54 posts categorized "Texas Real Estate"

Friday, October 12, 2007

Builder Spotlight: Taylor Woodrow Homes

Our builder spotlight focuses on Taylor Woodrow, in business for over 85 years constructing upscale "lifestyle communities". A lifestyle community will integrate shopping, schools and recreation. Dee likes Taylor Woodrow because they're one of the best high-end home builders in Texas, but they also have a some affordable communities.

Luxuryhome Taylor Woodrow builds in Austin and Houston, Texas. They also have communities in California, Arizona, Florida, Spain, and Ontario, Canada.

Taylor Woodrow prices range from the affordable MarBella in the Galveston Bay area, where just $160,000 will buy you a single family home in a community that has its own recreation center with pool and water park, nature preserve, miles of hiking and bike trails, and acres of lakes.

The Avalon at Seven Meadows Estates is just to the west of Houston. Homes start from the $700,000s. Most have prime lake frontage or a view of the Meadowbrook Farms Golf Club with its 18-hole championship course designed by Greg Norman.

I think this beats paying $700,000+ for a fixer-upper in other markets we've all heard about. Visit the Taylor Woodrow site.

Read about Keller Williams Realty's new Luxury Homes Division and Top 10 Luxury Home Markets to Watch.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Spotlight Interview: When Will Texas Real Estate Bounce Back?

Ok, so the mortgage market is rough. Summer 2007 was a pretty odd time in American history. Over 120 banks went out of business and the FDIC shut down Netbank for their failed lending practices. My father had many accounts at Netbank, so he's living the nightmare right now. (More on that later).

Bandaid I interviewed Gray Buffington, a Texas Mortgage Broker that I trust. He's been in the business since 1986 and has followed the market through boom and bust cycles. I asked Gray to tell me the truth on the mortgage market and whether Texas will make it out alive in 2008.


Give me some background on how you got started in real estate.

It’s been a venture of 20 years so allow me to make this as succinct as possible! While I was an undergraduate in college I had an opportunity to do an internship with a local bank in Austin. I fell in love with Austin and, upon graduating in 1986, immediately began working for a local Mortgage Company. I formed Buffington Mortgage in 2002 and we’ve quickly risen to become one of Austin’s top lenders, in part due to our focus on pushing the envelope in customer service.

I think Alana (Chandler) is one of the coolest women I’ve ever met. How did you meet her and what’s her role?

Alana had done all commercial art and ad copy for a small Austin company and a few years later they were in stores around the world. Alana’s role as the Marketing Director for Buffington Mortgage is to insure that our message of outstanding service and value is communicated to all of our clients and referral partners.

Here’s the big question. Tell me more about the Texas Mortgage Market. Are things out of control?

Continue reading "Spotlight Interview: When Will Texas Real Estate Bounce Back?" »

Friday, October 05, 2007

The Top 6 Population Trends that Will Affect Texas Real Estate by Year 2030

Remember when you were young and the future seemed so far away? When I growing up in San Antonio circa the late 1980s, I imagined that the Year 2000 would feel foreign.

Jetsons_2 I thought we'd still have rush-hour traffic, but our flying cars would improve it. We'd colonize Mars after our natural resources were depleted. We'd talk to people in other worlds via video phones and tiny electronic devices.

25 years or so later, my childhood predictions still haven't fully materialized. Now futurists are thinking about the years 2030. What are the population trends? Where will people live in the year 2030?


According to a Realty Times article published this year....

  • By 2010 over 40 percent of all households will be comprised of an age group over 55 years.
  • The Spanish speaking population will increase from 31.4 million in 2000 to nearly 65.6 million in 2030.
  • Total US population is estimated at 400 million in 2030.
  • The traditional household (married couple with children) which comprised 90 percent of the households in 1950 will comprise only 65 percent of the households in 2030.
  • 29 percent of the US households will be living alone in 2030.
  • From 2000 to 2030, the U.S. population will grow by 82 million, 72 million of this growth will occur in the South and the West (states in the U.S.).

Read the full story and see other trends: Realty Times - Upcoming Trends. According to the writer, "Much of the projected future growth will be in Texas, California, Florida, Virginia, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Georgia and North Carolina".

Read about the Top 10 U.S Cities Ready for a Boom in 2008.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Austin Agents Rally..."Buy Here!"

Sold The real estate industry is making a backlash against the national news media for "overblown" hype around the supposed "real estate bust" for 2007. Texas REALTORS® have especially been trying to make it clear that, while the national market has cooled, Texas has always been considered one of the best places to buy.

Austin, Dallas, and Houston are particularly great real estate markets and were reported among the Top 10 U.S cities to boom in 2008. Here's some of the recent acclaims for Austin:

  • Ranked by Business Week as having the most affordable housing of any metro area in the nation.
  • In the top 10 markets nationally for job growth and actually has the healthiest job market in the last 6 years.
  • Our foreclosure rate has fallen since 2006.
  • Is expected to double in population in the next 20 years.
  • Has never seen the dramatic rise in prices that has troubled many markets around the country.
  • Has none of the fundamental problems in the real estate market, such as extreme overbuilding of new communities.

You may also want to read about What's happening in Downtown Austin. Where should you put your money? See top bets for a real estate boom in 2008.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Wimberley and Texas Hill Country Popular Relocation Destinations

I was reading a great New York Times article about Wimberley, Texas. Wimberley is no longer being overlooked as a beautiful and relaxing relocation destination. Even Texans from Austin, Houston and San Antonio are flocking to the Texas Hill Country.


Wimberly First, Wimberley is part of the scenic Texas Hill Country in Hays County, just south of Austin.  Second, the neighbors. People are friendly in Texas, especially most small towns.

Another popular reason to relocate to the Texas Hill Country? LAND! Where else can you buy 25-50 acres of land with rolling hilltops and mature trees for a reasonable price? If you're tired of the city and want to surround yourself with nature, this is the place. In fact, it's not uncommon to to buy land or acreage that includes stock ponds, a well, or wet creek.


Other cities in Hays County, such as Buda and Dripping Springs have boomed in recent years and should continue. If you're looking closer to the City of San Marcos, land may be a little more expensive since it's near Texas State University, which is where I graduated. From my understanding, the San Marcos rental market is still going strong

SEARCH for Hays County homes and land now.

Read all about the still hot Hays County.
Read the story: A Hill Country Town Raises Its Profile - New York Times.


Thursday, September 13, 2007

Texas Toll Road Talks Stir Controversy

Railcar_final2_2 The latest Texas Toll Road controversy came into play this week in Austin. Capital Area Metro Planning Organization (CAMPO) held a last-minute meeting to discuss their Transportation Improvement Plan. 

In my opinion, major opposition is not with commuter rail lines and other modes of transportation that should help the growing cities along the IH35 corridor (i.e San Antonio, Austin,  Houston and Dallas)  as part of the All Systems Go Plan.


