Home prices soar in the Houston area

Seller’s market hits another peak & builders may put dent in demand
From the Houston Chronicle, www.chron.com, Nancy Sarnoff article states that Houston home prices have been shooting up for months, but the steady increases should come to an end once builders pick up the pace of construction, an economist said Tuesday. “It’s a very low regulation environment, and we have plenty of land available. Right now it’s just a question of getting organized and getting that development process back again,” said Bill Gilmer, director of the Institute for Regional Forecasting at the University of Houston’s C.T. Bauer College of Business. Gilmer, who was referring to the Houston suburbs where the vast majority of homebuilding takes place, was reacting to Tuesday’s report from the Houston Association of Realtors, www.har.com, which said that the median price for a single-family home hit a new high of $192,000 in June. It was the 4th straight month the median soared into record territory.
Demand for housing is also reaching new heights as the local economy continues to strengthen & local businesses add more jobs. Buyers closed on 7,220 single-family homes in June, WOW!!! That’s a 13.4% more than a year earlier, according to the realty data. The growing appetite for homes has come as supply has become extremely limited. Generally, it’s been a seller’s market for more than a year, as inventory levels have been ultra-low.
These days, multiple offers & bidding wars often arise when a nice house comes on the market in a desirable area. But for the first time in several months, housing inventory did not fall in June from the previous month, a promise of hope to some buyers frustrated with their lack of options. Inventory remained at a 3.3 month supply, meaning it would take that long to sell all the houses on the market based on sales activity during the previous 12 months. HAR, www.har.com, sees it as a good sign. “The fact that inventory has leveled off month-over-month suggests that we may finally be starting to see enough homes listed for sale to keep up with demand,” Danny Frank, HAR’s chairman, said in a statement.
Homes priced $250,000 to $1 million and above registered the greatest increase in sales volume. The median home price has been rising in part because higher-end homes are making up a larger portion of sales. The frenzied pace of sales has continued even as mortgage interest rates have risen. The interest on a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage was 4.51 according to Freddie Mac last week. That’s a percentage point higher than in May.” Builders are seeing more motivated buyers coming through their doors as the inventory of existing homes for sale continues to tighter,” David Crowe, chief economist for the builder’s group, said.

Grand Texas Theme Park

According to Erin Mulvaney, www.chron.com, there is a new development that goes by the name of the Grand Texas Theme Park. Developers envision a Wild West & Texas themed amusement park 30 miles northeast of Houston to help fill the void AstroWorld left behind nearly a decade ago. Private investors announced this week they have closed on roughly 600 acres of densely wooded land at Texas 242 & U.S. 59. Construction for Grand Texas Theme Park & Big Rivers Water Park is slated to begin by year’s end; the complex could open in 2015.
Lined up to manage the attraction is a company headed by a former Six Flags executive who was the last general manager of AstroWorld. The Grand Texas/Big Rivers Park project also includes an equestrian center, retail & an RV resort. Plans include hotels, more retail & residential developments. “We are extremely pleased to have reached such a major milestone in the birth of Grand Texas & couldn’t be more excited for the opportunity to bring such a unique attraction to families & visitors of the Houston area,” developer Monty Galland said of the land closing.
There is none better when considering an Real Estate Realtor like Laura Hill at Laura Hill Realtor. Look me up at http://www.localkatyrealty.com, 832-771-1314.

