Panelists Corey Clothier (Mobility e3), Rod Schebesch (Stantec), Kelley Coyner (Mobility e3) and Tom Yardley (Stantec)

 
We’re starting to see the impact that self-driving, autonomous vehicles will have on real estate development. It corresponds, interestingly ,with the same trends we saw in the recent WalkUp Wake Up Call for DFW: these will be two major real-estate-driven boons to our local economy that will change the landscape of our cities over the next few decades.
 
If you’ve been following the autonomous vehicle conversation, you know there are LOTS of different companies working on AV technology with a variety of different applications, from long-haul platooning to neighborhood delivery robots and everything in between. Experts from Mobility e3 & Stantec broke down the real estate impacts of AVs at a panel discussion hosted by Munsch Hardt law firm.
 
Bottom line, the AV technology with the greatest impact on local real estate development will be the AVs adept at navigating high pedestrian densities. That is, once the novelty wears off and people stop jumping out, playing with, and laying in front of them, making for a very long and jerky ride. There are a few companies honing this technology for high-density, mixed-use areas where originations and destinations are within relatively close proximity. Navya is one. It’s a French company that built one of the first driverless vehicles and has been operating a driverless shuttle minibus in Las Vegas. They just delivered a public bus fleet to Oslo, Norway.
 
All but one of the prototype vehicles in use in the U.S. now are small vehicles carrying 4-8 passengers.

(more…)

The Deep Ellum district in downtown Dallas is home to a vibrant arts and entertainment scene. (Photo: Steve Rainwater via Creative Commons)

The January release of “The WalkUP Wake-Up Call: Dallas-Fort Worth” happened quietly, though the implications for investment are huge.

This is the largest study done on D-FW on the most profitable type of real estate in the nation. Walkable Urban Places (WalkUPs) are seeing higher property values, lower vacancy, and commanding higher rental rates. Even through the last recession, WalkUPs saw lower vacancy and quicker leasing rates than places designed in a primarily drivable sub-urban orientation.

Walkable Urban Places are also proving to be the most economically, socially, environmentally, and even psychologically beneficial type of real estate.

The report, assembled by a team of researchers from George Washington University’s Center for Real Estate and Urban Analysis, identifies the places in DFW that exemplify this national trend. The study delves into the key indicators for successful Established WalkUPs and the Emerging WalkUP markets ripe for investment.

(more…)

unmarried couples property rights

It has been said that falling in love consists of uncorking the imagination and bottling the common sense, and for many couples, buying a house together is an experience driven by excitement and emotion, especially in a market as hot as ours.

When a married couple in Texas buys a house, community property laws offer each person equal rights, responsibilities, and protections for their investment. But with more than 12 million unmarried partners living together in the U.S., and almost 13 percent of those being same-sex couples unable to get married in some states, it makes sense that the number of unmarried couples buying a house together is increasing.

For the unprepared couple, buying a house may mean buying trouble, too, as they fail to plan for the possibility of the relationship failing.

Dallas Realtor Franceanna Campagna has observed that firsthand with her clients.

“The home buying process is such an exciting and usually happy one, particularly for the first-time homebuyers, that people don’t like to drag in the three Ds of real estate: death, disaster, or divorce,” Campagna said. “However, I always advise clients that financial planning and estate planning is the best way to protect themselves and their investments from future unknowns.”

(more…)

millennials real estate

Millennials use their smart phones extensively in the homebuying process and use apps for research. Photo: Garry Knight

For years, millennials have largely been thought of as renters, not buyers, but that has changed. Millennials, born from the early 1980s to the early 2000s, now represent the largest group of homebuyers in the U.S. at 32 percent, taking over from Generation X, according to the 2015 National Association of Realtors (NAR) Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends study, which evaluated the generational differences of recent home buyers and sellers.

This matters because the way millennials buy real estate is markedly more technology-driven than older generations, and Realtors need to adapt to their style if they want to keep up, says David Maez, Broker and Co-Owner at VIVO Realty.

“There’s lots of frustration among older agents in working with the millennials, but they’re not going away and agents need to learn to adapt,” Maez said. “It’s exciting because of all of the technology that’s available to us to make it easier to buy and sell properties. How people buy properties is going to continue to evolve on the technology level.”

millennials real estate

Take, for instance, the telephone. Many Realtors are used to speaking with clients, but millennials are much more into texting.

“With millennials, you have to communicate how they want to—they are big on texting and many don’t even answer their phones,” Maez said. “Some agents have had success using Facebook messaging because [their millennial clients] are not checking their email, either.”

The smartphone is key to a lot of the differences in millennial real estate patterns. More than half of them search for homes on their mobile phones and 26 percent of those buy a house they found that way, according to research from NAR.

(more…)

Millennials texting

Millennials use their smart phones extensively in the homebuying process and use apps for research. Photo: Garry Knight

For years, Millennials have largely been thought of as renters, not buyers, but that has changed. Millennials, born from the early 1980s to the early 2000s, now represent the largest group of homebuyers in the U.S. at 32 percent, taking over from Generation X, according to the 2015 National Association of Realtors (NAR) Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends study released today, which evaluated the generational differences of recent home buyers and sellers.