For background, the original purpose of toll roads was to build new roads that were paid through bonds. Once bonds were repaid using the toll money, these new roads were to be released to the community. That said, here are the complaints:

  • CAMPO and other state entities are moving forward with tolling existing roads against citizen opposition that ask for different solutions. They have been voting against current plans, but plans have not changed.
  • Austin residents are concerned that previous gas tax funds, which were supposed to pay for upkeep and construction of roads, were instead used for pet projects. Now, CAMPO is asking for more funds through the tolls.
  • Austin citizens realize that toll roads in Houston were promised to be toll-free once bonds were paid, but are still charged since toll roads are considered cash cows by transportation authorities.

Read more on KVUE. Also read the Daily Texan's Support of CAMPO's Plans: Think outside the car - Opinion.

Capital Metrorail photo provided by Capmetro.org.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Dallas Real Estate Company Buys Acreage on Gulf Coast

Bolivar The Texas Gulf Coast has been growing despite setbacks the past few years. Bolivar Island is seeing growth that is spilling over from those interested in Galveston Island.

Galveston has a been a hot destination for baby boomers and real estate investors for the past few years since it's one of the most affordable beach getaways in the nation.'

According to the investor who purchased the acreage know as Cade Ranch, "I think Bolivar will continue to be attractive to Beaumont, Port Arthur and towns east of Houston".

Picture provided by KFDM news. Read more: Dallas Real Estate Company Buys Near 3,000 Acres Near High Island

Monday, August 20, 2007

Texas not too "risky" according to MSN

Risky MSN released some predictions from PMI Mortgage Insurance Company on risk factors in the Top 50 top U.S real estate markets. Like most forecasts, these should not be taken as gospel.

PMI Mortgage Insurance Co.'s new U.S. Market Risk Index tries to assess the future direction of markets across the U.S. by looking at recent price volatility, affordability... and employment, among other factors.

On average, there's a 34.6% chance that home prices will drop in the nation's top 50 markets in the next couple years, with many of the riskiest markets falling in areas that saw steep run-ups in prices in recent years, followed by decreased affordability and drops in the rate of appreciation.

The good news is that Texas cities like Austin, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio were not considered "risky" by comparison with Dallas fairing the worst. My opinion is that any market, in any area can be risky if the buyer makes risky decisions.

See them now! Price risk for the top 50 U.S. markets


Monday, July 30, 2007

Track Texas Markets Online for FREE

Checklist_2I was browsing through market updates at the Texas A&M Real Estate Research Center and saw their links to news from the Texas Real Estate Business. The magazine requires registration to view articles, but those of you interested in residential or commercial real estate can access market updates for FREE.

Texas is expected to continue growing at a feverish pace during next few decades, especially along the Dallas to San Antonio corridor on Interstate Highway 35. This corridor is the main transportation artery in our state for Texas' largest cities including Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, Austin and San Antonio.

Highway_2Large commercial developers and investors, including foreign investors, have continued to purchase huge tracts of land along the corridor and in these cities to provide housing and jobs for the population boom.

Buyers, sellers and investors should be aware of factors that influence the housing market, such as where jobs are leaving or going, environmental issues, transportation, development on the horizon, etc. Here are some top FREE resources for Texas real estate market updates that can keep you ahead of a housing boom OR bust:

  • Read the Texas Realty Blog, of course! We track the latest news, developments and market updates to comment on how they affect surrounding markets.
  • Texas A&M Real Estate Research Center. Provides census data, stats and metro-area overviews.
  • Texas Real Estate Business Magazine. Another source for market commentary. 
  • Planetizen-TX. Good resource for infrastructure news and how it affects each city.

In case you missed it, read more about the 4000 mile, $180 Billion Trans-Texas Corridor. There's an opposition site at Texas Toll Party's website or at the TransTexas Blog.

Also read why we'd previously recommended you buy land in Texas.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Unseasonal Rains Impact Development, Economy

This has not been the typical Texas Summer. You may have heard the colloquialism, "Texas heat", which is unlike the dry heat in Arizona and New Mexico.


A phenomena in Texas that occurs when gamma radiation from the sun lunges from limestone buildings and concrete pavements, reaching 100-degrees in temperature before fusing with high humidity to stick to your body without letting go.

...so it's not necessarily gamma radiation, but it sure feels like it since 'gamma' sounds threatening.

Hot August and July temperatures are frequently in the 100s, but we've had historically low-highs the past few months, with some days only reaching the 80s. The unseasonable rains and flooding may severely impact the Texas economy.

There's been countless construction delays for new schools, residential communities and commercial ventures. Summer-driven businesses such as tour companies, hotels, bed-and-breakfast inns, water or outdoor sport-related services, etc. are having their worst season in decades.

Of course, it will take more than rain to take down the Texas economy, but we're waiting to see how badly the rainy season has impacted particular cities.

Link: Rain brings more flooding in Texas.

Read more about the July floods, worst in 50 years.


Monday, July 23, 2007

Houston Market Stats Released, June Sales Declined

Har_mls_3 If you weren't aware, the Houston Board of REALTORS has a great website where they release their MLS housing statistics each month via a press release. Total sales declined partially due to the softened sub-prime lending market.

The good news is that Houston is still one of the best cities in Texas to buy a home or investment property.


The average and media home sales prices in Houston are still on the rise.The Houston housing and job markets are still very robust and stable. Click the chart for Houston stats.

Houston Real Estate Milestones for June 2007 (Per HAR)

  • Highest ever average single-family home sales  price
  • Highest ever number of single-family homes  listed for sale
  • Second highest number of homes ever sold in June
  • Highest median sales price in Houston history
  • Highest median townhouse/condo sales price for the month of June and fourth highest ever
  • Highest average townhouse/condo sales price for  the month of June and fifth highest ever

See June 2007 housing statistics as well as archives on for Houston on HAR's website: Houston Real Estate Market Information.

Did you know that Houston has one of the highest foreclosure rates in Texas and the U.S? Find out why!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

U.S. Census: Which Texas Cities Among Fastest Growing in Nation?

Chart1 According to the Houston Business Journal, Texas' five major cities — Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, Austin and Fort Worth — were among the top ten in the nation for population growth from 2005 to 2006, according to a U.S. Census Bureau report released earlier this week.

Many of America's fastest-growing cities appear to be suburbs. Three Dallas-area cities, McKinney (No. 2), Grand Prairie (No. 6) and Denton (No. 9), were in the top ten in percentage population gained. Fort Worth was No. 11 on that list.

The Business Journal reported that six Texas cities cracked the top 25 for total population:

  • Houston (No. 4)
  • San Antonio (No. 7)
  • Dallas (No. 9)
  • Austin (No. 16)
  • Fort Worth (No. 18)
  • El Paso (No. 21)

We'd recently discussed the high foreclosure rate in Texas and I'm often asked when the "bubble" will burst. My response is that Texas still has even more growth slated for upcoming years. Population growth is expected because of the continued increases in job growth, our increasing immigrant population, baby boomer relocations and faster-than-average birth rates.

Monday, July 16, 2007

If Texas Real Estate is HOT, Why the High Foreclosures?

