July 28, 2014

Foreclosure rate drops in state

There’s been a significant drop in foreclosures in Wisconsin. “Our foreclosure levels have consistently gone down, and really if you look at the first and second quarters of the year, it’s been an almost constant improvement, and that’s been in both the urban and the rural counties,” said Dave Clark, an economist with the Wisconsin Realtors Association.

Overall, foreclosures were down 22 percent in Wisconsin for the first half of this year of 2014. “I think that’s (attributable) to the general improvement in economic conditions,” Clark said. “We don’t have lots of people who are losing their jobs, and that really is what drives foreclosure activity. If you get in a situation where your income drops off dramatically, that’s where you get into those dire situations where your home ultimately goes into foreclosure.”


‘Do not call’ list gets more consumer friendly

WIDNC_Vert_4cYou may not notice the difference immediately, but big changes are just around the bend for Wisconsin’s Do Not Call list. Beginning August 1, consumers will no longer be required to register their phone numbers every two years to receive protection from unwanted telemarketing calls and text messages, and new registrations will be active the following day rather than the next quarter.

“Consumers can sign up once and not have to worry about whether their registrations will lapse or whether there will be a three-month delay before they are protected under the program,” said Sandy Chalmers, Division Administrator for Trade and Consumer Protection.

Changes in the state’s Do Not Call law will make numbers on the Wisconsin Do Not Call Registry permanent, moving the registration process to the Federal Trade Commission’s nationwide list. Phone numbers on the previous Wisconsin list will automatically be transferred to the federal list. If a Wisconsin consumer has previously registered their number to the federal list, they do not need to re-register for protection under the new law.

The Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) will continue to enforce the state’s Do Not Call laws, protecting Wisconsin residents registered on the federal list.

Sealed Air pulls out of Racine County

The Racine area takes a jobs hit with news that a company once connected to the famed SC Johnson empire will move its headquarters – and 300 jobs – to North Carolina. New Jersey-based Sealed Air Corporation bought Diversey three years ago after having been Johnson-Diversey, and Diversey-Lever  back in 2001 when Johnson Wax Professionals made the initial purchase.

News of the Sealed Air jobs move hits hard in Racine County, which has lost some new projects to neighboring Kenosha County because of different availabilities for land and ready-to-occupy space. Most of the 300 jobs will be transferred to Charlotte, North Carolina over three years, starting in 2015.

A company spokesman said this is about consolidation, not cost-cutting. Nearly a thousand additional Sealed Air jobs will be moved from New Jersey, Connecticut and South Carolina, along with those in Mount Pleasant.



State home sales see first increase of the year

For the first time this year, the number of existing houses sold by Wisconsin Realtors was higher than the same month a year ago.

The Wisconsin Realtors Association says its members sold just over 7,700 homes statewide during June, which is 4.5 percent more than in June of 2013. The median sales price was $159,900, six-tenths of a percent more than the year before.

The group’s Dave Clark says June is typically the biggest month of the year for home sales in Wisconsin, accounting for almost 11.5 percent of all sales for the year. Clark says it’s a good sign that the housing market is headed in the right direction.

All parts of Wisconsin reported gains in sales. However, the improvement for June is still not going to completely erase reductions in sales during the first part of the year. Total home sales were down by almost five percent during the first six months of 2014.


State adds 7 counties to EAB quarantine

The emerald ash borer (Photo: DATCP)

The emerald ash borer (Photo: DATCP)

The state Department of Agriculture is adding seven more Wisconsin counties to the list of those quarantined because of the emerald ash borer.

The move comes after the tree-killing insect was confirmed in Columbia, Grant, and Monroe counties. The new quarantines cover those three areas, along with neighboring Richland, Iowa, Lafayette, and Green counties. While EAB has not been found in those counties yet, officials say their proximity makes it likely the insect will show up there.

There are are now 29 counties in the state that are under a quarantine, which means ash-wood products and hardwood firewoods can’t be moved out of them. Businesses must prove to the state that their wood products are pest-free before they can be shipped.

The emerald ash borer has killed millions of trees in the US. It has slowly spread across Wisconsin since it turned up in Washington County in 2008.