This matters because the way Millennials buy real estate is markedly more technology-driven than older generations, and Realtors need to adapt to their style if they want to keep up, says David Maez, Broker and Co-Owner at VIVO Realty.

“There’s lots of frustration among older agents in working with the Millennials, but they’re not going away and agents need to learn to adapt,” Maez said. “It’s exciting because of all of the technology that’s available to us to make it easier to buy and sell properties. How people buy properties is going to continue to evolve on the technology level.”

NAR graph

Take, for instance, the telephone. Many Realtors are used to speaking with clients, but Millennials are much more into texting.

“With Millennials, you have to communicate how they want to—they are big on texting and many don’t even answer their phones,” Maez said. “Some agents have had success using Facebook messaging because [their Millennial clients] are not checking their email, either.”

The smartphone is key to a lot of the differences in Millennial real estate patterns. More than half of them search for homes on their mobile phones and 26 percent of those buy a house they found that way, according to research from NAR.

(more…)

It has been said that falling in love consists of uncorking the imagination and bottling the common sense, and for many couples, buying a house together is an experience driven by excitement and emotion, especially in a market as hot as ours.

When a married couple in Texas buys a house, community property laws offer each person equal rights, responsibilities, and protections for their investment. But with more than 12 million unmarried partners living together in the U.S., and almost 13 percent of those being same-sex couples unable to get married in some states, it makes sense that the number of unmarried couples buying a house together is increasing.

For the unprepared couple, buying a house may mean buying trouble, too, as they fail to plan for the possibility of the relationship failing.

Dallas Realtor Franceanna Campagna has observed that firsthand with her clients.

“The home buying process is such an exciting and usually happy one, particularly for the first-time homebuyers, that people don’t like to drag in the three Ds of real estate: death, disaster, or divorce,” Campagna said. “However, I always advise clients that financial planning and estate planning is the best way to protect themselves and their investments from future unknowns.”

(more…)

Reno sign

We think we’ll stay in Reno. We’d never have dreamed as much — not if we could dial back to early 2012, anyway — but that’s the same story everyone has.

One of my fiancé’s colleagues has family members who promised, despairingly, that they’d “pray for” him when he relocated here. Naturally, he’s fine now.

“People come for an internship or something,” a local woman told me at a dinner party last week, as wine began to swirl up the part of my brain that’d prompt me to get her contact information, “and they wind up staying forever.”

We also know a couple in their 60s, a well-traveled pair with roots overseas, who quickly rented a place in Reno so they could stall long enough to find permanent property in California. That was decades ago. They never left.

Others, like my mother, hope to move here because her (sainted) future son-in-law and I arrived first, and because my stepdad would like all the classic cars and semi-rural properties. Mom is also 60, so she gets hot a lot — which makes her pretty livid during Texas summers. I get it. And I’m thrilled.

At any rate, we all hope to capitalize on Reno’s real estate market as it continues to recover.

Our neighborhood isn’t one for starter homes, though, and we haven’t mustered the guts to ask our landlady if she’ll sell.

Off Mayberry Drive, for instance — a nearby area with fewer historic buildings but better views and supposedly lower prices — I picked up an info sheet for a tiny, bare-bones 2/1, just for reference.

The house was nothing special, with boxy lines and no real landscaping or tree growth. Its asking price? $240,000.

Gulp.

That’s no real estate fortune, especially by Dallas standards, but the place was boring, and visually very similar to a mobile home. Ours is brick, nearly three times as big, full of mahogany trim and stained glass, and walking distance from trendy little bars and the Nevada Museum of Art.

This isn’t boasting. It suggests we may be renting well beyond our means, and that we should save for a down payment rather than get used to luxury we don’t own.  Even if it’s not a stunner, our future abode will be ours — ours to paint, ours to landscape, ours to mess with until it feels like a self-portrait.

Buying art and furniture to match our rental isn’t exactly a genius move, either, but I’ve been doing it. I’m too smitten to stop. And the fact that our neighbor’s ivy-covered house makes our living-room window into a postcard is no help.

TahoeMatt

 

Georgia Fisher’s fiancee, Matt, on the shores of Lake Tahoe, which is a matter of minutes from Reno.

“No offense,” my old friend Eric told me when he and his DFW-born wife, April, visited earlier this month, “but we didn’t think Reno’d be anywhere near this nice.” (“You see a lot of bare trees this time of year,” I’d warned them, “which’ll give you a clear view of all the titty bars. It’s general nekkidness.”)

Actually, it’s nothing like that. Not really.

We took our friends to nearby Lake Tahoe, of course, winding through heavy pines and early snow as our car made the roughly 2,000-foot climb.

April Thedford and Eric Reynolds

 

Georgia Fisher’s friends, April and Eric, were amazed by Reno and plan to move there, too.

“It’s like this is supposed to be home,” April murmured, her gaze fixed on an endless stretch of turquoise-clear water. “I just feel it.”