Auction_3Here's a good question. If the Texas real estate market is so hot, why are our best cities (Austin, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio) experiencing the highest foreclosures in the nation?

Great question! In recent years, Texas home sales outpaced our counterparts along with nice appreciation in our largest cities. My hypothesis is that foreclosures are the downside of a frenzied real estate market.


  1. Home seller refinances. In 2003-2004, mortgage rates were at historic lows. Many home owners refinanced to make improvements or purchase consumer goods. This is a set up for a foreclosure because the owner has removed their equity, perhaps overimproved the property and now have higher property taxes and mortgage payments.
  2. Adjustable rate and zero down loans. Texas was a buyer's market at the same time rates were historically low.  Zero down loans or adjustable rate mortgages were the mortgage product of choice. Most of those adjustable loans were 3-5 year, so the rates have been increasing every 6 months. A refinance in Texas requires at least 80% loan to value ratio on homestead properties and 90% on investments. For buyers with no equity, but an increasing payment, a foreclosure is one of the few options.
  3. Risky investor loans. Investors have been buying in Austin, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio in droves. Most were putting less than 10% down and had high interest rates, but little or no cashflow. In Austin and Dallas, it was common to buy negative cashflow and negative equity properties on speculation. Now, San Antonio and Houston are especially seeing a glut of low-end investment properties, so days on market has increased.

The bottom line is that no market is ever going to be completely predictable. Texas is unique in many aspects, but home buying decisions should always be based on the property's current value.

Link: San Antonio foreclosure and the Texas A&M research on the issue.

Check out the interesting post about Affordable, Luxury and Modern Home market in Texas.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Memorial Weekend: Places to Visit in Texas

Memorial Day weekend is a wonderful time to remember those who have served America. In our time of war, I find it ironic that the gas industry helps us celebrate by hiking gas prices to the highest they've been in American history. I understand that it's customary for gas companies to raise rates during the "travel season" in the U.S, but reporters are speculating we will approach the $4 mark by end of Summer.

You can have much more fun with your $4 in Texas this weekend or others!

  • Austin. If you're under 18, you can visit the Bob Bullock Museum for only $3. It's only a few dollars more for the rest of us, but seniors have a discount.
  • Southeast Austin. Visit McKinney Falls State Park, which is only $4 per day.
  • San Antonio. Park near the River Center Mall and take a stroll down the San Antonio Riverwalk.
  • Corpus Christi. Children and Seniors can visit the very beautiful South Texas Botanical Gardens for less than $4. Adults pay only $5.
  • Houston. Buffalo Bayou, a very cool master-planned community in Houston, has boat cruises the 2nd Saturday of every month for only $3 for children under 12 years-old. Adults pay $5.

Captla10303152352rising_gas_prices_I've reached the pain threshold of paying at the pump, so am looking into buying a motorcycle or moped at Woods Fun Center here in Austin or on Craigslist.

If you like the outdoors, try buying a Texas Parks Pass.

Read more: Gas prices approach record high.

What are some other great things we can do in Texas this weekend instead of spending our $4 on a gallon of gas?

Monday, May 21, 2007

Real Estate Mortgage Fraud and Investor Show Scams Disappoint Texans

As an investor, it's tough hearing about unscrupulous investors. There are a few recent cases that are notable. A story that's been covered extensively on REIClub.com is the Flip This House case.

FlipthishouseNot to be confused with Flip That House, Flip This House follows one or two real estate flippers each season. The original show was started by Richard Davis of Trademark Properties, who has filed a lawsuit against A&E.

The recent season of Flip This House features investors from Atlanta and San Antonio. Residents in the Atlanta Area quickly noted that Sam Leccima had lost his real estate license and accused him scamming buyers. Both Leccima and the Montelegos of San Antonio have been accused of allegedly lying about their volume of transactions as well as how quickly properties sell. In fact, some properties still haven't sold, but the show presented them as if they had.

In other bad news, it was reported that 9 Texans were indicted in a mortgage fraud scheme just last week. Mortgage fraud is serious because it affects unsuspecting buyers and/or sellers as well as lending institutions. You can read more about the Texas mortgage fraud case at the Mortgage Fraud Blog.

Read also onHoustonRealNews.com - Fox News Breaks "Flip This House" Case.

Learn more about real estate investing in Texas.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Treat Yourself to Texas-sized Amusement

I just realized today that we all need to relax. Wars, gas prices, tragedies at schools and real estate busts; it's all too much for a country to handle. Not to make light of these serious situations, but each day can be more intense unless we make a conscious effort to enjoy our lives.

Besides eating bar-b-que or fried stuff and having the best real estate market in the country, Texas has many fun attractions to entertain your entire family (or business partners). A good site to visit is AllAcrossTexas.com, which lists theme parks, attractions, zoos, wineries, water parks, etc.

Here's just a few links to help you relax in Texas:

The earlier you plan, the better. The Texas heatwave will be pretty intense in July and August.

Link: Texas Amusement Parks, Water Parks and Zoos....Texas Travel.

Read more about the Texas economy.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Weekend Event Update: Cinco de Mayo in Texas

Texas has deep roots and a connection (besides our border) with Mexico. We were once called Tejas until the Battle of the Alamo in San Antonio. I grew up in San Antonio, so am familiar with celebrating Mexican Independence Day on May 5th of each year.

Here's a list of just a few Cinco de Mayo celebrations across Texas this weekend.

  • AUSTIN Cinco de Mayo at Central Market. Former City Council Member Raul Alvarez hosts today's celebration. Sat., May 5, 4-10pm. Central Market North, 4001 N. Lamar, 206-1000. Free.
  • AUSTIN. Annual Cinco de Mayo Music Festival at Fiesta Gardens. May 3rd-6th.
  • EL PASO. May 5 -- This “Taste of the Border” festival featuring mariachis, margaritas, tequila and a mole extravaganza kicks off at 3:00 and goes into the wee hours of the night.
  • HOUSTON has several events this weekend, including Cinco de Drinko and a parade.
  • SAN ANTONIO. May 4-6--San Antonio draws about 30,000 to its festivities with food booths at its historic Market Square, street dancing, handicrafts, concerts and other commemorations.

See the Cinco de May celebrations in your state and remember...margaritas taste better outside.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

HousingPredictor.com Announces 10 Hottest Real Estate Markets

RISMedia published a story about HousingPredictor.com's hottest real estate markets. Several Texas cities made the list.

"McAllen, Texas was selected as the runner-up to Albuquerque to place second among the top 10 markets forecast for the highest appreciation throughout the remainder of the year.

Four other Texas markets made the list, reflecting a state real estate market in the Lone Star state that is appreciating at levels not seen in many years. Housing Predictor forecast the current boom in Texas in early 2006."

Austin and Houston were on the list, which I definitely concur. My favorites outside of Texas was Biloxi, Miss. and Albuquerque, NM. I really like New Mexico, so will try to make an excuse to visit for "business purposes" as soon as I can.

