Wells Fargo Reports: New Home Sales Disappoint in November

Wells_Fargo_Securities_logoNew home sales fell 1.6 percent in November to a 438,000-unit pace, marking the second straight monthly decline. With the exception of the West, sales activity was weak across all regions.

Better Days are Ahead for New Home Sales

 New home sales fell more than expected in November, pullingsales activity down to its lowest level since July. With November now on the books, new home sales activity is on track toend the year around a 440,000-unit pace. This is only a modest increase over last year and is evidence of the sluggish nature of the housing recovery. Brighter days are ahead, however. We expect sales to increase to a 500,000-unit pace in 2015.

2 3 4

Median Prices Up Over the Past Year

 Both the median and average new home price fell during the month. Over the past year, median prices rose 1.4 percent, while average prices fell 4.1 percent. The discrepancy in the two measures reflects a change in the mix of homes sold. Many of the new homes sold during the year were at a higher price point.

 Although sales activity is expected to increase, buyer traffic has yet to recover and remains below the critical level of 50.

 

Wells Fargo Reports: Existing Home Sales Fall More Than Expected in November

Wells_Fargo_Securities_logoExisting home sales dropped 6.1 percent in November to a 4.93 million rate, largely due to tight inventories. The share of first-time homebuyers, however, jumped to its highest level since late 2012, reaching 31 percent.

Seasonal Inventory Drop Pulls Sales Lower

 Existing home sales fell a sharp 6.1 percent in November against tight inventories. Inventories follow a very seasonal pattern and are typically low in the winter months. Listed inventories fell 6.7 percent to 2.1 million homes.

 With November now reported, sales are on track to end the year at an annual rate of 4.9 million, which is down 3.3 percent from its 2013 pace.

First-Time Homebuyers Gradually Enter Market

 Despite the drop, the share of first-time homebuyers rose to 31 percent after being stuck at 29 percent over the last four months. Better labor market conditions, especially for young adults, and easing credit standards are likely responsible for the gain.

 The share of all-cash transactions, which is typically preferred by investors, fell to 25 percent and is now down 7 percentage points from its year-ago level.

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TRIP Report: Deficient Roadways Cost Connecticut Drivers A Total Of $4.2 Billion Statewide

TRIPDeficient Roadways Cost Connecticut Drivers A Total Of $4.2 Billion Statewide – As Much As $1,900 Per Driver. Costs Will Rise And Transportation Woes Will Worsen Without Funding Boost 

Roads and bridges that are deficient, congested or lack desirable safety features cost Connecticut motorists a total of $4.2 billion statewide annually – as much as $1,900 per driver in some areas – due to higher vehicle operating costs, traffic crashes and congestion-related delays. Increased investment in transportation improvements at the local, state and federal levels could relieve traffic congestion, improve road and bridge conditions, boost safety, and support long-term economic growth in Connecticut, according to a new report released today by TRIP, a Washington, DC based national transportation organization.

The TRIP report, Connecticut Transportation by the Numbers: Meeting the State’s Need for Safe and Efficient Mobility,” finds that, throughout Connecticut, 41 percent of major urban roads and highways are in poor condition. More than one-third of Connecticut’s bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. The state’s major urban roads are becoming increasingly congested, with drivers wasting significant amounts of time and fuel each year. And, Connecticut’s rural non-interstate traffic fatality rate is more than three times the fatality rate on all other roads in the state.

Driving on deficient roads costs each Connecticut driver as much as $1,925 per year in the form of extra vehicle operating costs (VOC) as a result of driving on roads in need of repair, lost time and fuel due to congestion-related delays, and the cost of traffic crashes in which roadway features likely were a contributing factor. The TRIP report calculated the cost to motorists of insufficient roads in Connecticut’s largest urban areas: Bridgeport/Stamford, Hartford and New Haven. A breakdown of the costs per motorist in each area along with a statewide total is below.

The TRIP report finds that a total of 41 percent of major roads in Connecticut are rated in poor condition and an additional 41 percent are rated in mediocre or fair condition and the remaining 18 percent are rated in good condition. Driving on deteriorated roads costs Connecticut drivers an additional $1.6 billion each year in extra vehicle operating costs, including accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear.

“This report shows how deteriorated, overburdened transportation system continues to drain precious time and money from Connecticut commuters and businesses,” said U.S. Representative Jim Himes (CT-4). “Our transportation infrastructure is the foundation on which we build economic growth and create jobs, and we can’t afford to neglect it any longer. We need a long-term transportation bill that invests in our crumbling roads, bridges and railways to ensure the safety of our people and make our economy more competitive.”

