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Moves by Jeb Bush add to talk of 2016 candidacy

WASHINGTON — Jeb Bush's decision to release a policy-laden e-book and all his emails from his time as governor of Florida has further stoked expectations among his allies that he will launch a presidential bid.

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Ebby Halliday acquires Fort Worth’s Williams Trew

Williams Trew Real Estate of Fort Worth has been acquired by Dallas-based residential real estate brokerage Ebby Halliday Real Estate Inc.

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Meridian Bank Texas parent acquired by UMB Financial for $182.5M

Kansas City, Mo.-based UMB Financial Corp., the parent company of UMB Bank, said Dec. 15 it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Marquette Financial Companies in an all-stock transaction.

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Cousins Properties to sell 777 Main tower in downtown Fort Worth

Cousins Properties Inc. has confirmed plans to sell the 777 Main office tower in downtown Fort Worth, according to a news release from the Atlanta-based real estate investment firm.

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Glen Garden sale closes, distillery on tap

Firestone & Robertson Distilling Co. closed late Wednesday on its purchase of the historic Glen Garden Country Club in southeast Fort Worth, with plans to convert it into a whiskey distillery and bucolic visitor attraction.

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Residential Real Estate: First-time homebuyers

Top 10 Markets for First-Time Home Buyers by Rank
MSA Median Listing Price Total Listings Median Age of Inventory Unemployment rate
Pittsburgh
$135,000 11,026 128 5.7%
Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Fla.
$169,900 21,062 88 5.9%
Philadelphia, Penn., N.J.
$174,900 10,656 141 6.4%
Fort Worth-Arlington $175,000 8,433 67 5.4%
Orlando, Fla.
$191,900 13,425 81 5.5%
Jacksonville, Fla.
$198,000 9,787 95 5.6%
Philadelphia, Penn.=-N.J.
$219,000 21,909 121 6.4%
Dallas $224,900 15,887 57 5.4%
Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill, N.C.
$227,500 9,435 98 4.9%
Phoenix-Mesa, Ariz.
$244,900 23,654 59 6.2%

The top 10 markets for first-time home buyers this year include seven metropolitan areas in Sun Belt states, plus the areas around Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, according to a new report by realtor.com.
Pittsburgh topped the study’s ranking, which examined five key factors that make particular markets ideal for first-time buyers: market popularity, prices, inventory, time on market and unemployment rates.
Florida had the most market of any state, with the metropolitan areas of Tampa-St.Petersburg-Clearwater, Orlando and Jacksonville all making the list. The Fort Worth-Arlington area was rated No. 4 and Dallas was No. 8.
Here are the criteria realtor.com used to rank the top 10 markets:


• Location, location, location: Market popularity is an important consideration for first-time buyers. It is common for owners to become “move up” buyers and purchase a larger home a few years after a first-home purchase. Buying a home in popular markets increases the likelihood of making money on a first home.
• Affordable list prices: One of the biggest barriers to homeownership is affordability. Homeowners not only have to be able to afford a monthly mortgage payment, but must have enough saved for a down payment.
• Ample inventory: Inventory shortages can often spark bidding wars in which investors or buyers with higher incomes can price out first-time buyers. Markets with an ample inventory of homes for sale are less likely to experience bidding wars.
• Reasonable time on market: Median age of inventory is a clear indicator of demand in a market. High demand is another factor that prompts bidding wars and makes it difficult for first-timers to get the home of their dreams. Additionally, first-time homebuyers should consider how long a home has been on the market. They may have an opportunity for a better deal if a seller is required to price a home more competitively in order to close.
• Steady employment: Unemployment rates affect all aspects of the economy, including first-time buyers. In order to pay for their mortgages, new buyers need to work and hold steady jobs in markets that support their job.
www.realtor.com
Keller homebuilding
Houston-based David Weekley Homes has broken ground in The Sanctuary and is now building a model home in the new community. The model home will open May 2014.
Located at the corner of Davis Boulevard and Bear Creek Parkway in Keller, The Sanctuary will feature single-family homes with a variety of floor plans, ranging from about 2,600-4,000 square feet on 65-foot home sites.
www.davidweekleyhomes.com


Homebuyer education
The Texas State Affordable Housing Corporation (TSAHC) has partnered with the Texas Association of Realtors (TAR) to promote the benefits of taking a quality homebuyer education course prior to purchasing a home.
Homebuyer education is a class, workshop, or online course aimed at potential homebuyers who are either first-time homebuyers or who desire to educate themselves about the home buying process. The joint campaign, titled “Get Ready: Making Texans Homeowners for Life,” will work to increase awareness of these programs among potential homebuyers, Realtors, lenders, loan officers and housing industry partners in Texas.
“The Texas Association of Realtors has worked with TSAHC in the past through our ‘United Texas’ program, which educates Texas Realtors about the resources available for clients seeking affordable housing,” said Dan Hatfield, chairman of the Texas Association of Realtors in a news release. “ This program takes that partnership one step further, empowering Texas Realtors to help their clients ‘get ready’ and become homeowners for life.”
www.getreadytx.org.

Mortgage firm expands
Premier Nationwide Lending (PNL) of Flower Mound now has six new office locations in five new states, expanding the firm’s presence to 23 states total.
“Supporting mortgage professionals and streamlining the home buying process are fundamentals for growth in today’s mortgage environment. Our growth rate and push into new territories is just a testament to the Premier culture of family values, work ethic, respect, and adaptability,” said Corey Kirkpatrick, PNL’s national recruiting manager.
 

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