Link: Housing Predictor.com Announces 10 Hottest Buyers Real Estate Markets

Friday, April 13, 2007

Texas Real Estate Economist Proclaims to U.S, "We're better than you!"

I find myself defending Texas real estate on a weekly basis from people who feel threatened by the sagging national real estate market. I have to remind them that Texas job growth, population increases, relocations, etc. are driving a strong economy here. If I were to invest anywhere in the U.S, it would be Texas.

Now, I have more ammo for these discussions. The Chief Economist at the Texas A&M Research Center said Texas is bucking trends due to our affordability and net population growth. Austin only had about 3.2 months of inventory on the market, so we're even ahead of larger Texas cities like Houston, Dallas and San Antonio.

While other states like California, Arizona and Florida are feeling the temporary pain of a market correction, our Texas real estate market is one of the strongest in the nation.

Link: Economist: National real estate attention focused on Texas

San Antonio Real Estate Hot.

Read about the Texas Buyer Market Apocalypse...

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

CAMPO Finds Sneaky Way to Toll Texans

I applaud the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO). They have been struggling for the past few years to toll existing roads in Texas, but were forced into a two-year moratorium on proposing new bills due to the public outcry. Texans don't like being forced to pay extra for roads that have already been paid for, but CAMPO insisted.

Now, the creative minds at CAMPO are at it again and may have found a nifty way around the two-year moratorium on tolling. Their solution is quite genius...

Instead of snatching our current roadway and calling it a "toll road", make the lanes more narrow and use the term "managed lane" .

The local business magazines are simply reporting that CAMPO is adding two new lanes to Mopac Expressway. So how do you create a new lane out of existing highway so you can toll it? According to CAMPO, it's quite simple:

  • Strip 3-4 feet or so from each side of the freeway by making lanes more narrow. If you weren't already feeling cramped, you will now.
  • Remove the shoulder of the road so there'd then be no way to get a disabled vehicle out of the way.

So how does CAMPO expect to put their plan in place? Next steps are supposedly citizen communication and an environmental assessment. Judging from the past, any complaints or suggestions to CAMPO will fall on deaf ears until our voices are so loud that they are forced to listen. In sticking with old tactics, the public hearings are this week. The first public hearing is TONIGHT and second is Thursday.

Read more: Texas Legislature Revolts Against Toll Roads. Visit the Texas Toll Party.

MoPac likely to get two more lanes - Austin Business Journal

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Where will you be during the Texas real estate bust? (Part 2)

Yesterday, I wrote part 1 of my article on the Texas real estate bust that was based on hearing war stories from real estate agents and mortgage brokers who were in the business in the 1980s.

So with the 1980s not being very far away, have we learned anything?

  • Reports from the Austin Board of REALTORS shows that about 1 in every 3 or 4 homes are a secondary purchases (non owner-occupied). Most local agents can tell you that about 20-40% of their business been out-of-town buyers and investors.  
  • Homes are being built at a ratio of more than 1:1(one home for every 1 job). See our previous forecast.
  • Properties in some areas are being purchased for greater than asking price because "they will appreciate". No thought is given to debt burden, cash flow, or profitability. Previous article.

Although interest rates are still at historic lows, one thing is true. Real estate goes through a constant cycle of inflation and recession. Houston and San Antonio are flatter markets while Austin and Dallas have higher peaks and lows.


  1. If 20-30% of buyers in Texas are from other states, what happens when the economies in those states worsen OR get better? The answer: there will be a flood of homes on the market because those owners will sell.
  2. If home builders keep getting ahead of themselves an overbuild, what happens? The answer:both new and resale homes will sit on the market due to greater availability of inventory.

Like the Texas A&M Research Center, I do not believe Texas will experience a colossal bust like other states this year because our economy is more robust. We have job growth combined with population growth. The problem is that buyers in high-demand cities like Austin and Dallas may get ahead of themselves, leaving us to wonder where we will be when the Texas real estate market sees a correction.

Read more about the Buyer Market Apocalypse.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Where will you be during the Texas real estate bust? (Part 1)

Each generation has a big event that we remember with such passion that people know where they were when it happened. I'd seen a recounting on the History Channel in which U.S. Citizens described where they were when John F. Kennedy Jr. or Martin Luther King was shot. It has been said that Generation X and older will remember where they were on September 11th.

In residential real estate, we hear of Texas during the 1980's. Interest rates were in the 20s, so homes with 24% interest rates were common. There was no use of Adjustable Rate Mortgages (ARMs) or zero-down loans. Homes were selling like hotcakes. The Multiple Listing System(MLS) did not exist, so you had to visit an agent who would look up listings in a big, thick book.

Then, President Ronald Regan recalled a tax incentive that was causing investors to buy properties at an alarming rate just so they can deduct the loss as a write off. The Savings and Loan Crisis sealed our fates.


Please come back to read the continuation of this story, (Part 2 of 2).

Monday, April 02, 2007

Controversial Bill Forces Texans to Disclose Sales Price

The new Senate Bill 270 is currently being discussed in legislature. The bill would require Texans to disclose the sales price of a home before the deed can be recorded. This presents a big controversy since Texas is currently a non-disclosure state, which means the sales price of a home is kept out of public record.


AGAINST: From Houston Real News, Investors

The past President of the Texas Real Estate Investors Association is opposed to Texas Sales Price Disclosure.
According to Ms. Crowe-League:

    Senate Bill 270 by Wentworth would prohibit the recording of an instrument that conveys real property under a contract of sale unless the instrument contains the sales price of the property...We need to do something...I just feel that it should be your business to know what you paid, and I think people will use it against you if they know what you paid.

Continue reading "Controversial Bill Forces Texans to Disclose Sales Price" »

Thursday, March 15, 2007

San Antonio Officials Want Builders to Pay for Firestations

City officials in San Antonio may soon feel the wrath of developers and builders. The San Antonio Express News reported that their city officials "strongly support a bill filed in the Texas Legislature that would force real estate developers to pay impact fees for a broad range of city services, including new fire stations. They said House Bill 1771, filed last month by Rep. Mike Villarreal, D-San Antonio, would help raise funds to improve sluggish response times to structure fires on the outskirts of the city".

Their Mayor, Phil Hardberger, understands the power of developers and builders in Texas. He stated that the bill would face an uphill battled because builders won't take it lying down.

This is a tough one because Texas is one of few states that don't allow cities to levy fees for police and fire stations. It's not that San Antonio hates developers; they just want the ability to build new public safety facilities by raising money the way other states do.

It's an interesting option, but I also see it being shot down before it's really given a chance to be understood. Read more on House Bill 1771.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Texas Buyer's Market Apocalypse is Upon Us

I've been saying it since last year. Texas is hot, hot, hot despite a downward trend in other states. This is great news for sellers, but buyers are getting tired of the competition. Multiple offers, increased prices, and higher property taxes are all signs of an appreciating and competitive market.

Property owners in major Texas cities like Austin, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio are seeing the signs that the buyer market apocalypse is upon us. You know you're in a HOT seller's market when...