Increasing levels of traffic congestion cause significant delays in Connecticut, particularly in its larger urban areas. Traffic congestion robs commuters of time and money and imposes increased costs on businesses, shippers and manufacturers, which are often passed along to the consumer.

A total of 35 percent of Connecticut’s bridges show significant deterioration or do not meet modern design standards. Ten percent of Connecticut’s bridges are structurally deficient, with significant deterioration to the bridge deck, supports or other major components. An additional 25 percent of the state’s bridges are functionally obsolete, which means they no longer meet modern design standards, often because of narrow lanes, inadequate clearances or poor alignment.

“This report does an excellent job quantifying what motorists all over Connecticut can tell you first hand—that our roads and bridges are in need of repair. Governor Malloy has announced that transportation will be a top priority in 2015, and for very good reason. Rebuilding our transportation infrastructure will support a great many jobs, and is essential to the health of our economy and our quality of life,” said Connecticut State Senator Bob Duff (D-Norwalk).

Traffic crashes in Connecticut claimed the lives of 1,262 people between 2008 and 2012 Connecticut’s non-Interstate rural roads are particularly deadly, with a fatality rate in 2012 of 1.95 traffic fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel, more than three times the fatality rate of 0.62 on all other roads and highways in the state. Connecticut’s overall traffic fatality rate of 0.75 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel is lower than the national average of 1.13.

The efficiency of Connecticut’s transportation system, particularly its highways, is critical to the health of the state’s economy. The Federal Highway Administration estimates that each dollar spent on road, highway and bridge improvements results in an average benefit of $5.20 in the form of reduced vehicle maintenance costs, reduced delays, reduced fuel consumption, improved safety, reduced road and bridge maintenance costs and reduced emissions as a result of improved traffic flow.

The Federal surface transportation program is a critical source of funding in Connecticut. From 2008 to 2012, the federal government provided $1.76 for road improvements in Connecticut for every dollar the state paid in federal motor fees. In July, Congress approved an eight-month extension of the federal surface transportation program, which will now run through May 31, 2015. The legislation will also transfer nearly $11 billion into the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) to preserve existing levels of highway and public transportation investment through the end of May 2015.

“These conditions are only going to worsen if greater funding is not made available at the state and federal levels,” said Will Wilkins, TRIP’s executive director. “Congress can help by approving a long-term federal surface transportation program that provides adequate funding levels, based on a reliable funding source. If not, Connecticut is going to see its future federal funding threatened, resulting in fewer road and bridge repair projects, loss of jobs and a burden on the state’s economy.”

 

Executive Smmuary

 

 

$4.2 billion

Driving on deficient roads costs Connecticut motorists a total of $4.2 billion annually in the form of additional vehicle operating costs (VOC), congestion-related delays and traffic crashes.
$1,885

$1,925

$1,808

 

TRIP has calculated the cost to the average motorist in Connecticut’s largest urban areas in the form of additional VOC, congestion-related delays and traffic crashes. The average Bridgeport/Stamford driver loses $1,885 each year; each Hartford motorist loses $1,925 annually; and each New Haven driver loses $1,808.
252

1,262

On average, 252 people were killed annually in Connecticut traffic crashes from 2008 to 2012, a total of 1,262 fatalities over the five year period.
 

3X

The fatality rate on Connecticut’s non-interstate rural roads is more than three times higher than that on all other roads in the state (1.95 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel vs. 0.62).
$143 billion

$119 billion

Annually, $143 billion in goods are shipped from sites in Connecticut and another $119 billion in goods are shipped to sites in Connecticut, mostly by truck.
 

35 %

A total of 35 percent of Connecticut bridges are in need of repair, improvement or replacement. Ten percent of the state’s bridges are structurally deficient and 25 percent are functionally obsolete.
42 hours

38 hours

35 hours

 

The average driver in the Bridgeport/Stamford urban area loses 42 hours each year as a result of traffic congestion; each Hartford area driver loses 38 hours annually; and the average New Haven area motorist loses 35 hours.
 

 

41 %

Forty-one percent of Connecticut’s major locally and state-maintained roads and highways have pavements in poor condition, while an additional 41 percent of the state’s major roads are rated in mediocre or fair condition and the remaining 18 percent are rated in in good condition.
 

$1.76

 

From 2008 to 2012, the federal government provided $1.76 for road improvements in Connecticut for every dollar the state paid in federal motor fuel fees.
 

