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VOL. 123 | NO. 104 | Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Daily Digest

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Homer Skelton Buys Millington Dealership

Longtime auto dealer Homer Skelton has bought a 32,020-square-foot auto dealership at 7661 U.S. 51 N. in Millington for $1.3 million. The sale closed May 21.

Skelton made the purchase with First Tennessee Bank NA acting as trustee from Shelton E. Harrison and Brucene H. Harrison.

The dealership was built in 1984 and sits on 10.38 acres at the corner of U.S. 51 and Babe Howard Boulevard. The Shelby County Assessor of Property’s 2008 appraisal on the property is $1 million.

Skelton owns Homer Skelton Inc., which operates Homer Skelton Ford in Olive Branch. Calls to the company were not returned by press time.

Source: The Daily News Online & Chandler Reports

Board of Adjustment To Talk Zoning Issues

The city-county Board of Adjustment will meet today at 1 p.m. at City Hall, 125 N. Main St., to hear a variety of zoning-related adjustment requests.

The applicants include Bank of America, at 6456 Shelby Drive at the northeast corner of Shelby Drive and Kirby Parkway, which is seeking a variance to permit construction of a drive-up ATM machine within the required front yard-building setback.

Another applicant, Christ Methodist Day School at 409 S. Grove Park Road at the northwest corner of South Grove Park Road and Poplar Avenue, is seeking to permit an attached sign in excess of the size and height requirements of the multiple dwelling residential district along Grove Park Road.

US Home Prices Tumble 14.1% in Q1

U.S. home prices dropped at the sharpest rate in two decades during the first quarter, a closely watched index showed Tuesday, a somber indication that the housing slump continues to deepen.

Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller said its national home price index fell 14.1 percent in the first quarter compared to a year earlier, the lowest since its inception in 1988. The quarterly index covers all nine U.S. Census divisions.

Prices nationwide are at levels not seen since the third quarter of 2004, according to Maureen Maitland, an S&P vice president. However, the index is still up 60 percent versus 2000.

Two narrower indices set record declines in March versus the previous year. The 20-city index tumbled 14.4 percent, the lowest since that index was started in 2001. The 10-city index plunged 15.3 percent, a record in its 20-year history.

“There are very few silver linings that one can see in the data. Most of the nation appears to remain on a downward path,” said David Blitzer, chairman of S&P’s index committee.

Nineteen of the 20 metro areas reported annual declines, with 15 of them posting record lows. Six metro areas lost more than 20 percent.

Las Vegas had the worst performance in March, falling 25.9 percent from a year earlier, followed by Miami and Phoenix. Only Charlotte, N.C., stayed above water, gaining less than 1 percent over the previous year.

Last week, the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight said home prices fell 3.1 percent in the first quarter, the largest drop in its 17-year history and only the second quarter of price declines recorded.

The OFHEO index is narrower in scope and is calculated using mortgages of $417,000 or less that are bought or backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. That excludes properties bought with some of the riskier types of home loans.

Home Sales Post Unexpected April Increase

Sales of new homes rose nationally in April for the first time in six months although the unexpected increase still left activity near the lowest level in 17 years.

The U.S. Commerce Department reported Tuesday that sales of new homes rose 3.3 percent in April to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 526,000 units.

But the government revised March activity lower to show an even bigger drop of 11 percent to an annual rate of 509,000, which was the weakest pace for sales since April 1991. Economists believe that new home sales will remain weak for some time as the housing industry struggles with falling prices and rising mortgage foreclosures, which are dumping even more homes on an already glutted market.

The report showed the median price of a new home sold in April dropped to $246,100, down 4.2 percent from April 2007.

The report on new home sales showed the April rebound was led by a huge 41.7 percent surge in sales in the Northeast. Sales were up 8.3 percent in the West and 5.8 percent in the Midwest. The only region that saw a decline in sales in April was the South, where sales fell by 2.4 percent.

The inventory of unsold new homes edged down slightly to 10.6 months’ supply at the April sales pace, compared with 11.1 months in March. However, the April level was still about double the inventory level that was normal during the five-year housing boom.

That boom ended in 2005 and since that time the housing industry has been struggling in a tough environment with falling sales and prices and rising mortgage defaults.

Economists believe that home prices will remain under pressure until the sizable level of inventories is worked down to more manageable levels. Many analysts don’t expect to see a rebound in prices until sometime next year.

Consumer Confidence Drops To Lowest Level in 16 Years

Soaring gas prices and weakening job prospects left shoppers gloomier about the economy in May, sending a key barometer of consumer sentiment to its lowest level in almost 16 years.

The New York-based Conference Board said Tuesday that its Consumer Confidence Index dropped to 57.2, down from a revised 62.8 in April.

The May reading marked the fifth straight month of decline and is the lowest since the index registered 54.6 in October 1992 when the economy was coming out of a recession.

Economists closely watch sentiment readings since consumer spending accounts for more than two-thirds of the nation’s economic activity.

“Weakening business and job conditions coupled with growing pessimism about the short-term future have further depleted consumers’ confidence in the overall state of the economy,” said Lynn Franco, director of the Conference Board’s Consumer Research Center.

Franco said consumers’ worries about inflation, fueled by increasing prices at the gas pump, are now at an “all-time high” and are likely to rise further in the months ahead. She added that based on consumers’ outlook on the economy, she believes there’s little likelihood of a quick turnaround.

BankTennessee Partners With IPI for New Division

Collierville-based BankTennessee has formed a partnership with San Antonio-based Investment Professionals Inc. to form a new financial planning and investment division.

BankTennessee also recently named the financial consultant who will lead that new division, Ben J. Cousins. The products and services to be offered will include comprehensive financial, retirement, estate and education planning, fixed and variable annuities and fixed income securities.

IPI currently manages investment programs across the country for more than 100 institutions with assets of between $35 million and more than $5 billion.

U of M Creates New MBA Program

The University of Memphis Fogelman College of Business and Economics has collaborated with some local businesses to create a new full-time program leading to a master of business administration degree.

The program is unique because of its corporate sponsorship.

The MBA program will focus on education for managers at mid-level and above in collaborating companies, with a particular emphasis on biomedical, logistics and distribution, retail and services marketing areas.

Dr. Rajiv Grover, dean of the Fogelman College, said the program is “customer driven” because it will help answer the need for local managers in local companies who are educated in the classic curriculum of an MBA program as well as in certain disciplines that are particularly needed by those companies.

The two-year program will offer part-time internships with the sponsoring companies during the academic year from September to May, and full-time during the summer.

The program will start in fall 2009. An initial enrollment of about 30 students is expected, with that number to increase.

Delta Regional Authority Lobbies for Connector

The federal co-chairman of the Delta Regional Authority is asking Congress for a new four-lane bridge over the Mississippi River. The bridge would sit south of Memphis, and would connect Interstate 55 in Mississippi to Interstate 40 in Arkansas.

Pete Johnson of Clarksdale, Miss., recently told members of Congress that a four-lane connection from I-55 in Batesville, Miss., to I-40 in Brinkley, Ark., would augment the Mid-South’s position as one of the nation’s largest logistics and distribution hubs.

RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 57 57 1,266
MORTGAGES 48 48 964
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 10 10 161
BUILDING PERMITS 85 85 2,836
BANKRUPTCIES 34 34 652
BUSINESS LICENSES 10 10 286
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 0 0 0
MARRIAGE LICENSES 0 0 0