Monday, March 10, 2008


Greater Nashville Association of Realtors - "There were 1,892 home closings reported for February, which is a decrease of 26.5 percent from the 2,575 closings reported for the same period last year. The number of pending sales is 2,183, which is the first time since last October that there have been more than 2,000 pending sales. The median price for single-family homes remained stable, while the median price for condominiums decreased by 5 percent. Click here for a copy of the news release with additional details on home sales for February. And, you can click here for more information on history and trends of home sales in recent years."

The number of pending sale on 2008 compared to 2007 is down 24%. This is an indicator that March sales should continue the trend of be down year over year. Median single family prices sliped $1,900 or 1.1%. I believe that this is the first decline in at least the past five years. Inventory is up 26%.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Tennessee Economy Ranks 5th Best

Report: Tennessee economy ranks 5th
Nashville Business Journal

Tennessee has the country's 5th best economy, according to a state economic competitiveness ranking released by the American Legislative Exchange Council.

The report from ALEC, which bills itself as the nation's largest nonpartisan individual membership organization of state legislators, ranks the economic competitiveness of each state.

The state's top marginal personal income tax, a low state minimum wage and its right-to-work status helped place the state high in those rankings.

Tennessee ranked 1st in those three of the 16 categories examined.

According to the authors, Tennessee ranks below 20 other states in seven other categories, including top marginal corporate income tax, low property tax burden, debt service as a percentage of total tax revenue and state tort liability system.

Areas that needed improvement include lowering sales taxes and workers' compensation costs, according to ALEC.

Utah's economy was ranked the best followed by Arizona and South Dakota. Vermont was last.

The report's official title is Rich States, Poor States: ALEC-Laffer State Economic Competitiveness Index.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Rob Briley Will Not Run

State representative decides not to run for office in order to work on his health and new law office

By Ken Whitehouse

03-04-2008 2:30 PM — State Rep. Rob Briley (D-Nashville) said today that he will not seek re-election to the state legislature in order to continue working on his health, his very public battle with alcoholism, and to devote more time to his newly opened law office. He has served in the Tennessee House of Representatives since 1999.
Last Sept. 8, Briley, 41, was arrested in Wilson County for driving under the influence and leaving the scene of an accident. The arrest, which was caught on video from the dashboard camera of the police patrol car, quickly put him on the national news and made him fodder for late-night talk show hosts.

Asked about the incident today, Briley said, "You know, my worst day ever is on tape. I'd like to say that really wasn't me, or I was just really out of sorts, but I know that I was the guy on the film and I don't want be that person again. I have been working very hard to rebuild my life, continuing with counseling and recovery programs. Alcoholism is only one small part of the many issues I am dealing with and in order to fully commit to recovery it is time to step down from the legislature by not standing for re-election."

Many people have told him that the legislature exacerbated his troubles, but he disputes that notion. Briley said, "The people up here, both Democrats and Republicans, are here for the right reasons. While we don't always agree, we all care about each other and the people we serve. When my problems became public, I was embraced by members of both parties, many of whom I battled with tooth and nail on legislative issues that at times became personal. At first, I concentrated on a few members who seemed to take satisfaction in my disgrace, but that didn't last long... Too many people from all factions of the legislature have come forward and showed me the meaning of the word 'statesman.'"

When asked if he would consider a political comeback in the future, Briley said that for now he simply wants to finish off his work in the legislature and concentrate on his health.

"I feel a need to finish what the people of my district elected me to do," said Briley. "That is to serve out this term. I know I let them down and I feel if I walk away before then I would be doing it again. They have been there for me and have overwhelmingly supported me throughout, even more so after my troubles became public. They have meant more to me than they know, and for that I am eternally grateful."

Packers QB Favre to retire

Packers QB Favre to retire
Three-time MVP calling it quits following 17 seasons

Quarterback Brett Favre has started every Packers game since Sept. 27, 1992.

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) -- Brett Favre has decided to retire from the NFL after 17 seasons.

"He has had one of the greatest careers in the history of the National Football League, and he is able to walk away from the game on his own terms -- not many players are able to do that," Packers general manager Ted Thompson said Tuesday.

Favre's agent Bus Cook said the 38-year-old quarterback told him of his decision Monday night.