  • Inventory shrinks. Homes start selling faster and the average days on market decreases.
  • Multiple offer mayhem ensues. You get the feeling that you're competing to buy a house due to other offers. Brawling or begging may take place.
  • Real estate ads and advertising decrease since homes sell so quickly.
  • FBSO signs are more plentiful as unrepresented sellers strike out on their own.
  • Then...the final sign that you're in a seller's market is when condominium conversions increase at a feverish pace. 

Continue reading "Texas Buyer's Market Apocalypse is Upon Us" »

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Keller Williams Co-founder Funds New Real Estate Research Center in Texas

Gary Keller, co-founder  and chairman of Keller Williams Realty, recently gifted $5 Million to Baylor University to start a real estate research center that will compliment the one at Texas A&M (TAMU).  I'm pretty excited about this because most of the real estate research that we receive that are relevant to agents is from the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR).

I am a member of NAR and think their findings are invaluable, but I am often skeptical of any research that is funded by a group that has interests in the outcome. I don't think NAR will stack statistics in REALTORS' favor, but the Texas A&M Research Center is often seen as one of the most reliable sources of unbiased news, data, and statistics. The main difference between the two research centers in Texas is that the Keller Center will focus heavily on information that residential real estate agents, buyers, and sellers can use.

Read the full story: Baylor University Keller Research Center.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Bankrate's 2007 Real Estate Guide Says We're Not Doomed Yet

Rismedia.com reported that Bankrate, Inc. released its 2007 Real Estate Guide after extensively interviewing analysts. They said,"Stable interest rates, rising consumer confidence and bargain prices make for an overall optimistic outlook for 2007". 

The Bankrate guide is one of the coolest you'll see on the topic of economic outlooks for real estate markets because it's highly interactive and comprehensive. The company provided a forecast of the 2007 housing market by region as well as in the 30 top metro areas. Surprisingly, Texas doesn't have any of the top gainers, but Florida had two on the list.

In the regional report, my favorites were Atlanta and El Paso because of their affordability and continued growth. Other Texas cities weren't included in the analysis, so we'll have to keep our barbecue and cowboy hats to ourselves until they recognize us next time.

Read Bankrate.com's 2007 Real Estate Guide to see how various markets are fairing. Is your favorite city "stormy", "foggy", "partly cloudy", or "sunny"?

Monday, February 26, 2007

TXU Buyers Concede to Environmentalist Pressure

You don't want to mess around in Texas when it comes to messing with our environment. I have a lot of friends who are concerned with the energy crisis, so receive articles every few weeks with on new data green energy, cleaner burning coal, wind power, and other alternatives to coal as a fuel source.

CNN reported that the investment buyers of Dallas-based TXU utility company conceded to pressures from environmental groups by scrapping plans for 8 coal-fired plants. According to the CNN article, As part of the deal, the private equity owners agreed to abandon plans for eight of 11 controversial coal-fired power plants that TXU previously had aggressively sought, winning support for the buyout from two major environmental groups - Environmental Defense and the National Resources Defense Council.

"The buyout and turnaround of TXU's position on global warming is an earthquake that happened in Texas, but shock waves are going to be felt from Wall Street to Washington," Dave Hawkins, director of the Natural Resource Defense Council's Climate Center, said on a conference call Monday afternoon. In addition to revising its coal plant strategy, TXU Corp. has pledged to support programs that regulate carbon emissions.

It should be noted that, although TXU is based in Texas, the 11 proposed coal-powered plants were not necessarily in this region and groups from across the nation came together to protest. My eco-smart friend Scott said, "In my opinion no more than 20% of Texas state electrical needs should be addressed by coal, 30% by natural gas, 20% by Wind, with biomass and other technologies making up the remainder."

I'll have to do more research on the issue since it is definitely a hot button for many. Read more about this issue online at: CNN Money.

Friday, February 02, 2007

California Real Estate Buyers in Trouble, so They're Coming to Texas

The California real estate market has taken a beating lately. Realtor Magazine reported on the 10 Markets at Highest Risk for Declining Prices.

According to the article, PMI Mortgage Insurance Co. reports that its Market Risk Index scores have increased for 34 of the nation’s 50 largest metropolitan statistical areas. The scores measure the risk that home prices will decline in the next two years. Nineteen MSAs face a greater than 50 percent chance that home prices will fall, up from 18 last quarter.

The risk of price declines continue to be concentrated in California and along the Eastern Seaboard. In fact, eight of the riskiest markets are located in California, eight are in the Northeast, and two are in Florida.

The 10 markets with the highest risk of declining prices are:

1. Sacramento-Arden-Arcade-Roseville, Calif.
2. San Diego-Carlsbad- San Marcos, Calif.
3. Oakland-Fremont-San Marcos, Calif.
4. Santa Ana-Anaheim-Irvine, Calif.
5. Nassau-Suffolk, N.Y.
6. Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, Calif.
7. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, Calif.
8. Boston-Quincy, Mass.
9. Providence-New Bedford-Fall River, R.I.-Mass.
10. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif

We've been reporting on a number of trends, one of which is that Texas cities such as Houston, Austin, Dallas, and San Antonio have been raking in the investors from California and other declining markets.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Best Places to Buy in Texas

Ok, I have now heard enough market forecasts to feel comfortable with this quick post on the top areas to invest or buy real estate in Texas.

Here is the order in which I would buy properties:

  1. Austin. It's Austin. I love it here and we're the best city in Texas. Sure, I may be biased. We have lake areas, hill country, golfing, etc. but we're not snooty about it.
  2. Houston. I like the Woodlands & Magnolia area as well as Katy, TX.
  3. Temple/Killeen. The numbers actually WORK out there.
  4. Edinburg. I wrote a blog about it, so you have to read it.
  5. McAllen-Mission. Close to Edinburg.
  6. San Antonio. I heard it's still good there. They also have good tacos.
  7. Corpus Christi. Affordable beach-front property anyone?
  8. El Paso. Affordable desert property anyone? No? Well the area is still growing.
  9. Dallas. Austin's high-rise cousin (in terms of being an appreciation market, of course.)
  10. Fort Worth. Growing and yet affordable.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Austin Toll Party Trying To Stop Tolling of Existing Roads

If you want to make Austin residents angry, try tolling our existing roads. For reasons that the Texas government cannot explain, they have been trying to roll out a toll road plan that allows existing, paid-for roads to be tolled. The amount that they'd be tolling is not insignificant, as Austin residents are paying some of the highest toll prices in the nation on the new toll roads that have recently opened.

The phase two project calls for tolls on roads already built, including parts of Highways 71, 290, 183 and 360. The Austin Toll Party is the anti-toll road political action group that was successful in stopping the original vote on this phase plan dead in its tracks. The phase two toll road project now comes up for another vote early this month.

Read more about the issue on the Texas Toll Party website.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Corpus Christie Beach Ban Voted Down

From Texas A&M Recon...