Another day, we zipped out to Virginia City — a touristy but convincing homage to the gold and silver rush that first brought prospectors to the area. The olde-tyme, hokey stores are one thing, but the mine carved into a mountain is real, as are the winding switchbacks that’ll lead you into town, and the striking old cemetery that seems to hang suspended over valleys as vast and quiet as the ocean.

Our guests liked Reno itself, though; the Middle Eastern food and hip secondhand joints on Virginia Street, for one, and the sweet people who’ll come out of the woodwork if you let them.

“That dude’s walking his cat on a leash,” Eric chortled as we made the very short drive from home to downtown.

“Yer cat’s beautiful,” I hollered from the car window, wondering if the longhaired old guy would take it as harassment. But his face broke into an ear-to-ear grin, and he waved hard as we took off.

By the time they left for Texas, our friends had decided in earnest to look for jobs here. April’s parents will be joining them, wherever they settle. This makes us so happy that we could scream loud enough to endanger the friendship itself, so we’re playing it cool.

They say Reno is how Austin used to be: friendly and funky and sort of small. We’ll take it.

“It’s The Housing, Stupid.” What I hope someone writes on a wall somewhere in the White House.

Now that there is a pay wall at the Dallas Morning News — I do subscribe — I will try and give you a weekly re-cap of real estate news and a look/see at what our local market is doing. Let’s call it Good News/Bad News. Because, as we all know, just because the sky is falling in Maryland, it may not be here in Dallas. Here’s a piece I wrote on AOL, eager to show the world that housing is not blanket-ly bad. Because if you read the headlines Monday, you may have wanted to go back in bed and pull up the covers for another five years. Yahoo News: “Home Sales Tumble”. The National Association of Realtors says home sales tumbled 9.6 % and are at a 9 year low, which I guess is better than a ten year low.

“The housing market is still very depressed and a major drag on the economy, especially household net worth,” said Chris Christopher, a senior economist at IHS Global Insight in Lexington, Massachusetts.

Economists had expected a decline of only 4 percent, but 9.6 was greater than even the most pessimistic forecast in a Reuters survey of 53 economists. And it is making Dr. Doom  Bob Shiller almost look like an oracle.

And what good will an improving labor market be if plunging house prices keep upsetting economic stabilization?

Someone sure needs to plaster this sign at the next convention, Democratic and Republican: “It’s The Housing, Stupid.”

Thanks to continued downward pressure from foreclosures, NAR said the median national home price dropped 5.2 percent in February from a year earlier to $156,100, the lowest since April 2002.

“If the price declines persist, even with the job market recovery, that could hamper recovery in the housing market,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR’s trade group’s chief economist.

And that ticks me off because average homes sales actually increased over the last six months in five major Texas metropolitan markets — Austin, San Antonio, Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth — according to the Federal Reserve. I don’t care how much it bites elsewhere, there are signs of life in the Lone Star state that keep getting beaten down by the national doom drum.

Good news: that rise in Texas home sales comes for the first time since the expiration of the home buyer tax credit. And more good news: looking at January numbers, Texas home inventory is down, says the Federal Reserve. Back in December, it would have taken eight months to sell off all the inventory in the state. In January, that time frame fell to 7.7 percent. Experts say 6 months is a normal market and it looks like Texas real estate is inching closer and closer to normal.

As for foreclosures, it almost seems like they’ve taken a vacation in some Texas markets. Foreclosure filings in Dallas/Fort Worth were down 16 percent for April — foreclosure filings have to be posted a month ahead, so April’s numbers are now out. For the first few months of 2011, Dallas foreclosure filings are 4 percent lower than this time, last year. And that is significant because last year we were still euphoric on the first time home buyer’s credit.¬† Foreclosure filings were also down 20 percent in Collin County, and an area hit hard by foreclosures.

But George Roddy isn’t calling it Miller Time just yet. What still plagues is the high number of troubled loans across the state, and fallout from the foreclosure crisis is going to take a long time to wade through. More jobs would be the biggest help of all.

“Until a significant number of workers are absorbed back into the workforce,” says Roddy, ” we won’t see foreclosure postings decline.”

Bad news: the number of upside-down homes is up. Even though foreclosure postings are down, we are seeing a sharp increase in the percentage of residential postings in an upside-down position. The percentage of foreclosure postings on upside-down homes jumped 29 percent. A year ago April, only 21 percent of Dallas area homes were upside down.

You know what that means: The original mortgage amount exceeds the current value of the property. So the homeowner can not sell the home for what is owed on the mortgage and often, neither can the bank left toting the note.

Good news (kind of): CoreLogic recently estimated that 12 percent of Dallas homeowners owe more than their mortgages are worth. That is about half the nationwide rates of negative equity, and can be attributed to Texas law which limits how much a homeowner can borrow against their home. Me, I was perfectly happy when we couldn’t borrow squat against our homes.

Finally, I wonder when this administration is going to make some positive noises about home ownership. Isn’t it interesting that one of the hottest markets in the country is D.C?