Former RoomStore to be upscale townhomes

A Realtor Katy, Tx | Local Katy Realty
Former RoomStore Building

An article by Katherine Feser from the Houston Chronicle, www.chron.com, states today that Asset Plus Cos. & Kayne Anderson Real Estate Advisors have paired up to develop a rental community of spacious townhomes on the site of a shuttered RoomStore in west Houston’s Energy Corridor.
The 232-unit Arrabella Townhomes will feature 8 different floor plans averaging 1,400 sq. ft. Each unit will have its own garage with 2 floors of living space above. Choices will include one, two & three bedroom plans. “We’re a little bit different than all these new higher density projects going in right now,” said Barrett Kirk, senior vice president of development for Asset Plus. Most unite bine built inside the Loop average 800 to 850 sq. ft., he said.
Rental rates have not yet been set, Kirk said. The property will be developed on a 10.5-acre site at the northwest corner of I-10 and Brittmore road with first units ready in the 2nd art. of 2014. The property is in the Spring Brach Independent School District. “It will be very well received with the housing prices going crazy in the area, if you can find a house,” Kirk said. The townhomes will have hardwood floors, stainless steel appliances, granite counter tops, gas ranges, full size washers & dryers & garden tubs along with stand alone showers. Amenities will include a 6,000 sq. ft. clubhouse, fitness center, group exercise room with spin bikes, outdoor fire pit & grill, pool and business center with computers & video-conferencing equipment.
Commercial real estate broker David Littwitz, www.chodrowrealty.com/, estimates he received at least a call a day since he began marketing the property in October. Potential buyers were interested using the site for office, retail or apartments. “The multifamily people are still hovering around the west side of town trying to fill in the pockets,” Littwitz said. He counted 6 apartment projects going up between Kirkwood & Gessner to meet demand from job growth. He noted expansions by BP, Shell, Technip, Wood Group & Mustang Engineering as contributing factors.
And with interest rates going up, now is the time to consider purchasing or selling. There is none better when considering an Real Estate Realtor like Laura Hill at Laura Hill Realtor. Look me up at http://www.localkatyrealty.com, 832-771-1314.

Commerical Real Estate Veterans rejoin the Realty World

A Realtor Katy, Tx | Local Katy Realty
Martin Bronstein & Ralph Howard rejoin the realty world

According to Katherine Feser of the Houston Chronicle, www.chron.com, Martin Bronstein & Ralph Howard are back on the Houston commercial real estate investing scene with the founding of BHW. The duo started Situs in 1985, www.situs.com, and sold it nearly 3 years ago to a company controlled by Lewis S. Ranieri of Wall Street fame. Under their leadership, Situs grew from a small investment company into a global real estate advisory firm with offices across the U.S. & in Europe.
Now Bronstein, 64, & Howard, 62, are returning to their roots as real estate investors, seeking out deals where they can add value by repositioning and improving properties. To carry the firm forward, they have brought on former Situs executives Maury Bronstein, Nick Howard and John S. Wall Jr. as partners.
Howard & Bronstein will focus on retail & land transactions as well as office and industrial possibilities. Apparently, they now have a couple of deals working, one of 25 acres of land in Stafford off of Highway 90 and 3 sites under contract for retail users.
Best Markets
“I’ve heard people say that Houston is the best commercial real estate market in the world of any major city. It’s certainly one of the best.”, said Howard. “You know there’s going to be a major wave of apartments, office buildings & industrial construction, the only thing lagging behind is retail, ” according to Howard. Bronstein states, “The market is so overheated right now, especially the investment market, that prices that people are paying for property are so high. Houston, in the past, always had penchant for overestimating the demand & overbuilding. We have a period of time after the construction where the space takes a while to absorb. We don’t know if that is going to happen.”
Why Now?
“We thought it was a good time to try a different kind of business, back to the way we started Situs to begin with. It was a real estate brokerage, like an investment sales company. It evolved into a consulting company about the time that they started securitizing real estate in the early 90’s.”, Howard said. We brought in these 3 young professionals. They are the next generation. It’s an opportunity to extend our careers, but allows us to look at things with a longer holding period.
And with interest rates going up, now is the time to consider purchasing or selling. There is none better when considering an Real Estate Realtor like Laura Hill at Laura Hill Realtor. Look me up at http://www.localkatyrealty.com, 832-771-1314.

30-year fixed mortgages jump to 4.46%

Contact Laura Hill Realtor in Katy, Tx for A Professional Agent
Mortgage Interest Rates are going up!!!

According to the Associate Press, www.ap.org, U.S. mortgage rates have suddenly climbed from near-record lows & are adding thousands of dollars to the cost of buying a home. The average rate on the 30-year fixed loan soared this week to 4.46%, according to a report Thursday from mortgage buyer Freddie Mac. That’s the highest average in 2 years & a full point more than a month ago.
The surge in mortgage rates follows the Federal Reserve’s signal that it could slow it’s bond purchases later this year. A pullback by the Fed would likely send long-term interest rates even higher. In the short run, the spike in mortgage rates might be causing more people to consider buying a home sooner that expected. Rates are still low by historical standards, & potential buyers would want to lock them in before they rise further.
Sales are Up
In fact, the National Association of Realtors, www.nar.com, on Thursday said the number of people who signed contracts to buy U.S. homes jumped in May to the highest level in more than six years.
Mortgage rates are rising because they tend to track the yield on the 10-year Treasury note, a benchmark for most long-term interest rates. The 10-year yield began rising from near-record lows in May after speculation grew that the Fed might be closer to reducing it’s bond purchases.
The rate on 30-year mortgage soared from 3.93 % last week to 4.46% this week – the biggest one-week jump in 26 years!
Buy Now
Buy now to avoid more potential increases in the mortgage rates. A buyer who locked in a 3.5% rate in early May on a $200,000 mortgage would pay $881 a month, according to www.bankrate.com. The same mortgage today at a 4.46% rate would run $1,008 a month. So hurry and give me a call! Laura Hill Realtor will have all of the answers to your questions when it comes to buying or selling a home. www.localkatyrealty.com

