Early Briefing: How to Keep Building Homes

It's Monday, which means the Business section is all local.

(By Tracy A. Woodward -- The Washington Post)

*NVR of Reston is still posting profits in the current housing downturn. It learned its lesson in the last one, when it filed for bankruptcy protection. Now its business plan is based on offering houses at a variety of prices, picking its spots to build carefully and not buying land outright. Instead, it options to buy land that generally has infrastructure in place.

*Financial institutions such as Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and major lenders have to rely to a certain extent on subjective estimates to come up with crucial figures, such as the size of reserves they hold. The current environment makes those decisions even more difficult.

*Stephen Barr writes in his Federal Diary column about Jeremiah Johnson, who was teaching English in the Ukraine as a Peace Corps volunteer. He tested positive for HIV, and the Peace Corps brought him back to Washington and discharged him.

"They told me it was Peace Corps policy for HIV-positive people to be medically separated," Johnson said in an interview. "I was told I could not work anywhere else for the Peace Corps."

*Venture capitalists invested $264.6 million in the Washington area in the first three months of 2008, up 13.9 percent from the comparable period a year earlier, according to a MoneyTree report from PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association. The report was based on data from Thomson Reuters.

Find out about firms that received funding, including a snack maker, a social-networking site and one whose business model sprang from a fishbowl.

*Sheila Johnson, the billionaire luxury hospitality mogul, co-owner of sports teams, Barack Obama fund-raiser and a violinist, had her documentary film, "A Powerful Noise," accepted at Robert De Niro's Tribeca Film Festival.

*Carlos Castro had planned to open a Todos Supermarket in Dumfries before the housing downturn and crackdown on illegal immigration. So now he's hoping to expand his base beyond the traditional Hispanic clientele.

*A new U Street store called Dekka features all-local merchandise from clothing designers, artists and musicians.

*Nearly six months ago, the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction said it couldn't do an audit of a contract to train Iraqi police that had been given to DynCorp of Falls Church. But last week the company and the State Department got a better report card.

*The District has its first Harris Teeter grocery store - an Adams Morgan location had its grand opening on Wednesday.

By Terri Rupar  |  April 28, 2008; 5:00 AM ET  | Category:  Morning Brief
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