water Spigot

We’re reporting from the National Association of Real Estate Editors Houston Conference today and it has been an incredible morning just stewing with new information. The opening remarks were especially mind-boggling, as Counselors of Real Estate chair Hugh F. Kelly listed the top 10 issues facing real estate now and into the future.

“The list reflects growing economic and political turmoil, changing demographics, and the lifestyle choices of an emerging generation, rising energy independence in the United States, and a strengthening job market fueled in part by massive changes in the delivery of health care,” Kelly said.

For the full list, jump.


Core Logic ForeclosuresSo D’Ann Petersen told Sheryl Jean at the Dallas Morning News that home prices are rising so fast in North Texas, she’s tempted to sell her house. D’Ann Petersen is a business economist for the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.

My question for her is this: if you sell, where would you go? Inventory is so low in Dallas, you almost have to jump on Hip Pockets or what I call “Pre-Sales” to buy a home.  What with lean inventories, low interest rates, decent job growth and way fewer distressed sales, the Dallas market is almost, almost back to the Golden Days.

Yeah, it’s great out there: Dallas-area single-family home values rose 7 percent in January from a year earlier, according to Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller latest Home Price Index. Those are the gloom and doom peeps, if you recall, so when Bob Shiller says it’s good, like an 11th straight monthly gain, it’s very good. Remember, Case-Shiller only tracks re-sales of existing homes, not new home construction, or anything going vertical from the likes of Darling Homes or other large homebuilders, condos or townhomes. So the sale of Tim Headington’s condo? Not included.

According to David Blitzer, managing director of S&P Dow Jones Indices, we are back to fall 2003 levels when it comes to values.

I wonder what hemlines were doing in 2003?

The news was really good for all 20 metropolitan areas in Case-Shiller’s index. Phoenix killed it with a 23 percent increase, since Phoenix was a poster child of declining values in 2007 to 2011. Eight metro areas — Atlanta, Detroit, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, Phoenix and San Francisco — reported double-digit gains. The rest, including Dallas, rose in the 7 to 8 percent vicinity. U.S. residential shadow inventory — the stuff hiding in the wings to be unloaded on the market –fell 18 percent in January from a year ago, this in CoreLogic’s report earlier this week. Local foreclosures are all but gone: Steve Brown reported that 1.2 percent of Dallas-area homes with mortgages were in foreclosure last month, down slightly from a year ago. And CoreLogic estimates that 11,118 Dallas-area homes have gone through foreclosure in the 12 months ending with February. Most of those are in the peripheral areas of Dallas.

Like they used to say about General Motors, what’s good for housing is great for the U.S. economy. With mortgage balances up for 1.7 million homeowners, housing wealth has grown by $1.4 trillion and is drivings consumer spending. Taxes, too: don’t think the Dallas County Appraisal District and it’s nether cousins won’t be all over these price increases.

The Dallas Fed also reported this week that Texas manufacturing and service indexes showed a pickup in activity in March. U.S. single-family housing starts are still anemic, rising 0.8 percent in February after a decline in January, but my CandysDirt Approved home builders tell me that is about to change.

Petersen said “some of my contacts said builders want to build as fast as they can but they’re limited by some labor issues.” Well, it’s not just that all the labor packed up and left during the greatest recession since the Great Depression, but it is incredibly hard to find lots! Any home builder who picked up dirt during the bust is sitting pretty, and my guys tell me that once they go vertical, the homes are snapped up. Lots are increasing in price, too, along with housing prices making it all just more expensive.

I’m telling you: inflation, here we come.



You must have heard by now that we here in Dallas are not living in sync with the rest of the nation. I had to make a quick trip to Rockford, Ill. over the weekend and was that an eye-opener real estate wise: things just are not moving, values just stuck. So it did not shock me at all that Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller Home Price Index came out Tuesday and Dallas is one of seven cities where prices are improving. Like, inching upwards. That would be us, Charlotte, Denver, Detroit, Miami, Minneapolis and Phoenix, the ONLY cities in the 20-city metro composite where the annual rates of return, or home prices, are getting better.