 

$1.00 = $5.20

The Federal Highway Administration estimates that each dollar spent on road, highway and bridge improvements results in an average benefit of $5.20 in the form of reduced vehicle maintenance costs, reduced delays, reduced fuel consumption, improved safety, reduced road and bridge maintenance costs, and reduced emissions as a result of improved traffic flow.

 

 

Connecticut’s extensive system of roads, highways and bridges provides the state’s residents, visitors and businesses with a high level of mobility. This transportation system forms the backbone that supports the state’s economy. Connecticut’s surface transportation system enables the state’s residents and visitors to travel to work and school, visit family and friends, and frequent tourist and recreation attractions while providing its businesses with reliable access to customers, materials, suppliers and employees.

In order to retain its businesses, maintain its level of economic competitiveness and achieve further economic growth, Connecticut will need to maintain and modernize its roads, highways and bridges by improving the physical condition of its transportation network and enhancing the system’s ability to provide efficient and reliable mobility for motorists and businesses. Making needed improvements to Connecticut’s roads, highways and bridges could also provide a significant boost to the state’s economy by creating jobs in the short term and stimulating long term economic growth as a result of enhanced mobility and access.

With the state’s population continuing to grow, Connecticut must improve its system of roads, highways and bridges to foster economic growth and keep businesses in the state. In addition to economic growth, transportation improvements are needed to ensure safe, reliable mobility and quality of life for all residents and visitors. Meeting Connecticut’s need to modernize and maintain its system of roads, highways and bridges will require significant local, state and federal funding.

Congress will need to pass new legislation prior to the May 31 extension expiration to ensure prompt federal reimbursements to states for road, highway, bridge and transit repairs and improvements.

The level of funding and the provisions of the federal surface transportation program have a significant impact on highway and bridge conditions, roadway safety, transit service, quality of life and economic development opportunities in Connecticut.

An inadequate transportation system costs Connecticut residents a total of $4.2 billion every year in the form of additional vehicle operating costs (VOC), congestion-related delays and traffic crashes.

  • TRIP estimates that Connecticut roadways that lack some desirable safety features, have inadequate capacity to meet travel demands or have poor pavement conditions cost the state’s residents approximately $4.2 billion annually in the form of additional vehicle operating costs (including accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear), the cost of lost time and wasted fuel due to traffic congestion, and the financial cost of traffic crashes.
  • TRIP has calculated the average cost to drivers in the state’s largest urban areas as a result of driving on roads that are deteriorated, congested and lacking some desirable safety features. The chart below details the costs to drivers in the Bridgeport/Stamford, Hartford and New Haven urban areas.

TRIP

Population and economic growth in Connecticut have resulted in increased demands on the state’s major roads and highways, leading to increased wear and tear on the transportation system.

  • Connecticut’s population reached approximately 3.6 million residents in 2012, a nine percent increase since 1990. Connecticut had 2,485,708 licensed drivers in 2012.

 

  • Vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in Connecticut increased by 19 percent from 1990 to 2012 – from 26.3 billion VMT in 1990 to 31.3 billion VMT in 2012.
  • By 2030, vehicle travel in Connecticut is projected to increase by another 10 percent.

 

  • From 1990 to 2012, Connecticut’s gross domestic product, a measure of the state’s economic output, increased by 32 percent, when adjusted for inflation.

A lack of adequate state and local funding has resulted in 41 percent of major locally and state-maintained roads and highways in Connecticut having pavement surfaces in poor condition, providing a rough ride and costing motorist in the form of additional vehicle operating costs (VOC).

  • Forty-one percent of Connecticut’s major locally and state-maintained roads and highways have pavements in poor condition, while an additional 41 percent of the state’s major roads are rated in mediocre or fair condition and the remaining 18 percent are rated in in good condition.
  • Roads rated in poor condition may show signs of deterioration, including rutting, cracks and potholes. In some cases, poor roads can be resurfaced, but often are too deteriorated and must be reconstructed.

 

  • Driving on rough roads costs all Connecticut motorists a total of $1.6 billion annually in extra VOC. Costs include accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear.

 

  • The chart below details the percentage of major locally and state-maintained roads in poor, mediocre, fair and good condition in the state’s major urban areas:

TRIP 1

Thirty-five percent of locally and state-maintained bridges in Connecticut show significant deterioration or do not meet current design standards often because of narrow lanes, inadequate clearances or poor alignment. This includes all bridges that are 20 feet or more in length.

  • Ten percent of Connecticut’s bridges are structurally deficient. A bridge is structurally deficient if there is significant deterioration of the bridge deck, supports or other major components. Structurally deficient bridges are often posted for lower weight or closed to traffic, restricting or redirecting large vehicles, including commercial trucks and emergency services vehicles.
  • Twenty-five percent of Connecticut’s bridges are functionally obsolete. Bridges that are functionally obsolete no longer meet current highway design standards, often because of narrow lanes, inadequate clearances or poor alignment.

