Total Destruction: What Will Hurricane Harvey do to the Houston Real Estate Market?

We begin our week by telling friends and relatives in South Texas how very, very sorry we are for the destruction they are experiencing. Harvey the Horrible is filling Houston with water. Five deaths have been reported. More than 1,000 people have been rescued from the flooding while the city of Houston has responded to 56,000 9-1-1 calls since late Saturday. And at least 50 Texas counties south and east of us have been declared disasters. People are being pulled from cars, like this. 

Friends tell me they are basically stuck at home — “army choppers in the air, roads flooded and closed.” Mayor Turner says they have had an unprecedented amount of water, coming in at three to four inches per hour. First it was 44 inches predicted, then 50, which is more than four feet of water! Streets, businesses and homes are filling with water and damage is going to be in the billions, as much as $10 billion. For most people, the destruction will be worse than previous storms where most damage came from wind, which is covered by their homeowner’s insurance. Flooding generally is not.

The images are terrifying. And Houston’s bayous are overflowing and they are filled with critters: fish, alligators, and snakes. 

Harvey arrived late Friday evening, pummeling coastal communities near Corpus Christi, like Rockport and Port Aransas, and the vacation homes communities near Cinnamon Shores. Harvey roared in a Category 4 hurricane, then downgraded to a tropical storm and moved north. The storm then settled over Houston and literally began dumping rain. It will likely rain all week long. Harvey is being called an unprecedented event and the worst storm to hit Texas in at least 50 years … or maybe ever!

It looks like Dallas won’t see much from Harvey, just a few inches of rain. Central Texas is also getting drenched. Our Hill Country property is getting a lot of rain, though, and we expect tanks to be filled. 

But Dallas is helping Houston, as we all want to. The city mobilized a shelter on Walnut Hill Lane, which quickly filled up, leading to a second shelter at the Tommie Allen Recreation Center in South Dallas. I have just heard of a third shelter opening. Pets need extra help (and comfort) during extreme weather events, and Dallas is lending a hand. (We have a drive in our neighborhood). 

You can drop off non-perishable food, toiletries, diapers, clothing, and bedding at Trusted World at 15660 N. Dallas Parkway from 3 to 8 p.m. every day. 

Very cool: Airbnb hosts in Dallas and other Texas cities can open up their homes to Hurricane Harvey evacuees for free until Sept. 1.

The Red Cross is taking donations. Go online, call 1-800-RED CROSS, or text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

The Salvation Army is taking donations. 

Carter Blood Care is sending donations to South Texas. Here’s where your nearest location is.

Gov. Abbott stripped the fees from all state parks, for those who need to find shelter and will no longer be able to camp. I have to ask, what are you doing in a National Park with a Hurricane swirling? No, this is not a time to camp. 

Finally, some newspapers have lowered their paywalls to keep everyone informed. The Houston Chronicle did this almost immediately, and you might want to read their comprehensive reporting. I’m speed-reading Todd Miller’s Storming the Wall.

Also, many of our local title and mortgage companies have sister offices in Houston that will likely all be closed. Capital Title sent a message to their water-soaked Houston employees to stay home with family and stay safe. I’ll check in with the Houston Association of Realtors later in the day. And we will be on the outlook for any news we can bring you real-estate wise: what will Harvey do to the Houston market?

Want some good news? Take a look at Cinnamon Shores: it appears their well-built vacation homes have survived and stood up to Harvey with broad shoulders. We’ll be talking to folks this week who have vacation homes in the Texas Gulf Coast to see if their homes fared as well, and talk through our collective worst nightmare: when a storm strikes the vacation home.

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