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Consumers pessimistic with income growth stagnant

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Fannie Mae’s Home Purchase Sentiment Index dropped 2.1 points in June as more consumers reported mixed views on housing and income growth.

The share who said it is a good time to sell a home increased 5 percentage points to a survey high of 18 percent, and those who said it is a good time to buy rose 3 points to 32 percent, but the share of consumers who expect home prices to go up dropped 9 percent points and the number who said they are not concerned about losing their jobs fell 4 points.

Also, fewer consumers reported a positive outlook on the state of the economy — those who think the economy is on the wrong track ticked up to 59 percent in June.

“Pending home sales have pulled back in the face of continued home price growth, and we’re seeing some softening in the higher priced components of the market,” said Doug Duncan, senior vice president and chief economist at Fannie Mae. “Growing pessimism about the overall direction of the economy gives us further pause as it now stands at the highest level we’ve seen in our National Housing Survey in the last two years. Meaningful improvement in the housing market going forward will likely require consistent upward movement in consumers’ income growth perceptions, which have thus far been stagnant. Also helpful would be an acceleration of supply accumulation of entry-level homes, which would moderate the growth of real home prices and increase affordability.”

Lost life insurance policy? There’s help

Commissioner Karen Weldin Stewart announced that the state Department of Insurance (DOI) now provides Delaware residents and their families with a free search service that can help locate missing life insurance policies or annuity contracts left behind by loved ones who have passed away.

The service works like this: An executor, beneficiary or legal representative of a deceased resident or former resident of Delaware may file a search request with the Department of Insurance. To submit a request, print out the Missing Life Insurance/Annuity Search Request Form on the DOI website.

DOI officials said the department does not guarantee that every requested policy will be found. Upon receipt of the request form, the department will send the search request and any attachments to all Delaware-licensed life insurance companies for review.

Judge rules against organized labor in prevailing wage suit

A judge has ruled that the University of Delaware is not a subdivision of state government for the purposes of Delaware’s prevailing wage law. The ruling came in a lawsuit filed by organized labor seeking to force the university to pay wages set by Delaware’s Department of Labor for workers on state construction projects.

The university received about $120 million in taxpayer dollars in this year’s state operating budget. But the judge noted that the General Assembly expressly excluded the university from the definition of state agency in revising the state procurement act in 1996. He also said that the prevailing wage law applies only when state-appropriated funds are used for construction projects, and that the university acts in a private capacity when contracting for building construction.

Graham Cancer Center and Wistar Institute partner to expand research

To accelerate breakthrough cancer research in the human genome, the Gene Editing Institute at Christiana Care’s Helen F. Graham Cancer Center & Research Institute has entered into an agreement with The Wistar Institute.

The agreement expands the historic partnership between the Graham Cancer Center, one of the nation’s largest community cancer centers, and Wistar, the nation’s first National Cancer Institute (NCI) designated cancer center dedicated solely to biomedical research. In this partnership, the Gene Editing Institute will be integrated into Wistar’s Molecular Screening Facility, which will allow its innovative gene editing technologies to be made available to research projects at Wistar and to external users.

The Gene Editing Institute will retain its management structure and will remain located at the Graham Cancer Center on the Christiana Hospital Campus in Newark. The Molecular Screening Facility will remain housed at Wistar in Philadelphia.

This latest agreement enhances the bold research partnership between the Graham Cancer Center, an NCI Community Oncology Research Program and one of the first NCI-selected community cancer centers, and The Wistar Institute, the nation’s first NCI-designated research center solely devoted to cancer biology research. The NCI has called the historic partnership “extraordinary and innovative.”

The partnership, established in 2011, is the first-ever inter-institutional affiliation between an NCI-designated basic research institution and a community cancer center. Together, Graham Cancer Center clinicians and scientists at Wistar are collaborating on research projects targeting ovarian cancer, breast cancer and more, in addition to studies on lung cancer
and melanoma.

Kraft Heinz gets $1.2 million from state to create jobs

The Kraft Heinz Co. is set to receive state funds to create 28 full-time jobs at its Dover plant.

The Delaware Council on Development Finance approved two grant requests totaling about $1.2 million for the factory. Of that amount, $1.05 million will be used to upgrade the plant’s bakery division, while an additional $131,130 will come from the state strategic fund for the creation of the new jobs. The grants will be issued through the Delaware Economic Development Office.

Dover’s economic development director William Neaton says additional jobs from Kraft Heinz’s Federalsburg, Md., plant could also be transferred to Dover. The company announced in November that it is planning on closing seven plants, including the Federalsburg facility, which is located just across the Maryland-Delaware line by Bridgeville.

Delaware State Housing Authority awards housing tax credits

The Delaware State Housing Authority has awarded low-income housing tax credits to four of the nine nonprofits and for-profit companies that applied for help building their projects — Severn Development Co. building Jefferson Estate II in Lewes, Delaware Center for Homeless Veterans for Pearl Center in Wilmington, Green Street Housing for Halls Heritage in Millsboro and the Ministry of Caring for Village of St. John in Wilmington.

Delaware has a limited amount of tax credits, which can be used against an investor’s federal tax liability. The awardee sells the credits, which are given every year for 10 years, to investors.

Jefferson Estates II was awarded $518,044 in low-income housing tax credits.

Pearl Center was awarded $913,337 in tax credits.

Halls Heritage was awarded $792,137 in tax credits.

Village of St. John was awarded $778,622 in tax credits.

Home health care as high as $53K a year

The cost to receive long-term care services at home with a home health aide has increased nationally and in Delaware, according to long-term-care insurer Genworth’s 13th annual Cost of Care Study. Home is where most Americans receive long-term care. Overall, long-term care costs across all care settings in Delaware, including home care, adult day services, assisted living and nursing facilities, are up from 2015.

“Although home care costs are much less expensive than those in facility-based settings, the costs can add up to as much as $53,768 per year in Delaware, which is why it’s imperative for consumers to begin planning now for how they will pay for that care should they need it,” said Tom McInerney, president of the insurance company. He estimated 70 percent of Americans over age 65 will need some form of long-term care services during their lives.

Median monthly costs for a home-health aide in Delaware are $4,491, compared to a national cost of $3,861, according to the study, and the median monthly cost for homemaker services is $4,195, compared with $3,813 nationally.

The survey said adult day services cost $1,419 a month in Delaware, less than nationally, but assisted living costs were $5,368, much more than the national monthly average of $3,628. Private home nursing costs $9,901 a month.

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