"Nobody pushed Bret Favre out the door, but then nobody encouraged him not to go out that door, either," Cook said by phone from his Hattiesburg, Miss., office.

FOX Sports first reported Tuesday that the Green Bay Packers quarterback informed the team in the last few days. said that according to Favre's agent the quarterback told coach Mike McCarthy of his decision.

The news was a surprise to at least one of Favre's teammates. Most players expected Favre to return after a successful 2007 season.

"I just saw it come across the TV," Packers wide receiver Koren Robinson said, when reached on his cell phone by The Associated Press.

The 38-year-old Favre, a three-time NFL MVP and one of the NFL's grittiest players, has made his annual flirtation with retirement a winter tradition in Wisconsin. He has taken weeks and even months to make his decision after recent seasons, with Cheeseheads hanging on his every word.

But unlike the final game of the 2006 season -- when Favre provided a cliffhanger by getting choked up in a television interview as he walked off the field in Chicago, only to return once again -- nearly everyone assumed he would be back this time. They were wrong.

Only two years removed from perhaps his worst season, Favre had a resurgence in 2007. He broke several career records. Among them was Dan Marino's career mark for career touchdown passes. He powered the Packers to an NFC North title and a 13-3 regular-season record and earned his ninth Pro Bowl spot.

Surrounded by an underrated group of wide receivers who proved hard to tackle after the catch, Favre had a career-high completion percentage of 66.5. He threw for 4,155 yards, 28 touchdowns and only 15 interceptions.

It was a remarkable turnaround from 2005, Favre's final season under former head coach Mike Sherman, when he threw a career-worst 29 interceptions as the Packers went 4-12.

Given Favre's career resurgence, it was widely assumed that he was leaning toward returning for the 2008 season.

He even said as much just before the Packers' Jan. 12 divisional playoff game against Seattle, telling his hometown newspaper that he wasn't approaching the game as if it would be his last and was more optimistic than in years past about returning.

"For the first time in three years, I haven't thought this could be my last game," Favre told the Biloxi (Miss.) Sun Herald. "I would like to continue longer."

Those comments sent premature shock waves across the state -- all the way up to the governor's office, where the political version of a false start was committed.

"Like all Packer fans, I am thrilled that Brett Favre will return to action next year for the green and gold," Gov. Jim Doyle said in a statement. "Brett Favre's tremendous work ethic and willingness to go out and play hard every day represent the true spirit of Wisconsin. I am hopeful that with this announcement behind us, Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers can focus on the task at hand: defeating the Seattle Seahawks."

The governor's office later amended the statement to say Doyle was "excited to hear Brett Favre talking about returning to action next year."

It was another example of the state's fascination with the future of its favorite quarterback.

Favre then finished the season on a sour note, suddenly showing his age in the Packers' 23-20 overtime loss to the New York Giants in the NFC Championship game.

Favre struggled in subzero temperatures, throwing an interception on the Packers' second play from scrimmage in overtime to set up the Giants' game-winning field goal.

After that game, Favre was noncommittal on his future. McCarthy said he wanted Favre to take a step back from the season before making a decision. But it was widely assumed he would be back.

"I think he's going to come back," Packers receiver Donald Driver said in early January. "I wouldn't be surprised if he comes back. He's having a great year, so it'd be great to see him come back if he decides to."

Retiring Packers chairman Bob Harlan figured Favre would be back, too.

"Yeah, I think he'll be back," Harlan said, on his final official day as the Packers' top executive. "And I felt that way the last couple years, when we've had these long debates about it. I just think he's such a competitor that as long as he feels he can compete, he's going to keep coming back."

Still, in the week leading to the playoff game against Seattle, Favre said his injuries were starting to linger.

"I'm not getting any younger," Favre said. "I wake up some days and think I can't even touch my toes. I think about that. I think, well, next year is not going to be like some refreshing, awakening season where all of a sudden you're going to feel great. That's not going to happen.

"I carry some of these things with me that maybe you wouldn't see. I tend to dwell on them, at least internally, more than I used to. I don't write them off as quickly as I used to."

