flood

Texas National Guard soldiers arrive in Houston on August 27, 2017, to aid residents affected by Hurricane Harvey. (Photo: Texas Army National Guard)

So many people lost everything — homes, cars, and all their possessions — in the wrath wrought by Hurricane Harvey. But there’s another category of people who were just as badly affected by this record-breaking storm: renters. 

In some cases, renters are required to continue paying rent on uninhabitable apartments and homes, and some can’t even work, with many businesses either wiped away, flooded, or otherwise damaged. If your apartment or home is uninhabitable and you’ve notified your landlord about terminating your lease in writing, the next step is finding someplace else to live. This can be daunting, but RentCafe and its parent company, Yardi, have teamed up to help.

Yardi, the California-based property management software company, has created a free online housing registry where displaced residents can find new places to live in the affected region and beyond.

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Real Estate Story

Hurricane Harvey made landfall on the South Texas coastline on Aug. 25. In Houston, the endless rain would take its toll on the city, leaving much of it underwater for days.

The moment Hurricane Harvey hit, everyone called family and friends to see if they were safe and find out what we could do. My first call was to my friends Suzy and Brian. Brian is a vice president with an energy company. Suzy is a designer and owner of an antique shop. They have two boys and a Labradoodle. They live in West Houston close to Buffalo Bayou. This is their story. (more…)

There is nothing like being in your own warm, dry, clean home. But for almost one-third of Houston and residents in other southeast Texas coastal cities, that feeling will be several months off. But the Texas real estate community is gearing up in a frenzy that almost rivals the size of the cat 4 storm that has crippled and drowned out Houston and the Texas Gulf coast. As we hear about these missions, big or small, we will pass them along. 

Keller Williams’ has always been one of the first brokerages to respond to tragedy. KW’s charity arm, KW Cares, has three bright-red 18-wheeler trucks parked at a depot outside Austin, Texas, ready to enter Houston:

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Magnolia Texas mansion

37307 Diamond Oaks Drive Magnolia, TX 77355 $ 18,750,000 Price change 23.47%

Is the economic slump from low oil prices finally catching up with the Houston real estate market?

The Houston Association of Realtors said that buyers closed on 7,204 single family homes in July, median prices were at $230,000, and volume slumped to the lowest since January.

Houston Chronicle Editor Nancy Sarnoff  says no one is pinning one thing for the decline in home sales, and HAR claims the market in Texas’s largest city is still healthy. Like Dallas, Houston real estate is hurting at the highest end of the market. Unlike Dallas, it is also hurting at the lowest:

Sales were off in all price categories, with the worst declines in the lowest and highest ends of the market, according to the data, which is based on sales handled through the multiple listing service throughout throughout primarily Harris, Fort Bend and Montgomery counties.

Inventory, while still low by historical standards, reached 4 months in July, the highest it’s been since the fall of 2012.

Interesting: Townhome and condominium sales fell 7.4 percent in July and inventory bumped up 3.5 months, up from 3 months last year.

Leasing is on the rise: single-family leases were up 2.3 percent, while townhome/condominium leases jumped 10.6 percent. The average rent for a single-family Houston home was $1,879 per month, average rent for townhomes/condominiums $1,630.

“We never like to see a decline in home sales, but it’s helpful to remember that our comparisons each month are to a record year in 2015,” Arriaga said in a statement. “July was the first time in several months when even mid-range housing saw declines.”

Yeah, we know. Saying the same thing in Dallas. To be honest, I spoke to a Realtor today who is finding a home for a Houston family in the Dallas area, Ty Vaughn with Robert Elliot & Associates. He told me they sold their $1,000,000 Houston home in two weeks. Not bad at all. Like most reporting, it probably depends on neighborhood, location, schools, etc.

River Oaks Mansion Houston

3465 Overbrook Ln Houston, TX 77027 $ 7,775,000 Price change 2.20%

But look at the sales activity down there, fascinating:  (more…)

Real Estate Story
build wealth

Photo: Marco Becerra via Creative Commons

Everything’s bigger in Texas, including our ability to build wealth.