CORPUS CHRISTI (Corpus Christi Caller-Times) – Voters on Tuesday turned down, by a 55 percent to 45 percent vote, a vehicle ban on the 7,200 feet of beach stretching from the Packery Channel south jetty to the northern boundary of Padre Balli Park.

Voters also overwhelmingly approved a measure to allow residents to vote on all future beach vehicle-ban proposals. If the city wants to ban vehicles on any stretch of beach, an election would be automatic.

Developers insisted on the ban as a condition for their proposed $1.5 billion resort community. Mayor Henry Garrett said he hopes to negotiate a compromise with development company Intrawest, although he had not talked with developers Wednesday. The city would put all options on the table, Garrett said, including using wooden posts to separate pedestrians and vehicles, a choice the developers previously rejected but that is used on developed areas of nearby Mustang Island.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Is Austin Real Estate Too Hot?

I was thinking today about the Austin real estate market. While other bubbles are bursting, Texas real estate has hit a high-note. Austin and Round Rock are almost always listed as great places to live, which is why we have a huge influx of boomer retirees, investors, and relocating families.

  • Austin and Dallas have spawned a new rise in mixed-use retail projects, high-rise condos, and new residential communities. Both cities are getting more metropolitan as new commercial projects and residential subdivisions borrow their architectural details from California and New York. The transit corridor between Dallas and Austin seems to grow together.
  • Houston and San Antonio have become meccas to rental property investors. The sprawl of these two big cities continues. Smaller outer cities such as Katy (Houston), Canyon Lake, and New Braunfelds are growing.
  • Corpus Christi and coastal areas have rebounded after the hurricanes.

Real estate professionals have recognized that our market is doing great because of our job growth, relatively low cost compared to the other coasts, and  upswing in other economic factors. The question on many minds is when will these good times end? Has Austin and Texas become too hot?

My answer is that no, the market is not "too" hot just yet. Although some are afraid that we're building too many new homes and condos, the bubble (if there will be one) will not burst for at least a few more years  Economists say that Texas is a reliable place to buy a home because most areas have seen steady, slow appreciation. Although our appreciation was typically only 3-4% in Austin, this helped slow any burst of a bubble. We may be closer to 5% appreciation overall, but that's still not the huge leaps we saw in California and Phoenix.

With an estimated 1 Million people who will move to the city by 2016 or so, we should still have a solid economy, which is the foundation for a stable real estate market. If anything, most Austin residents should be concerned about their property taxes increasing each year as a result of higher appraisals. When I see a sign of a slowing market, my blog readers the first to know.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

East Texas Resident Sentenced for Defrauding Investors

Crime isn't paying for a resident in East Texas, who were recently convicted of real estate fraud. Jack A. Brown, from Tyler, took investors for more than $27M. According to the article from News-Journal.com, Brown was ordered to pay restitution of  $8,286,950 while his partners were each ordered to pay $27,540,302.

Between 2001 and 2004, Fleder, Brown, and Sherman devised a series of joint real estate ventures. Through newspaper advertisements and seminars, Fleder recruited insurance agents, financial advisers and others to sell interests in these real estate projects in South Carolina, Virginia and Lindale.

Fleder and Brown promised investors their money would be used to develop these tracts, and they would share in the profits. The defendants also told investors modular homes would be placed on the properties, officials said. They misrepresented the true merits of the investments, property ownership, its value, and the use of investment proceeds, according to a press release from federal officials.

I've had conversations with agents and clients the past few days about the number of scams and unethical investors involved in real estate. Many investors that are know are good people who are straightforward with potential buyers and seller, but there has been a noticeable increase in the number of investors who are inexperienced and/or outright dishonest.

In this case, a consumer defrauded investors, which illustrates that even experienced investors can become victims if they aren't careful.

Link: Marshall man sentenced in real estate fraud.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Austin Business Journal: Texas #2 for Site Selection

AUSTIN (Austin Business Journal) – Texas is a great place to do business, second only to North Carolina. That's the word according to this month’s issue of Site Selection, which features the 2006 list of top business climates.

The annual ranking is determined 50 percent by performance of the state in Conway Data's New Plant Database, which tracks new and expanded business facility activity, and 50 percent by a survey of corporate site seekers across the country.

The survey asked decision makers one key question: "Based on your experience, what are the top ten state business climates, taking into consideration such factors as lack of red tape, financial assistance and government officials' cooperation?"

Rounding out the top ten states were Ohio, Georgia, Tennessee, Indiana, Kentucky, Alabama, Michigan and South Carolina.

For those of you interested in site selection or land development in Texas, the Urban Land Institute is hosting their Third Annual Emerging Trends in Real Estate November 17th in Austin from 11am to 1pm. Contact us for more info or visit Austin.ULI.org.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Texas Cities Top Growth Charts

Texas A&M recently reported on Texas growth. 

In the five years ending in 2005, Texas was the only state to have more than one city among the fastest-growing in America, and it had four...Texas population patterns show the state's large cities are not just growing rapidly, but even those such as Austin, which struggled during the post-2001 recession, have recovered...While such large U.S. cities as Detroit, Philadelphia and Chicago lost population in the first five years of this decade, big Texas cities attracted new residents by the thousands and drove real estate markets to record levels.

According to the article:

  1. The Top Ten Most Populated Metros in 2005 were Houston (#4), San Antonio (#7), and Dallas (#9).
  2. Fastest Growing Texas Cities 2000-2005 were San Antonio (#4), Forth Worth (#5), Houston (#7), and El Paso (#10).
  3. U.S. Rankings by Percentage Growth 2000-2005 were Fort Worth (#1), San Antonio (#4), El Paso (#7), and Austin (#10).

Although growth is expected to continue in Forth Worth, recent reports from the Forth Worth Star Telegram is expected to slow in 2007.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Dee Copeland, Texas Realty Blog on Vacation

I just wanted to let all the RSS fans and others know that I am on vacation this week. Posts may be a little slow coming. I'll be in the Grand Canyon, so am not sure I'll have full internet access. I will be back in Austin this weekend, so can pick up any missed or delayed posts at that time.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Retirees Flock to Texas

Baby Boomers and other retirees are moving to Texas in large numbers. This is one of the reasons behind our booming economy. I'd written before that the Boomers often want to move closer to their grandkids, which means condo units and housing near campus' should appreciate significantly over the next 5-10 years.

Texas is making efforts to further entice the retiree crowd.

The state Agriculture Department launches its "certified retirement community" program this week when it starts accepting applications from towns that want to join a marketing campaign aimed at retirees. "We're going to promote Texas as a retirement destination," said Robert Wood, the assistant commissioner for rural economic development, who will oversee the program created by the 2005 Legislature. Mr. Wood said the state will create a Retire in Texas Web site.

"Texas' lower cost of living is drawing retirees from Florida and California," he said. "They're selling their $500,000 houses, buying $250,000 homes in Texas and putting the rest into their retirement nest eggs." Especially popular with seniors are small to midsize towns within a couple of hours' drive from big cities.

