitor say Midland and Odessa can expect a strong housing market for the next few years.

Two new reports from the Local Market Monitor say Midland and Odessa can expect a strong housing market for the next few years.

More good news about the real estate market in Midland and Odessa: two new reports from Local Market Monitor say the housing market in both markets is strong and should stay that way for the next few years.

According to the reports, home values for Midland are forecast to increase by 8 percent over the next 12 months, compared to a national increase of 4.6 percent. In the second and third years, prices are forecast to increase 9 percent each year.

In Odessa, home values are forecast to increase by 7 percent over the next 12 months, and 9 percent each year in the next two years.

Why this positive outlook on the strong housing market? Jobs!

Read the whole story over at MidlandDirt.com!

 

employment growth

In Texas, it’s all about jobs, jobs, jobs.

A new report from the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University says that the Texas economy gained 276,400 nonagricultural jobs from June 2014 to June 2015, an annual growth rate of 2.4 percent, compared with 2.1 percent for the United States. Many of the major metropolitan areas in the state saw much bigger gains, like North Texas.

The Dallas-Plano-Irving metro area ranked No. 2 in job creation in the state (Midland was No. 1), followed by Odessa, Beaumont-Port Arthur, Austin-Round Rock, and San Antonio-New Braunfels. Fort Worth-Arlington ranked No. 7, with 2.7 percent job growth.

“The North Texas economy is more dependent on the U.S. economy, so it’s not energy-based, compared to the Houston or Midland-Odessa economy, where energy has a bigger weight,” said Real Estate Center research economist Luis Torres. “Because the U.S. economy is growing and doing better, you’re seeing that reflected in the Dallas economy.”

In fact, every single Texas metro areas except Wichita Falls had more jobs in June 2015 than a year ago.

Big sectors for job growth were:

  1. Leisure and Hospitality: 5.05 percent growth
  2. Education and health services: 3.87 percent growth
  3. Professional and business services: 3.54 percent growth
  4. Transportation, warehousing and utilities: 3.52 percent growth
  5. Construction: 3.34 percent growth

“The correlation between the Dallas economy and the U.S. economy is very high, and the main reason is because Dallas is a transportation hub and all the goods and services that pass in the state use Dallas transportation systems,” said Real Estate Center research economist Ali Anari.

(more…)

Permian Basin Builders Association

Master bedroom and bathroom of a home on the Permian Basin Builders Association Parade of Homes 2014, built by Ashingdon Homes. Photo: PBBA

In the Midland-Odessa area, there’s a big resource for business people in all aspects of residential and commercial construction, the Permian Basin Builders Association (PBBA).

This group is known for its two big annual events, the Home and Garden Show each February and the Parade of Homes each October. But they offer other benefits to members and homebuyers, as well, said member Travis Pate, Project Manager at Texas Classic Homes.

“The benefits are being able to know what is happening in the industry, being able to communicate as a group to the governmental entities, and being able to have a voice at state and national government entities, as well,” Pate said. “We have continuing education programs for builders, as we’re a social and philanthropic organization, as well.”

With many of their nearly 300 members small business owners, being part of a trade organization can help alleviate the “little fish in a big pond” feeling, Pate explained. Members often look to other members when they need services because there is a feeling of reliability.

“If somebody is willing to invest in themselves and their community to be a member and pay their dues, which are around $500, it probably means they are an upstanding person and have an upstanding business,” he said. “The analogy I use is that if parents are going to the bookstore or library and getting books on parenting, whether they read them or not, it probably means they’re pretty good parents to begin with.”

Read the whole story on MidlandDirt.com!

 

 

Two new reports paint a bright picture of the housing market in Midland and Odessa now and for the next three years.

The Local Monitor Reports, released today, cite a 7 percent increase in Midland home prices over the last 12 months, which puts the average home price at $183,463. In Odessa, prices have gone up 5 percent over the last year and the current average home price is $210,980. In the last three years, home prices were up 10 percent in both markets.

The good news doesn’t stop there.

Read the whole story over on MidlandDirt.com!