 

  • In the Bridgeport/Stamford area, 13 percent of bridges are structurally deficient and 29 percent are functionally obsolete. Nine percent of bridges in the Hartford area are structurally deficient and an additional 22 percent are functionally obsolete. In the New Haven area, eight percent of bridges are structurally deficient and 34 percent are functionally obsolete.

Improving safety features on Connecticut’s roads and highways would likely result in a decrease in the state’s traffic fatalities and serious crashes. It is estimated that roadway features are likely a contributing factor in approximately one-third of all fatal and serious traffic crashes.

  • Between 2008 and 2012 a total of 1,262 people were killed in traffic crashes in Connecticut, an average of 252 fatalities per year.
  • The following chart details the average annual number of fatalities in each area between 2010 and 2012 as well as the financial costs of traffic crashes to the average motorist in each area.

TRIP 2

  • Connecticut’s overall traffic fatality rate of 0.75 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel in 2012 is lower than the national traffic fatality rate of 1.13.
  • The fatality rate on Connecticut’s rural non-Interstate roads was 1.95 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel in 2012, more than three times the 0.62 fatality rate on all other roads and highways in the state.
  • Roadway features that impact safety include the number of lanes, lane widths, lighting, lane markings, rumble strips, shoulders, guard rails, other shielding devices, median barriers and intersection design. The cost of serious crashes includes lost productivity, lost earnings, medical costs and emergency services.
  • Several factors are associated with vehicle crashes that result in fatalities, including driver behavior, vehicle characteristics and roadway features. TRIP estimates that roadway features are likely a contributing factor in approximately one-third of fatal traffic crashes.
  • Where appropriate, highway improvements can reduce traffic fatalities and crashes while improving traffic flow to help relieve congestion. Such improvements include removing or shielding obstacles; adding or improving medians; improved lighting; adding rumble strips, wider lanes, wider and paved shoulders; upgrading roads from two lanes to four lanes; and better road markings and traffic signals.
  • Investments in rural traffic safety have been found to result in significant reductions in serious traffic crashes. A 2012 report by the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) found that improvements completed recently by the Texas Department of Transportation that widened lanes, improved shoulders and made other safety improvements on 1,159 miles of rural state roadways resulted in 133 fewer fatalities on these roads in the first three years after the improvements were completed (as compared to the three years prior).   TTI estimates that the improvements on these roads are likely to save 880 lives over the next 20 years.

Increasing levels of traffic congestion cause significant delays in Connecticut, particularly in its larger urban areas, choking commuting and commerce. Traffic congestion robs commuters of time and money and imposes increased costs on businesses, shippers and manufacturers, which are often passed along to the consumer.

  • Increasing levels of congestion add significant costs to consumers, transportation companies, manufacturers, distributors and wholesalers and can reduce the attractiveness of a location to a company to consider expansion or even to locate a new facility. Congestion costs can also increase overall operating costs for trucking and shipping companies, leading to revenue losses, lower pay for drivers and employees, and higher consumer costs.
  • The chart below details the average annual number of hours lost to congestion by each motorist in Connecticut’s largest urban areas, as well as the annual congestion cost per driver in the form of lost time and wasted fuel.

The efficiency of Connecticut’s transportation system, particularly its highways, is critical to the health of the state’s economy. Businesses are increasingly reliant on an efficient and dependable transportation system to move products and services. A key component in business efficiency and success is the level and ease of access to customers, markets, materials and workers.

  • Annually, $143 billion in goods are shipped from sites in Connecticut and another $119 billion in goods are shipped to sites in Connecticut, mostly by truck.
  • Seventy-three percent of the goods shipped annually from sites in Connecticut are carried by trucks and another 17 percent are carried by courier services or multiple mode deliveries, which include trucking.
  • Increasingly, companies are looking at the quality of a region’s transportation system when deciding where to re-locate or expand. Regions with congested or poorly maintained roads may see businesses relocate to areas with a smoother, more efficient and more modern transportation system.
  • Businesses have responded to improved communications and greater competition by moving from a push-style distribution system, which relies on low-cost movement of bulk commodities and large-scale warehousing, to a pull-style distribution system, which relies on smaller, more strategic and time-sensitive movement of goods.
  • Highway accessibility was ranked the number one site selection factor in a 2011 survey of corporate executives by Area Development Magazine.
  • The Federal Highway Administration estimates that each dollar spent on road, highway and bridge improvements results in an average benefit of $5.20 in the form of reduced vehicle maintenance costs, reduced delays, reduced fuel consumption, improved safety, reduced road and bridge maintenance costs and reduced emissions.