Economic frontier in Houston – Good time to move here

Ecomomy of Houston Skyline
Houston Skyline

According to the Houston Chronicle, www.chron.com, on Friday, June 7, 2013, the economic frontier of Houston is looking rather bright. A report from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, www.bea.gov, this past Thursday, stated that the economic activity in oil & gas exploration & production boosted sales in the state of Texas, especially in the Houston areas. Also, the gross domestic product – the total value of all economic activity within a state adjusted for inflation – increased 4.8 % in Texas in 2012. The U.S. average for 2012 was 2.5 %. While the energy industry contributed the most to economic growth in Texas, durable goods manufacturing, which includes the making of oil & gas field machinery, was also an important factor for the state. Only North Dakota, in 2012, experienced a better economic growth rate than Texas.
Now is a great time to move to Texas, especially in the Houston metropolitan area and Westside Houston or better known as the Energy Corridor, which includes Katy, Sugar Land, & Cypress, has affluent areas with excellent schools, great neighborhoods and convenient residential living life styles. Moving to these and other great areas of the city can not be any easier with Laura Hill of Laura Hill Realtor as your personal Realtor, www.localkatyrealty.com. Call anytime to make an appointment to discuss your real estate needs.

Belfiore Condominium’s – Signs of a more viable housing market in the Houston area

According to Erin Mulvaney of the Houston Chronicle,www.chron.com, A high-rise luxury condominium project planned in uptown Houston could be a sigBelfiore Condominiumsn of a more viable market than in previous years. The 26-story Belfiore will have 46 residences, including two pent-houses, on 2 acres at the southeast corner of Post Oak Lane & South Wynden Drive. The project is led by developer Giorgio Borlenghi with the Interfin Cos., www.interfin.com, who has developed high-rise residential buildings since the early 1980’s, including Four Lear Towers, Villa d’Este Condo’s & Montebello.
Borlenghi said the new condo tower will be the “most luxurious place in town.” By keeping the building to only 46 units on such a large site, we will truly be able to provide our residents with a level of privacy, exclusivity & service unlike any other property in Houston, he said.
The units will be the largest available for condominiums in Houston, starting at 4,600 sq. ft., including 700 sq. ft. of terraces. The units will have 11 foot ceilings & views of downtown & Tanglewood. There will be a 24 hour concierge & valet service & underground parking.
Construction is expected to begin early next year with a target completion date of spring 2016. The units are expected to have a starting sales price of $600 per sq. ft. or about 2.8 million. Borlenghi said this is a good time to build condominiums because of the improved economy & a demand from empty nesters who want to downsize, but only to a certain point. 14 people have already purchased units.
“The recent demand & real estate market is on the upswing,” said Borlenghi. John Breeding, president of the Uptown Management District, said 12 residential projects are under construction in the immediate area. Breeding praised Borlenghi for quality architecture & attention to detail. He said the developer also has a unique sense of when to move early on projects. “This is the first edge of the wave of perhaps additional condominium construction,” Breeding said.
With the economy improving and getting better now is the time to act in regard to buying or selling real estate, so look no further than Laura Hill at Laura Hill Realtor, www.localkatyrealty.com, for all of your residential & commercial property needs.

Realtor Viewpoint

Realtor's advise on emotions
Don’t let your emotions get the best of you when negotiating real estate.

Realtor’s knowledge can help you avoid mistakes in negotiations
According to Danny Frank of Prudential Anderson Properties, www.andersonprops.com  & the 2013 chairman of the Houston Association of Realtors, www.har.com in Sunday’s May 19, 2013 article from www.chron.com, negotiating in a real estate transaction is exciting or terrifying, you won’t get the things you don’t ask for. If there is something special you want, speak up! Your Realtor, Laura Hill Realtor, www.localkatyrealty.com, is an expert at hashing out contracts so both parties are content. Whatever your opinion of the process of reaching consensus may be, here are some mistakes to avoid when negotiating a deal.

