Depot Sells Pro Unit The Home Depot must now reassess how it can capture more business from pro customers through its retail stores after agreeing to sell its HD Supply business unit for $10.3 billion to an investment consortium that includes Bain Capital, The Carlyle Group, and Clayton, Dubilier & Rice. Last year, HD Supply generated $12.1 billion in revenue from nearly 1,000 branches nationwide that provide goods and services to residential and commercial contractors. The Home Depot, the industry's largest home-improvement retailer, projected that HD Supply would expand to between $22 billion and $25 billion by 2012, but the division's selling price fell below the $13 billion some analysts thought it might fetch.—J. Caulfield
Two Down The housing industry lost two highly respected analysts in recent months when Margaret Whelan and Ivy Zelman stepped away from the business. Whelan, who left her post as managing director at UBS' Consumer Group, where she tracked housing industry stocks, moved to J.P. Morgan Chase in July. She'll continue to watch the housing industry, but as an investment banker. Zelman resigned in June as managing director at Credit Suisse, where she also served as an equity research analyst covering 22 housing industry companies. At press time, Zelman had not publicly announced her next business venture.—E. Butterfield
Retirement Rodeo Florida remains the top location for retirees, but Texas has overtaken Arizona and California for the No. 2 spot. That's from a recent study from the North Carolina Center for Creative Retirement, a nationally known center for tracking retirement migration trends. According to the study of 2005 U.S. Census data, Florida attracted 16.6 percent of retirees, down from 19.1 percent five years earlier. Texas drew 6.8 percent of retirees, who were attracted to the state for its good weather and low cost of living.—P. Curry
Come Back for More Indymac Bank is rewarding builders for good behavior with BUILDER Encore, a relationship-based loan approval program that offers increased loan amounts and other incentives to repeat customers with a history of strong financial performance and adherence to project timelines. The program's online project-tracking and disbursement system allows quick access to loan funds and is automated to expedite repeat loan applications. Visit www.indymacbuilder.com.—J. Sullivan
Money Shift As the housing market slows, more investors are dumping real estate holdings and making the switch back to stocks. Real estate “isn't as lucrative as it used to be,” says Jack Patterson, a financial adviser in Coral Gables, Fla., so exchange-traded funds and mutual funds are looking like better options. This switch from real estate to stocks is part of the natural cycle investors go through, first loving an investment class then hating it, says Robert Shiller, a Yale professor of economics.—N.F. Maynard
SOURCE: USA TODAY
Say Hello Home builders used to pump Frank Sinatra's music into the model homes of their active adult communities. Now that the first baby boomers are past 60, the in-house soundtrack is playing tunes like The Beatles' “Hello Goodbye.” Also gone are golf courses, replaced by smaller neighborhoods and jogging trails. There are no peace signs or lava lamps at Pulte's newest 55-plus community in Elk Grove, Calif., but a flat screen TV plays the 1969 movie “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.”—S. Zurier
SOURCE: SACRAMENTO BEE
Window Treatment What do homeowners want most in a window? In a recent online survey of more than 25,000 homeowners, conducted by New York City–based Ventura Associates for Simonton Windows, 72 percent of respondents rated energy efficiency (and specifically Energy Star status) No. 1, followed by low maintenance (11 percent), and security (6 percent). Energy efficiency also ranked as the top concern among homeowners interested in window replacement when the same survey was conducted in 2006.—J.S.
Voters' Rights Florida Hometown Democracy, a grass-roots organization, has been gathering signatures for a state constitutional amendment that will require voter approval before any changes are made to Florida's comprehensive land-use plans. “Too many county and city commissioners just cannot say no to comprehensive plan amendments that are destructive to a community's well being,” says co-organizer Lesley Blackner, on its Web site. But in a widely published critique, Leonard Gilroy, an adjunct scholar of The James Madison Institute, a policy center in Tallahassee, Fla., writes that this “anti-growth” group's agenda is a threat to Florida's long-range economic health at a time when the state expects to add nearly 13 million more people by 2030.—J.C.
Learn more about markets featured in this article: Orlando, FL.