"Retirees want a combination of small-town friendliness and urban amenities," Wake Forest University gerontologist Charles F. Longino Jr. said. Gene Warren, a Phoenix-based consultant, expects as many as one in five boomers, or 15 million Americans, will relocate upon retirement in the next 25 years. "The stakes are enormous," he said. "Each household will spend an average of $36,000 a year and pay an average of $3,000 in state and local taxes. That's like adding a job-and-a-half to your community."

Because the Legislature appropriated no money for the program, application fees from the towns will finance it. Communities with fewer than 20,000 people will pay $5,000; others will pay 25 cents per resident. Mr. Longino found in his research that native Texans account for a fifth of the retirees settling in the Lone Star State. These counties are Texas' most popular destinations for out-of-state retirees:

1. Hidalgo (the Valley)

2. Cameron (Brownsville)

3. Bexar (San Antonio)

4. Williamson (Austin area)

5. Collin (North Texas)

6. Bandera, Frio, Gillespie, Kendall, Kerr and Medina (the Hill Country)

7. Parker and Tarrant (Fort Worth area)

8. Chambers, Liberty, Montgomery and Waller (Houston area) 9. Bell and Coryell (Temple-Killeen area)

10. Blanco, Brown, Burnet, Coleman, Hamilton, Lampasas, Llano, Mills and San Saba (the Hill Country and Central Texas)

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Texas Vet Land Board increases cap on vet home loans

AUSTIN (Texas Veterans Land Board) – The Texas Veterans Land Board (VLB) voted unanimously recently to increase the cap on veterans’ home loans from $240,000 to $325,000, a change that is expected to result in more veterans than ever taking advantage of this benefit, said Jerry Patterson, agency commissioner.

In addition, veterans may borrow as much as $60,000 from the VLB to buy tracts of land as small as one acre.The Texas Veterans Land Board was created in 1946 to help veterans returning from World War II buy land to farm or ranch. For more information on its loan programs, visit the Veterans Land Board Web or call 800-252-VETS (800-252-8387).

Friday, August 04, 2006

Texas A&M Real Estate Center Opens Online Store

One of my favorite real estate publications is the RECON by the Texas A&M Real Estate Center. RECON provides the latest commercial and residential market news. They have hundreds of thousands of subscribers to their weekly newsletter updates.

TAMU has now opened an online store, which has some interesting information from local and national real estate practitioners. There are some good publications on our Texas Property Tax system, English-Spanish glossaries of real estate terms, landlord-tenant guides, how to obtain a Texas license, etc.

I'd definitely suggest looking at the tools because many can help any investor or agent get a better understanding of our marketing and how we practice real estate here. They're also pretty inexpensive.

Link: Real Estate Center Online Store.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Bryan-College Station Economy Growing Stronger

Key economic indicators show that the Bryan-College Station economy is seeing significant growth in employment, construction and consumer spending, reports the Bryan-College Station Eagle newspaper.  Single-family housing permits increased by 58% in April compared to the same month last year. 

Only auto sales and airline enplanements declined, the paper reported.  About 1,300 more jobs were available in the area than this time last year.  Retail sales showed an 8.2% rise, and hotel-motel occupancy tax receipts rose by almost 11%.  Average home prices also increased by 10%, and the value of all construction rose 40% from $19.3 a year ago to $27.1 million this year.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Two Texas Cities in Running for Futuristic Power Plant

Texas is already undergoing an economic makeover compared to where we were a few years ago. Some of us may remember that we were consistently the state with the highest number of real estate foreclosures in the nation.  Now, because of factors that I've been covering in this blog (out-of-state investors, job growth, retiring baby boomers, hurricane evacuees making this their home, etc.) our local economy is on the upswing.

It was previously announced that we were in the running for a prototype of 'clean-burning' power plant. Odessa and Jewett were picked as finalists for the FutureGen plant, along with two locations in Illinois. I'm not going to get into how it works since you can look that up on Futuregen's website, but I can say that it's a great concept.

If Texas can get this plant, it would create jobs in those areas and also help give us the national recognition to keep winning bids for high-profile projects and clients such as this billion-dollar concept. It's definitely excited to be a Texan right now and it seems as if we're going to keep seeing interest from other states as their economies worsen. I'll keep you posted.

Read more: Two Texas sites finalists for clean-burning plant.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Baby Boomers Fuel Real Estate Investing

“Baby Boomers,” some 77 million of them, now own 42 percent of the U.S. housing market and more than one-quarter own more than one piece of real estate, a survey for the National Association of Realtors shows.  The rock ‘n roll and flower child generation is now awash in earnings, equity and inheritance, and have targeted real estate ownership as part of a sound financial strategy. 

The NAR’s 2006 Baby Boomer Survey found the demographic group owns 57% of all vacation/seasonal homes and 58% of all rental properties.  However, their affluency in real estate may also be their undoing if the super-hot real estate market ever cracks.  Often their holdings carry substantial mortgages that could increase their risks further.  Just ask the dot-com investors about one-sided investment portfolios.  Some studies show that boomers are beginning to diversify their investments into other asset-earning retirement accounts, mutual funds and stock portfolios rather than real estate.

In Central Texas, Baby Boomers are flocking to live next to grandchildren who are in college or to relax in a warmer client. Due to all of these factors coming together, we see the Central Texas real estate marketing continuing it's growth over the next several decades.

Dee Copeland, Investment Specialist
AustinHomeNews.com, Team Dee Residential
eRealtyAlliance Commercial Real Estate

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

A&M Reports Fewer Texas Real Estate Agents

Texas trails Florida, California and New York in the number of real estate agents per 1,000 residents, despite the recent boom in residential real estate transactions. This was reported by the Texas Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University.   

The article states that Texas has 4.3 agents per 1,000, about half the number in the 1984-88 time period, after peaking at nearly 154,600 agents in 1986 and then dropping to fewer than 81,200 in 1997.  Today, Texas has 100,000 active real estate licensees, while California has four times that number, Florida has twice as many, and New York has 50% more.

In recent years, high levels of residential real estate investment in California, Florida and New York fueled the rise in the number of real estate agents in those states, but investors from other states have now discovered the Texas marketplace and that may be stimulating the growth in Texas licensees, the Center said.

Most brokers feel that there are still too many investors and agents in the market, but it looks like we have more room to grow. In reading some recently real estate reports from the National Association of Realtors®, the Texas market has growth in the residential, commercial, and international markets. While some may see it as competition, I see it as a bright spot in our economy.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Katrina Hurrican Said to Be Cause of Boost in Texas' Economy

Texas has been booming and will continue to grow. Job growth, appreciation, and the shortened inventory of inexpensive housing stock are said to be the causes.

According to the Austin American Statesman, "Texas added 274,000 jobs in the year that ended March 31, the fastest growth rate since 2000, according to the Texas Workforce Commission. The state estimated that its budget surplus will almost double to $8.2 billion for the two years ending in August 2007."