Copyright 2008 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Annual U.S. Home Prices Fall for First Time Since Depression

U.S. home prices fell in 2007 for the first time since the Great Depression, according to a release from the National Association of Realtors. That made it more difficult for homeowners to sell or refinance properties encumbered by mortgages higher than the value of the houses themselves. Additionally, sales of existing homes fell in January to the lowest in at least nine years, NAR said.

Since January 2007, the median price of an existing home fell 4.6 percent to $201,100. The median price for a single-family home dropped 5.1 percent to $198,700, and condominium and co-op prices fell 1 percent to $220,400.

Mortgage companies including Fannie Mae and HSBC Finance have joined a U.S. Treasury Department-led effort to offer 30-day foreclosure freezes to give delinquent borrowers more time to arrange payment plans. Citigroup Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co., Bank of America Corp., Wells Fargo & Co., Washington Mutual Inc. and Countrywide Financial Corp. have initially agreed to participate in the effort.

In a February 26 release, the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight said that while pockets of strength remain, the coasts and the Midwest showed the biggest declines.

OFHEO’s research confirmed NAR’s findings. U.S. home prices fell in the fourth quarter of 2007 according to OFHEO’s seasonally adjusted purchase-only house price index. The index, which is based on data from home sales, was 1.3 percent lower on a seasonally-adjusted basis in the fourth quarter than in the third quarter of 2007. This decline was substantially greater than the 0.3 percent price decline between the second and third quarters. Over the past year, prices fell 0.3 percent, as the fourth quarter decline erased earlier price gains.
However, OFHEO’s all-transactions House Price Index, which includes data from home sales and appraisals for refinancings, showed less weakness than the purchase-only index. The all-transactions HPI rose 0.1 percent over the latest quarter and 0.8 percent over the latest year.

OFHEO Director James B. Lockhart said, “Although prices for home purchases in the [fourth] quarter fell in every state except Maine, only 16 states plus the District of Columbia showed price declines for the full year 2007.”

“The year 2007 showed the first four-quarter decline in the purchase-only index since its earliest data in 1991,” Lockhart added. “However, both OFHEO’s purchase-only index and the all-transactions index show relatively greater house price stability than do other nationwide house price indexes. That may reflect, in part, the greater stability in the prime, conforming mortgage market served by the Enterprises than in other segments of the mortgage market,” said Lockhart.

“Given the recent turmoil in housing markets we thought it would be helpful to provide a greater amount of information about price trends,” Lockhart said.

“While the declines are significant and quite large in some areas, the market still needs to work through its overhang of unsold inventory,” said OFHEO Chief Economist Patrick Lawler. “How much further down that inventory will ultimately push prices will depend on a number of factors, including what happens to interest rates and the overall health of the U.S. economy,” Lawler said.

OFHEO’s purchase-only and all-transactions house price indexes track average house price changes in repeat sales or refinancings of the same single-family properties. The purchase-only index is based on more than five million repeat sales transactions, while the all-transactions index includes more than 34 million repeat transactions. Both indexes are based on data obtained from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for mortgages originated over the past 32 years.

The full report is available at

Monday, March 3, 2008

A Message from Bob

Dear friends,

As some of you know, I have decided to run for the US Senate against Lamar Alexander.
I will bring the energy, focus, purpose and determination of a Marine to this campaign and to my service in the United States Senate.

I am not so much offering myself as a candidate as I again am answering a call to service. America is in crisis. Our economy is in trouble, our schools are struggling to excel, our health care system leaves millions uncovered, and there are parts of Tennessee where the good paying jobs of the future are just a mirage. And in too many places, the cold wind of hunger and poverty whistle through open doors of despair.

Perhaps most critically, we find ourselves in two wars, with enemies lying in wait at home and abroad. Veterans return from war to heal their bodies and their minds only to find a broken system that leaves them without care. I fought in Vietnam as a Marine officer, and I cared for my Marines. I understand the rigors of war and the responsibility of our government to wage it properly and to care for those who fight it and for their families.

My wife Susan and I have built our lives in Tennessee and have been married for nearly 39 years. We raised our children Andrew (27) and Sarah (24) in the traditions of faith, service to country and belief in the ideals of the Democratic Party.

I hope you will support me in this effort as you supported me when I was your Party Chairman.

Thank you and Semper Fi,

Bob Tuke
Tuke for Tennessee
222 Fourth Ave. No.
Nashville, TN 37219