Detroit, I get. When you can buy a $500,000 home for $49,000, folks go shopping. Ditto Phoenix, though I think that market still needs vitamins and then still has a way to go. What can you do in Phoenix besides wear a lot of sunscreen and golf, which is a dying game? Miami? Easy, water. Lots of foreign buyers sweeping in to buy up deals, and the deals are there. I’d buy in Miami in a heartbeat. A high-end agent I met a few weeks ago, Eloy Carmenate, tells me Miami luxury properties are selling like hotcakes.

And now, Dallas-area home prices are up 1.5% in March from a year ago, up for the first time in more than 20 months. We are obviously doing something right.

Nationwide, home prices continued to fall — down 2.6 percent from March 2011, according to Case-Shiller. The last time the Dallas Case-Shiller index showed an increase was in June 2010, when prices were 1.2 percent higher than a year earlier and following the “First-Time Homebuyer’s Credit” deal that accelerated a lot of purchases. The price index then fell for 20 straight months. Kaput.

Dr. James Gaines with the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University has good vibes about the market this year. Good — not great. We may start seeing some fairly significant percentage increases during the next couple of months or so, he says, in some coveted areas, but his projection for the year as a whole is conservative.

I’m impressed: local reports show that pre-owned home sales prices in North Texas are up 6 percent so far this year compared with the same period of 2011. Pre-owned home sales were up 14 percent in the first four months of this year.

I just don’t understand Atlanta, where home sales prices fell 17.7 percent in March, according to Case-Shiller. Or Las Vegas, where prices were down 7.5 percent. Chicago, and really most of northern Illinois are hurting down 7.1 percent in Chicago from a year earlier. And that’s Obama territory.

Keep in mind Case-Shiller tracks single-family homes, no condominium and townhouse sales, and no new construction sales are included in the index. Knowing what’s happening development-wise in Frisco and McKinney, I would call our Case-Shiller numbers conservative.

But why are we doing so well? I know that some parts of town are still sluggish, while others are experiencing multiple offers and a one-month supply of inventory. Park Cities and parts of Lakewood are now a seller’s market. Sunnyvale doing well, too. In fact, lack of housing stock seems to be our biggest concern right now. In fact, I am starting to write about homes not in MLS, on the market, that are selling without ever touching MLS. Example: 4001 Turtle Creek.

I dialed up David Brown at MetroStudy and hope to hear from him soon. Meantime, please tell me what you think. Why is the Dallas market doing better than so many others — and why is Houston not up here with us? And why is Atlanta tanking? Does it have anything to do with how the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area adds another person every four minutes and 10 seconds, making us the fastest-growing metropolitan area in America?

Dallas-Fort Worth swelled with 126,037 residents between July 1, 2010, and the same date last year, according to newly released population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau . So I guess everyone’s moving here, and working, and buying homes. Is there anything else we do right?

According to Hexter-Fair Title Company, total sales for the region are already surpassing 2011 numbers.

I love Dallas, y’all.

We’ve got a lot of things going for us. Take our beautiful Arts District, our growing Southern sector, and our rebounding downtown, for example. And according to Standard & Poors/Case-Schiller Home Price Indices, Dallas is maintaining its ground when it comes to residential real estate.

In the S&P/C-S report released today, nationwide, home prices are dipping by 3.5 percent over the past year ending in February. In Dallas, though, prices were flat.

Normally, when people say that something was flat, it’s more like, “Meh, things are flat. Whatever.” But y’all, I’m sure Atlanta would LOVE for their home prices to be flat. If you bought a house there in the past year, it is worth 17 percent less today than a year ago. SEVENTEEN PERCENT LESS! Crazy.

And while S&P says Dallas’ market is flat, well, Hexter-Fair Title Company is a bit more optimistic. In a presentation to Allie Beth Allman agents last week, numbers culled from NTREIS reports show that total residential sales for 2012 are already surpassing 2011 sales through February. Some agents are even saying that sales are actually up 5 percent if you follow MLS numbers.

Really, though, it’s evidence of what many agents have been telling us for weeks: It’s a seller’s market, and there’s a lot of new buyers looking for quality homes. And boy, do we have the inventory!

So far, 2012 is off to a good start, and as long as the world doesn’t end, it looks to be a great year for Dallas Dirt! Do you agree?