New Home Construction Continues To Rise

More than $1 trillion in U.S. real estate debt from the last decade is starting to come due as oil prices drop, particularly in cities and towns centered around the energy business. “The 50 percent plunge in crude values since June is already dragging down property prices in Texas, according to Green Street Advisors LLC. Real estate investors are adjusting their underwriting across the state as they gird for contraction at energy companies, demanding higher yields on their investments, the property-research firm said.

“It is going to be harder and more costly for borrowers in energy hubs to refinance loans in today’s environment, versus when oil was $100 a barrel,” Andy McCulloch, an analyst at Newport Beach, California-based Green Street, said in an e-mail. “Just how much harder or costly will depend.” [Bloomberg Business]

Barclays has ended its financing of a controversial coal mining method known as mountaintop removal stating that time is running out for the practice.”The bank was the world’s biggest financier of mountain top removal (MTR) in 2013, when it loaned MTR companies $550m, according to one analysis.

But in a policy document, released without publicity during March, Barclays reversed its position. Companies that engage in MTR coal mining will no longer receive support from the bank unless they commit to moving out of MTR “within a reasonable timeframe.” [The Guardian]

Despite tensions over the Keystone XL Pipeline and the Iraq negotiations between Republicans and Democrats, another bipartisan energy efficiency bill is garnering support from both sides of the aisle. “In fact the very senator who sponsored the bill to approve the Keystone pipeline, John Hoeven (R-N.D.), has introduced the Nonprofit Energy Efficiency Act (S 600) of 2015. Along with lead co-sponsor Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), the bill already has four co-sponsors from both parties.

The Energy Efficiency for Nonprofits Act would set up a pilot program to help nonprofit organizations retrofit buildings in order to save energy. This funding is crucial because it will allow congregations and other nonprofits, which are not eligible for tax credits, to get past the hurdle of up-front costs for renovation. Grants could cover up to 50 perrcent of energy efficiency improvement projects — up to $200,000.” [The Hill]