That’s according to a new study by Bankrate that surveyed the the 18 largest metro areas in the U.S. according to how strong of an environment they provide for making and saving money. Houston ranked No. 1, and Dallas ranked No. 6.

The rankings were created after consulting with experts on which factors should be considered in a conversation about wealth. Here’s what the experts told them were the biggest contributors:

  • After-tax, savable income: This is what’s left over after taxes and necessary expenses. It’s what you could sock away in an interest-bearing account.
  • The job market: Can workers find jobs at competitive wages?
  • Human capital: Can residents find educational opportunities to help advance their careers and earn more money later?
  • Access to financial services: Do people have access to financial products that allow them to invest, save and borrow efficiently?
  • The local housing market: For better or for worse, homeownership is a key way Americans build wealth. If a local housing market is struggling, it can be harder for prospective homebuyers to get a mortgage and for homeowners to accumulate equity.

Other factors considered included participation rates for retirement plans like 401(k)s, a major wealth-building tool for middle-class households. As they noted, “whether or not an employer offers one has a lot to do with the city, both in terms of culture (whether employers think it’s the right thing to do) and supply and demand.”

“If you’re in an area where the unemployment rate is very low, then the employers have to compete for you, and part of how employers compete for you is they offer benefits and they offer retirement plans,” Christian Weller, an economist at the University of Massachusetts Boston, told Bankrate. “Employers do compete on a regional level, on a city level, for talent.”

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Photo courtesy of Flickr user Russ through a Creative Commons license

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Russ through a Creative Commons license

Cowtown has new braggin’ rights: the U.S. Census Bureau says they were the fastest-growing big city in the nation between 2000-2013. Fort Worth population saw a 42.34 percent increase in that time. Dallas lagged far behind, coming in at 24th.

The 2010 Census count for Fort Worth put the number of residents at 741,206. Compare this to a population of 534,694 just a decade earlier.

Fort Worth is the 17th-largest city in the country, and the fifth-largest city in the state of Texas. Jump to read more!  (more…)

IMG_5845

Back in the early 1990s, developers, who were attracted to the Third Ward’s prime location at the southeast corner of downtown Houston, began tearing down the shotgun houses and displacing residents. It was then that Rick Lowe decided to act. Lowe, a contemporary artist, helped purchase and renovate 22 shotgun houses in Houston’s Third Ward for what was supposed to be a temporary, guerrilla-style project. Twenty years later, the structures still shine as a beacon in a neighborhood that has survived institutional racism, unemployment, crime, and neglect.

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Your Houston News:Zach Haverkamp

 

Developers and members of the Katy Chamber of Commerce turn dirt at the site of the Falls of Green Meadow at the Green Meadow Golf Course. (Photo: Zach Haverkamp/YourHoustonNews.com)

I stumbled across this interesting bit of news that a new development just west of Houston in Katy will put 440 new tract homes on top of a 242-acre golf course.

Sacrilege? Considering the dearth of available land in the tony suburb, perhaps not.

Dubbed the “Falls of Green Meadow” — an ersatz homage to Green Meadow Golf Course — this development will be the latest master-planned community after a bevy of master-planned communities in Katy. The project is headed by Tom Fitzpatrick of Friendswood Development Co.

From the news story:

Home builders Lennar Homes and Meritage Homes will be the homebuilders for the neighborhood, and Village Builders will also begin home construction in the summer of 2014.

Fitzpatrick estimates that the first model homes will be ready for viewing around the beginning of this August, and the community’s final phase of construction should be concluded by 2014 or 2015.

Due to the attractiveness of the Katy area, he predicts the new neighborhood’s homes should be quick sellers.

“In the real estate business, Katy ISD is kind of like gold, that’s where everybody wants to be. As a developer who’s been around since 1962 – this is our 51 year [anniversary] – we’re constantly looking for new opportunities, and some of these hopefully will be in the Katy area.”

Green Meadows Golf Course first opened in 1965, when the property was converted from pastureland to a 36-hole golf course. It closed in 2008.

I wonder if the homes will come with bermuda grass lawns mowed like fairways … What do you think? Are there any golf courses Dallas suburbs should sacrifice in the name of new housing?