Carla Gallardo never thought she’d love a job in construction. She wanted to be an architect until her engineer father swayed her to civil engineering. Besides, no one in her family ever worked in construction, so Carla was coming into the industry blind.

Sort of. In 2008, a construction internship caught her eye while still in school at the University of Texas at El Paso. The internship, working with project engineers for over a thousand military housing units at Fort Bliss, began her career with Balfour Beatty Construction and later McCarthy Building Companies, where she works now.

Carla is one of many young female professionals entering the heavily male-dominated construction industry, which is one of the least gender-diverse industries. Women comprise 47 percent of the country’s workforce, but only nine percent of the construction industry.

Only three percent of women are employed in hands-on production roles, as opposed to administration, human resources, and marketing that make up the bulk of jobs in construction. (more…)

mortgageIt’s not unusual to see GoFundMe or other crowdfunding efforts for someone who, facing a catastrophic health crisis, can’t afford to pay their rent or mortgage. But until now, those incidents remained anecdotal.

But a study released this year by Emily A. Gallagher, Radhakrishnan Gopalan, and Michal Grinstein-Weis, professors and researchers at the University of Colorado-Boulder’s Leeds School of Business, Washington University’s Olin Business School and Washington University’s George Warren Brown School of Social Work (Grinstein-Wise is also the Associate Dean for Policy Initiatives at Washington University), respectively, reveals that data clearly indicates a relationship between having health insurance and being able to make your rent or mortgage payment.

But the data doesn’t just tell the story of people with catastrophic illnesses, but also the cascading issues that can occur from just being sick and missing work a few days, when an insured person might be able to see a doctor for more immediate relief.

“When people think of health insurance, they often think of its effect on health. They may even they go a step further and think about its effects on a person’s medical expenses and their medical debt,” the three explained in a synopsis of the study. “Our study says that health insurance has significant downstream benefits to a person’s finances that show up in their home payments.”

“These indirect benefits may not be so salient to health policymakers, but they are extremely important to the overall financial stability of the person,” they continued. “On top of this, they carry broader economic implications.” (more…)

Freelance

Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons

From staff reports

The gig economy means that more and more people are taking the plunge and working for themselves — often in a freelance capacity. The freedom of choosing projects, being your own boss, and working from home can be attractive to many.

But how much do you need to work to be able to afford to live in your city? A recent COMMERCIALCafe study compared average monthly housing expenses and a variety of coworking options that freelancers might choose in different metro areas. The results were enlightening.

Census data shows states like Texas, Florida, Nevada, Utah and Colorado’s population growing by double-digits since 2010,” the company said. “In Texas, six counties―Harris, Tarrant, Bexar, Dallas, Denton and Collin — are among the top 10 net gainers in terms of numbers.”

The south had the most freelance workers — 37 percent of those responding said they worked in the region. Plano and Houston were among the best picks, in fact, for those who wanted access to a private office at an affordable price. (more…)

Once again, Frisco makes national Real Estate news, not for being the very best community to live, or the fastest-growing community in the U.S., but for being oversupplied with brand new homes as the real estate market shifts from a seller’s paradise to a buyer’s market, and as new home sales dip nationwide by almost 9 percent:

The shift may be most pronounced in what were once the most sizzling markets. Consider Frisco, Texas, a city 30 miles north of Dallas, where narrowly spaced villas of stone and brick have replaced cow pastures. Its population nearly doubled over the past decade, to 177,000. Its 8 percent jump last year made it the fastest-growing city in America.

Prashant Gopal is an excellent journalist and a friend of our’s from NAREE. He writes in Bloomberg of how falling sales and diving housing stocks are also affecting real estate agents in Frisco, who seem to be taking the biggest hits from each other as they shrink commissions in the “builder battleground”:

On a recent weekday, Konara, the real estate broker, drives his Dodge minivan along Highway 380, a builder battleground, where national giants such as Lennar, Toll Brothers, and PulteGroup go head to head with Texas companies. He stops at sales offices, where balloons festoon posts in a vain effort to spur sales. He points to empty houses that he says were completed six months ago.

His own sales are half what they were in 2016. In many cases, he’s rebating to customers all but $1,000 of his commission on each home sale. He walks into an Indian restaurant for lunch and looks up at the television screen. A competitor, the “Maximum Cash Back Realtor,” says he’ll take only $750. “You know what that means,” Konara says. “I’ll have to do the same.”