People, including some real estate agents, often let emotion dictate their negotiations. I recently had an agent lose their cool, lost their perspective and threatened a law suit 2 days before closing over $100 worth of curtains. It can get really ludicrous sometimes because agents allow their emotions control way too much of the current situation instead of coming to a calm resolution of issues like I always prescribe to. Cooler heads prevailed and the closing happened on the closing date.

Don’t get angry when a buyer presents a low offer for your home. He’s not insulting you, and he doesn’t think your house is poorly maintained. The buyer needs to start the negotiations somewhere. He may be testing the waters to see how low you’ll go. Or his negotiation tactics could have been formed where negotiating is handled differently. Whatever the case, if you see the offer as an insult and choose not to counter, you may be cutting off the process that would have resulted in a sale.
On the buying side, don’t get bent out of shape if a seller rejects your offer or counters with his original asking price. You may have determined that you presented a very fair price for the house. Good for you. Try again or move on.
It’s not personal!!!
Keeping emotions out of a deal also means maintaining a business relationship & not feeling sorry for the other side. If the seller rejects your fair offer based on “needing more money for my retirement fund,” ask for a reason that’s relevant to the property sale. On the other hand, if a buyer said they can’t afford your asking price, but you believe you’re asking fair market value, stick to your guns. Maybe yours isn’t the house for them.

What’s the lowest price you’ll accept for your home? What concessions, if any, will you make? Answer these questions before you put your home on the market and revisit them if your home isn’t seeing the activity you hoped for. And for buyers, what’s the absolute most you can afford? How close are you willing to come to that number? Whether you’re buying or selling, be sure to share this info with your Realtor so he or she knows your priorities.

Splitting the difference
Whether you’re buying or selling, don’t allow an extreme offer to affect your counter. Are you willing to jeopardize the sale of you house because the buyer wants the entryway mirrors to stay? As a buyer, how will your monthly payments really be affected if the seller won’t drop the price another $5,000? Sometimes you have to take a step back to make sure you’re not over emphasizing one detail that is standing between you and your objective. This is when your Realtor should come in and explain the “real” pros & cons of each transaction in order for the buyers & sellers to have a better perspective and view of the bigger picture. At Laura Hill Realtor, www.localkatyrealty.com we are always putting our clients interest first to make sure they receive the best service and to deliver their needs to them and their family. We can help you analyze the current market and put together a specific, detailed buying or selling strategy that will always benefit you.

Real Estate Area Housing Starts Rose 33% in 1st Qtr. 2013

New Housing Starts up 33% 1st quarter 2013
Houston area up 33% in 1st qtr.

According to Nancy Sarnoff of www.chron.com, activity in Houston’s new home market, still just about half of what it was during the housing boom (2006) is heating up again. Area housing starts rose 33% during the first 3 months of 2013, as more buyers jumped into the market. The inventory of existing houses for sale has been shrinking as demand spikes & owners remain cautious about selling. The result has been a seller’s market in many neighborhoods. Homes are selling as quickly as 1-2 days. According to Metrostudy, www.metrostudy.com builders started 6,462 homes in the 1st Qtr. 2013. It was the first time in five years that quarterly starts went above 6,000. New Housing starts are especially up in the Cinco Ranch (Katy, Tx) www.cincoranch.com & The Woodlands area, www.thewoodlands.com. The time to sell is obviously now, but with home sales prices, construction costs going up, & low interest rates, the time to buy is also now. Homes in the Katy & Woodlands areas are a hot spot for real estate buyers & sellers now. Like I always say, not having a Realtor agent when buying/selling a home or property is like going to court without an attorney. Look me up at www.localkatyrealty.com.

Federal Reserve maintains its low interest rates

According to the associated press on Thursday, May 2, 2013, the Federal Reserve plans to keep short-term interest rates at record lows at least until unemployment falls to 6.5%. And they will continue to buy $85 billion a month in Treasury & mortgage bonds. The bond purchases are intended to keep long-term borrowing costs down & encourage borrowing & spending. Unemployment is at 7.5% now, so first time home buyers, empty nesters, or home owners who want to step up, now is the time to consider purchasing or selling because these low historic interest rates will be going up soon. Look me up at http://www.localkatyrealty.com