home vacancies

It’s happening.  The real estate market in Tarrant County is officially slowing down.  This past week, the Fort Worth Housing Report indicated that the number of closed homes in July 2019 was down nearly 4 percent from July 2018.

Inventory of homes in Tarrant County has increased, and total days on market, from listing-to-close, jumped six days from 2018 to 2019.  Prices have barely increased in the past 12 months, and this could be why we are starting to see issues with appraisals.

What’s The Home Worth?

Regardless of we want to believe, we don’t live in a free-market society.  If a home is listed at $X and a buyer is willing to pay $X (or in recent years more than $X) the true value of the home is only going to be what the bank is willing to lend, and that all starts with the biggest enigma of all: the appraisal.


The mood in Washington, D.C. these days is to unwind regulation. So I guess we should not be surprised that the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency recently said it is considering going commando, so to speak, on appraisals for residential real estate transactions under $400,000. The current rules in place now do not require appraisals for properties at $250,000 and below. That threshold is being inched up in the name of burden relief.

Instead of an appraisal, transactions below $400,000 would require an “evaluation”. (I’m guessing AVMs.) Ryan Lunquist, who started a petition against what real estate experts are calling a very dangerous move as well as job killer, says it will be individuals who have no appraisal licenses or certification, and are not subject to state regulatory oversight requirements that govern appraisers. The evaluators could even be an “independent bank employee” or unnamed “third part(ies).” They would, however, have to be “competent” and possess “knowledge of the market, location and type of real property being valued.””

What is a bit more disturbing to me, and probably most Realtors, is how the proposal, which is a joint agreement between the Office of the Comptroller of Currency (OCC), the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, could put a greater emphasis on the property valuations given by real estate portals like Zillow and Redfin, which offer online “zestimates” that we know are not accurate, particularly in a non-disclosure state like Texas. Zillow and Redfin have been sued for vast valuation inaccuracies.

This could also be a real job-killer for the appraisal industry, coming in just as the crosswinds re changing in real estate.



By Lydia Blair
Special Contributor

We’ve all heard about the two things you can’t avoid – death and taxes. Just like there is a life cycle, there is a property tax cycle. The tax cycle is a lot easier to predict.

This life cycle of property taxes follows the same pattern every year. If you’re a Texas homeowner, your property is somewhere in this predictable rotation.

I offer you a synopsis of the tax collection cycle. Follow along with the snazzy graph I made from information from the Texas Tax Code.


According to a recent report from Zillow, a significant number of markets across the nation are seeing price reductions across all ranges. Is that a sign of depreciation? What can buyers and sellers expect when it comes to the bidding process?

In this weeks BobMortgage Zone episode, Bob Johnson (AKA BobMortgage) tells us what these lower listing prices and “corrections” are — and especially what they aren’t. Get the pulse of the real estate market with Bob Johnson, senior mortgage adviser at the nation’s oldest private lender, Wallick & Volk.


On Monday, the City of Austin filed suit against the Texas Comptroller's Office over the state's ad-valorem tax system.

On Monday, the City of Austin filed suit against the Texas Comptroller’s Office over the state’s ad-valorem tax system.

The end of sales price non-disclosure might be near, if the suit filed by the City of Austin against the Texas comptroller’s office is any indication. Austin Mayor Steve Adler, who submitted the 10-page suit on Monday, argued that the ad-valorem taxation system is unconstitutional because it isn’t “equal and uniform.”

Texas is one of the few states that, instead of relying for sales figures for tax purposes, employs an appraisal system. However, with skyrocketing values for residential properties in Travis County, commercial valuations haven’t grown nearly so much. It’s becoming a big problem, the suit suggests.

“The lack of sales disclosures has made it nearly impossible for appraisal districts to comply with their statutory and constitutional duty to assess all properties at market value so that taxation is equal and uniform,” the lawsuit states.


Do the rich know something we don’t know? Well, I want in on their secret. Because it’s almost downright eerie how many¬† cash buyers are out there. Generally, they are commanding a 10 to 20% discount when they flash cash at sellers. Why? Because the seller knows the sale is a slam-dunk — no need to worry about appraisals matching up, no need to worry about qualifying by a bank, no last minute glitches. Cash is king, and it is accounting for 31% of the sales in California. On a recent piece I did for AOL, I found that cash transactions just may be a good sign of a market bottoming out: in all the distressed markets, cash purchases are on the upswing.

So you think, why would someone buy a home with cash? (Remember the old phrase, use someone else s’ money?) Rob Hahn is a highly respected real estate consultant I have met through my Inman connections, who, by the way, needs to be welcomed to Texas: he just relocated to Houston. I really like what he has to say: the rich are buying with cash because they know something we don’t know: inflation is about to hit.