Writer's Block Allstate stopped writing new homeowners policies in California earlier this year as a way to help control its disaster exposure in the state, which is prone to wildfires and earthquakes. The move does not affect current customers. A representative with the company says the move to stop writing new policies in California was not driven by insurance rates, but was purely a move to limit the company's exposure to catastrophe.—N.F. Maynard
SOURCE: THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Moving Costs Sluggish home sales in many metro areas have made it more difficult for corporate employers to negotiate job relocations, according to a 2006 Prudential Relocation survey on mobility trends. Sixty-one percent of survey respondents cited cost of living and housing concerns as a reason not to uproot, while 22 percent voiced specific fears about being able to sell their homes. As a result, some employers have begun implementing “loss on sale” programs, which offer compensation for a loss in home equity due to job relocation, to sweeten the deal for top recruits.—J. Sullivan
Bad Guys Police officer Gene Whitley in North Little Rock, Ark., was so alarmed by rampant theft at local construction sites that he did some research on how other states responded to the problem and took his concerns to the Arkansas HBA and state Rep. Lance Reynolds. The result is a new law that goes into effect statewide this month that classifies a theft of $500 or more from a permitted or licensed construction site as a Class B felony, punishable by five to 20 years in prison. The new law covers all materials used at a construction site, right down to the dirt.—S. Zurier
Car-Free In an effort to promote mass transit and make housing more affordable, several cities are loosening developer requirements on parking spaces. Seattle, San Francisco, and Portland, Ore., have reduced or eliminated parking space requirements. Houston is reviewing requirements along its light-rail line. Planners say it can lower the cost of a unit by $30,000 or more.—P. Curry
Career Path If you're a builder looking to put an architect on your payroll, or an architect in search of greener pastures, look no further than www.architectjobsonline.com. The recruitment site, sponsored by BUILDER sister publications ARCHITECT and RESIDENTIAL ARCHITECT, offers resume and job postings, salary data, a cost-of-living calculator, industry news, blogs, and an events calendar. Watch for even more site features to come, including a resume critiquing service and virtual career fairs.—J.S.
Relocation Trends The Midwest was the top destination in 2006 for employee transfers within the U.S., according to Atlas World Group's 40th annual Corporate Relocation Survey. At 29 percent, the Midwest was followed closely by the South and the Northeast, both at 22 percent. Relocation to Western states was at 14 percent, followed by the Southwest at 8 percent and Central states at 5 percent. About 30 percent of the responding companies said they expected an increase in relocations in 2007.—P.C.
Full Circuit Looking for ways to safeguard against electrical fires in the home? Arc fault circuit interrupters (AFCIs), a preventive technology endorsed by the National Fire Protection Association and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, take fire prevention a step above standard circuit breakers. AFCIs detect high-intensity heat conditions that can lead to burning particles inside wood framing and insulation. A new Web site sponsored by the National Electrical Manufacturers Association gives the lowdown on AFCI technology, including safety benefits, product specs, electrical code requirements, installation guidelines, and links to AFCI manufacturers. Visit www.AFCIsafety.org.—J. Caulfield
Learn more about markets featured in this article: Little Rock, AR.