Houston Ranks No. 2 for Trade• Six Texas cities led by Houston rank in the Top 50 Cities for Global Trade, according to a special report in Global Trade Magazine.• New York City claimed the No. 1 spot for $85.1 billion worth of business, but despite having just one-third the population, the Houston- Sugar Land-Baytown metropolitan statistical area ranked second on the Top 50 list, which is based on 2010 data culled from the International Trade Administration along with some editor-designated superlatives.• Houston boasted $80.6 billion exports by volume in 2010; mostly chemicals (30 percent), petroleum and coal products (29 percent) and machinery (16 percent), mostly headed to Mexico, Canada and China. Much of the thanks is due to the booming oil industry, but the article notes that "its consistent ranking as a top city not only for doing business, but also in which to work and live, must lend to its success."
Mortgage Closing Costs Fall• Federal regulations are helping to significantly reduce the amount new homebuyers are paying come closing time.• The average cost of closing on a mortgage has fallen by 7.4% over the past year, according to a recent survey by Bankrate.com. At the end of June, a homebuyer looking to close on a $200,000 mortgage with 20% down paid an average of $3,754, $300 less than 12 months earlier.• Included in those costs are origination expenses, such as application fees and the cost of doing credit checks, and third-party fees, such as those paid for title searches and insurance.• The decline can be attributed to new regulations that require lenders to be more accurate when estimating closing costs for borrowers, according to Greg McBride, Bankrates senior financial analyst.• The regulation, which was imposed two years ago as part of the Real Estate Settlement Practices Act, requires lenders to provide a "good faith estimate" of third-party fees that is within 10% of the actual amount the buyer will pay.
Weekly HAR Market StatLets admit it: Its been nice to have a year of positive headlines in the residential realestate industry. There have been more sales for more money in most markets acrossthe country, and the foreclosure situation, although not entirely in the rearview mirror,has abated. Were now entering the months of 2012 that should offer a true test of thelasting power of this buyer-seller tryst. A dropoff in buyer and seller activity might beexpected after so many months of bliss, but the feeling remains that the market willsurvive beyond the honeymoon phase. In the Houston region, for the week ending August 5: • New Listings decreased 2.7% to 2,235 • Pending Sales increased 31.4% to 1,709 • Closed Sales increased 68.7% to 1,763
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