The story goes on to give credit to the influx of Katrina victims, many of them who decided to make Texas their permanent residence. "Their  presence is being given partial credit for an increase of $1.7 billion, or 4.8 percent, in state sales-tax revenue, which funds half of Texas' budget. The influx of people after Katrina brought spending power with them, and that's had a positive effect on the economy," said Milton Holloway, president of Resource Economics Inc., a research firm in Austin. "

As previously mentioned, our economy seems to be staying on the upswing. Many of the residents of Houston, Austin, and San Antonio opened their wallets, arms, and homes to Katrina evacuees and did not think of being repaid. Many feel that, although we did not realize it would happen at the time, we have been thanked by growing our economy.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Texas Houson Bubble Not on the Horizon

Housing bubbles are hot topics and spark fierce debates among real estate pundits. The April 2006 issue of the Tierra Grande report tackles the issue once again, stating that Texas does not show economic conditions that would lead to a housing bubble. They believe (and I agree) that the growth in the Texas housing market shows an active market, but not a dramatically appreciating market such as Las Vegas or Phoenix.

"From 2002 to 2005, the Texas median-priced home increased from $124,500 to an estimated $136,500, a modest 9.6 percent. The average house price grew from $155,600 in 2002 to $174,100 in 2005, an 11.9 percent increase. MLS sales during that period increased from 201,422 to 265,886, a 32 percent increase". Most of us can agree that these numbers do not currently indicate market fluxuations that would typically be a sign of a bubble.

Read the rest of the report online.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Texas Real Estate: Where's the Appreciation?

Which Texas cities saw the most appreciation in recent years? The Tierra Grande Report from Texas A&M Real Estate Center helps answer that question.

Texas has a stable, but growing, real estate market. According to the report, the lack of significant appreciation in Texas is good for buyers, but perhaps bad for investors. The report includes a chart of appreciation rates in major cities. El Paso, Amarillo, and Corpus Christi were in the top three. The reason for growth in these areas is because of the low prices and recent efforts to revitalize the cities.

Read the report to understand why our market continues to be strong, but will most likely not see the dramatic highs of states such as California, Arizona, and Florida.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Global Convention in Austin Brings Millions to Texas

The 15th World Congress on Information Technology (WCIT) came to a close last week. The event, with delegates from more than 80 countries, brings together global leaders in government and education to discuss IT policy, direct the future of technology, and drive social and economic development. Dbusinessnews had a further description of the event.

According to several news stories, the event will bring millions of dollars to the Austin and Texas economies. I am involved in an international organization whose goal is to help bring more international business to the city of Austin. Secondarily, we'd like to grow local businesses to become global competitors. The convention was held in Taipei six years ago, which created an economic change in Taiwan. City officials and locals hope the same result occurs in Austin, which is already considered by many to be the "High-tech Capital of the World".

Read the News 8 Austin write-up or the article in the Austin Statesman.


Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Maler Named Texas Real Estate Center Director

The Houston Chronicle newspaper reported that ""Gary W. Maler has been named the fifth director of the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University, the nation's largest publicly funded real estate research entity".

"Maler has been with the Center since 1978, serving as coordinator of development programs, senior operations officer, assistant director and, most recently, as associate director. During some of that time, he also held an appointment as assistant to the Texas A&M University vice chancellor for research park development."

Friday, March 24, 2006

Texas Lawmakers Tackle School Finance

Governor Rick Perry has set April 17th as the date for a special legislative session to resolve state school finance issues. Per the Houston Chronicle, "The political question now facing lawmakers is whether to overhaul the state's business tax for a permanent school finance fix or just use a $4.3 billion surplus to cut school property taxes for next year and then leave the question of how to pay for it in the future to the Legislature that begins in 2007".

Read the full article.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Commercial Real Estate Women Network (CREW) Still Growing

The CREW Network is still helping women grow their commercial business. The group has national and local chapters in many of the 50 states. Texas has a few CREW chapters, including Austin, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio .

According to the CREW Dallas website:

"We offer opportunity a framework where dedicated professionals can meet and work on an ongoing basis, develop leadership skills, exchange ideas, pinpoint opportunities and cultivate business referrals...We encourage our members to work with each other, to refer business opportunities to each other, and to members of other CREW organizations."

CREW will often help raise awareness of issues affecting the local and national real estate industry. Each organization also has charitable functions and fundraisers.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Texas Tops Lists of Undervalued Markets

Sixty-five of the nation's 299 biggest real estate markets are severely overpriced and subject to possible price corrections, as published on CNN Money in an article on January 3, 2006.

Housing experts say Texas is bucking a national trend in real estate. Investors are flocking here when sales are slow across the country. Nationally, sales of existing homes are expected to fall a little more than four percent this year, according to the National Association of Realtors.

But Travis County is booming. Housing experts say land in Texas is undervalued and is more affordable compared to states such as California and Florida. An estimated 269,000 Texas homes were sold in 2005 - a 34 percent increase from 2002.

Property is being bought by out-of-state investors looking to get a lot more house for their money. Analysts say Texas has nine of the 10 most undervalued housing markets in America, including Bryan-College Station, El Paso, Killeen, Dallas, Beaumont and Fort Worth. Naples, Florida, is the most overvalued market, where houses cost 84 percent more than what they should.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

How Big is the Texas Foreclosure Problem?

The Texas A&M Real Estate Center wrote a good article in it's January 2006 Issue.

According to the article, "In Texas, local Realtors reported record sales volumes and record high prices although the rates of increase, especially in prices, have been more modest compared with other areas. Recent reports focus on when (not if) the bubble will burst, what factors will precipitate this event and what data may signal it. Leading indicators include national and Texas foreclosure rates, and foreclosure rates in certain Texas metropolitan areas, especially Dallas and Austin."

The article states that Foreclosures.com reports that Texas foreclosures are on the decline, which is good news for our market. I've also noticed less bank foreclosures on the market. Since we're moving towards a seller's market in many metro areas of Texas, most homeowners understand that they can sell their property at a fair price instead of going into foreclosure. For homeowners who have little or no equity, short sales are becoming a common solution.

At this point, we do not seem to have as large of an issue with foreclosures at it may seem.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Tierra Grande Examines "Limited" Broker Services

For the past year Texas REALTORS® have been involved in the controversial "limited services" battle. James Ford and Ron Rutherford tackled the issue in the latest Tierra Grande Report in an article entitled "In Search of a Better Deals" (Jan. 2006, Volume 13, No. 1).

The writers said, "This evolution of services and fee structures in the real estate industry can largely be attributed to advances in technology that allow consumers to search for properties online. The agent's role has become more a transaction facilitator rather than gatekeeper of property listings data. Computers and advances in communications have also made the transaction process more efficient".

According to the research, "...empirical results from the models show that limited service listings sold for 1.7 percent less than typical exclusive-right-to-sell listings and took 17.1 percent longer to sell. Given that the typical discount offered by limited service brokers is approximately 2 percent, there does not appear to be any net gain to sellers using limited service representation". View the complete article here.