The federal government is a critical source of funding for Connecticut’s roads, highways and bridges and provides a significant return in road and bridge funding based on the revenue generated in the state by the federal motor fuel tax.

  • A significant boost in investment on the nation’s roads, highways, bridges and public transit systems is needed to improve their condition and to meet the nation’s transportation needs, concluded a new report from the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.
  • The 2015 AASHTO Transportation Bottom Line Report found that annual investment in the nation’s roads, highways and bridges needs to increase from $88 billion to $120 billion and from $17 billion to $43 billion in the nation’s public transit systems, to improve conditions and meet the nation’s mobility needs
  • From 2008 to 2012, the federal government provided $1.76 for road improvements in Connecticut for every dollar the state paid in federal motor fuel fees.

Sources of information for this report include the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), the U.S. Census Bureau, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). All data used in the report is the latest available.

Let’s Go Places – How About Back to November 1989

RMG1aRecently while cleaning out some files I cam across a collection of editorials I had written years ago. Surprisingly some really seemed to fit the world as it is today with minor modifications. The point is although everything changes nothing is different.

Read With Caution, May Cause Drowsiness appeared as an editorial in 1989.

Here it is, November, the 11th month. Daylight savings time is over. It’s dark when you leave the house in the morning. It’s dark when you get home in the evening. You can’t go out without a jacket and some mornings you even need your gloves. If you park outside chances are you have to scrape your windows.

By now you’ve had an opportunity to read several articles on “The Wonders of Winter Maintenance. Winter is like taxes – something you simply can’t escape.

In addition to maintenance worries, winter presents safety concerns. Not only do we have to deal with ice and snow on the roads, we have to deal with the limited visibility of frosted and fogged windshields, back windows and mirrors. Then there are the ice-covered steps and frozen grab-irons, slippery floors and snow-covered boots.

The opportunities to practice safety are innumerable during winter season. If it gets cold enough you have to be concerned about staying out too long, touching metal and wearing the right clothes. One safety concern in particular s often neglected.

With the snow comes colds and flu. Everyone tries to fight these bugs with off-the-shelf remedies. How often have you taken a cold capsule or other remedy and gone to work? Did you read the label? Did it happen to say, “Do not operate machinery or equipment after taking! May cause drowsiness.” Probably.

It’s something we all do, well maybe 1ot all of us. It’s something we shouldn’t lo. Some of these remedies may have little or no effect on us and our ability to operate cars, trucks, machines or do our job. We may not fall asleep. We might think that because we weigh 200 lbs one little pill can’t hurt us. The fact is that many of these medicines can slow our reflexes or impair our judgment.

There are alternatives that don’t cause drowsiness or produce other negative effects. If you have to work when you’re sick take them instead. Don’t take a chance. When you’re working as part of a group, what you do can and does, affect everyone. If you’re not sure, talk to your doctor and find out if it’s OK to work on or operate a piece of machinery while taking certain medicines or drugs.

This matter could be a topic for a safety meeting. It’s something that people – me included — never think about, but should. Getting behind the wheel of a car, truck or machine is serious business. When we do it we assume responsibility for any and every one who might come in contact with us. Please, don’t take this responsibility lightly.

Safety is not a seasonal activity. Being a safe worker, employer and employee is a year-around requirement. If we expect the company we work for to provide us with the safety gear necessary to do our job, it’s only fair that we show up in condition to do the job.

Remember that clothing should meet existing safety requirements. If safety shoes are required that’s what should be worn. No, gym shoes are not an acceptable substitute. It’s easy to slip on a pair of “sneakers” and not bother changing when you get to work.

(Winter clothing poses more safety hazards than less bulky and restricting summer clothing.)

It’s a lot easier to wear a baseball cap than the hard hat; or forget your safety glasses when you should be wearing them. Being safety conscious isn’t always easy. Sometimes it requires extra effort. But, it’s always worth it.

Safety is an individual commitment. A company is only as safe as the most careless of its employees. Unfortunately, an individual’s dedication to being safe is never as noticeable as one person’s care­ less conduct.

To be safe, you must think safe, dress safe, act safe and live safe. Being safe is one thing you’ll never live to regret — so is being careless!

That was 1989. Not much has changed, has it?

A Merry and Safe Christmas and Happy and Safe New Year to you and your families.

This editorial appeared in the December 2014 issues of the ACP magazines.

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