Prashant drew attention to the fact that Frisco is also home to the glittering Legacy West, transplant nirvana with Toyota headquarters (which may have subsidized some homes for employees) as well as Dallas Cowboys headquarters, where any day you can see real estate agents dining alongside football players and the Jones family. I believe the agents he is talking to, like Konara, but I also had to check with the man who’s company sells more of Frisco than anyone: J.P. Piccinini:

JP and Associates

(more…)

Huge Wall Street Journal story being circulated via Twitter, etc. today, The U.S. Housing Boom Is Coming to an End, Starting in Dallas.”

Dallas, really?

“Home prices zoomed higher in recent years, and mortgage rates are climbing. Buyers are queasy.”

Now we know our market is not as hot as it was in 2015 and 2016, two of the hottest years for DFW real estate values, which have really growth-spurted in recent years. As the WSJ puts it, affordability has gotten “out of whack with historic norms.” A median priced home is now about $235,000 in Dallas, about 50 percent more than what it cost in 2007 before the Great Recession. We know that the corporate relocations to Plano and areas north have cooled, with transplants’ primary homes, at least, snapped up. But (and I actually have many “buts” here) I might use another verb other than “sputter“:
PLANO, Texas—A half-hour drive straight north from downtown Dallas sits one of the fastest-growing counties in the country. Cotton fields have been replaced with Toyota’s new North American headquarters, a Dallas Cowboys training facility and a sand-colored shopping strip with a Tesla dealership and a three-story food hall.

Yet even with the booming growth, Dallas’s once vibrant housing market is sputtering. In the high-end subdivisions in the suburb of Frisco, builders are cutting prices on new homes by up to $150,000. On one street alone, $4 million of new homes sat empty on a visit earlier this month. Some home builders are so desperate to attract interest they are offering agents the chance to win Louis Vuitton handbags or Super Bowl tickets with round-trip airfare, if their clients buy a home. Yet fresh-baked cookies sit uneaten at sparsely attended open houses.

First of all, developers have long offered agents perks to sell their homes — hate to tell you, but Louis Vuitton handbag lures are nothing new. (I sure hope they are not knock-offs!) We have talked before about the North Texas slow down, particularly in million dollar plus homes.

How many ways can an agent say “price reduced” without really saying it?

(more…)

Manufacturing jobs posted higher numbers, and wages increases provided high points in the June 2018 report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

When it comes to buying a home in hot North Texas markets, what’s holding a lot of buyers back — besides inventory — is income. With so much of a recent graduate’s paycheck going toward exorbitant student loans, and with many families making the tough choice of forgoing homeownership so one parent can stay home with young children, income stagnation is a huge issue. 

So it was heartening to hear that after months of slow-to-zero wage growth in the US, now nine years removed from the Great Recession, that non-farm payroll got a significant boost. Tempering the good news was a contraction in the retail industry, driving up employment to 4 percent.

(more…)

There’s been a pretty steady drumbeat from leading economists — a recession is coming. In fact, at this month’s National Association of Real Estate Editors journalism convention, all three economists on a dais one Friday found themselves agreeing on two things: a recession is coming, and real estate won’t be the impetus this time.

Frank Nothaft (Corelogic chief economist), Danielle Hale (economist with Realtor.com), George Ratiu (research director with the National Association of Realtors), and Aaron Terrazas (senior economist with Zillow) all agreed that other factors — like tariffs, rising mortgage rates, and even a correction in the stock market — will likely be the cause or causes for a recession. (more…)

The only hope many younger generations have to accumulate wealth is to stay cozy with grandma. Since 1995 (over a decade before the Recession), the median wealth of 25-34 year olds declined 39 percent, while 35-44 year olds declined 27 percent, and 45-54 year olds’ wealth declined 15 percent. There have been potent gains reported from 2013 to 2016, but obviously not nearly enough to offset long-term losses. The main culprits are excessive student loan debt and the decline in homeownership rates. You might say the growth of student loan debt has heavily contributed to lowered homeownership rates. To me, the chart below demonstrates why down payments are harder for younger buyers to save up for.

(more…)