An inside look at the residential real estate market in Southeast Texas including: the hottest neighborhoods, proven home selling strategies, home buying and negotiating tactics, median prices by neighborhood, average days homes are on the market, and professional advice on how to get the best deal when buying or selling a home.

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January 2008
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March 2008

February 2008

Sell your Beaumont, TX home faster with a pricing strategy.

Dog_trickThere might not be any "real tricks" to pricing a home for sale, but you should use a pricing strategy.

What's the theory behind a pricing strategy?

An easy explanation goes something like this. People make pricing judgments in mere seconds.  The good news is you can influence the judgment they make. 

The Wall Street Journal's Guide to Property, properly titled, The Real Estate Journal offers home sellers some advice on how to use a pricing strategy to set the price of your home.

Three main points:

1. Round number signal prestige, while precise number suggest a bargain.

2. Buyers anchor off the first digit, so $399,000 seems far cheaper than $400,000.

3. If you cut your asking price, make it easy to calculate the discount.

The article also offers four pricing tips to sell your home faster. 

  • Looking slim
  • Stacking up
  • Sending messages
  • Cutting prices

Want to learn the details?  Read the complete article Four Pricing Tricks to Help Sell Your Home Faster.  Curious how to price your home for a faster sale in Southeast Texas?  Call me.  I'll develop the best pricing strategy for your home. 

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Interested in SE Texas news "from a different perspective"?

BinocularsIf you haven't found The Bayou yet you are missing out. 

Officially subtitled, "Southeast Texas... from a different perspective" this blog lives up to its name. 

You might not always agree with contributing editor, Ron Franscell but he will spark your opinion on a wide range of topics. 

Since Southeast Texas Real Estate Talk focuses on SE Texas homes one recent post caught my attention. It is titled,

"The bank foreclosed on this guy's house... and the new owners found his skeleton in a bedroom." 

If you are curious, it didn't happen in a home here in Southeast Texas.  Good for us.  It happened in Chicago. Not so good for them. Ron provides a link to the full story from the Chicago Tribune on The Bayou.  But you can also click here for the Chicago Tribune story, "This house was a steal."

Thinking of buying a foreclosed home at an auction here in SE Texas, one word of caution, you never know what you might find, especially in the closet. 

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Five Things To Know Before Making an Offer.

Leaning_house_2Thinking of buying a home this spring?

There are five things you should know before making an offer on your dream home.

They may seem like common sense, but don't be fooled by your emotions.  Home buying is an exciting and often stressful experience. 

Follow these five tips and you will reap the rewards of a smart home purchase.

  1. Determine your needs.  What you want and what you need can be two different things.  Do you have to have a two car garage?  Or would you like one but could live without it?  Be realistic.
  2. See the competition. Make sure you see all the other homes that are for sale in the same neighborhood and price range. Click here for Freddie Mac home comparison tips.
  3. Get pre-qualified with a reputable mortgage lender. You can do some number crunching on your own to give yourself an idea of a comfortable monthly payment.  Click here mortgage calculator and tools. But before you make an offer you'll want a pre-approval letter in hand. 
  4. Plan a negotiating strategy. A local REALTOR is able to help you negotiate more effectively than you can on your own.  You will need comparative sales information on other homes that have recently sold in the neighborhood.  This will help determine the best price to offer. More tips on how to negotiate.
  5. Have a back-up plan. Most sellers will counter a buyer's original offer.  You will need to know how much you are willing to go up in price from your offer.  Sometimes more than one offer comes in at once and your offer isn't accepted.  In these situations you need a back-up plan.  Realty Times offers more advice.

Follow these five tips.  Not only will you make a smarter offer, you are likely to save money by not paying too much.  It pays to be an educated home buyer.   

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What $1 Million Buys in Beaumont, TX

Million_2 "What $1 Million Buys in Homes Across the U.S.", published by  Forbes.com  got me to thinking.  Detailed in the Full story is just how far $1 million goes in different housing markets across the country. 

Did you know in Manhattan $1 million will get you a 611 square foot one bedroom apartment?  Wow.  Closer to home with a $1 million budget you can buy a six bedroom 5,000 square foot home in Houston. 

How does a million dollar home in Beaumont compare? 

One thing is for sure.  You get more square footage here than you do in New York City.  About 6,000 square feet more it seems.  According to the Beaumont MLS data from Feb. 2008, there are three homes on the market above the $1 million mark.  The smallest of the three just came on the market.  Its new construction and offers 5 bedrooms, 4.5 baths, plus a 4 car garage with 5990 square feet of living space. 

Not big enough for you?  Would 6349 square feet do?  There's one you can pick up for a mere $1,150,000.  With the 6349 square feet you get 4 bedrooms, 3 full baths, 2 half baths, and a 3 car garage.  Still too small?  The most spacious home on the market at present is a 7596 square foot home.  It offers 5 bedrooms, 4 full baths, a three car garage and a lot of windows to clean.  Although if you are in this price range you probably won't have to clean them yourself.  These million dollar homes offer their owners plenty of comfort from crystal chandeliers, to outdoor kitchens, to fountains, and garage apartments. One would feel no pain living in one of these beauties. 

You might feel a little pain at tax time.  How's a $17,000+/- property tax bill strike you?  The Jefferson County Appraisal District keeps all the property tax records on-line.  You can check your homes value.  It might not seem quite so bad now. 

How often to these seven figure homes sell in Beaumont?

In 2007, two homes sold in this range.  Surprisingly, neither stayed on the market more than 6 months.  Curious about them?  One property was a 125 acre ranch out in Fannett.  The lucky owner got two quarter horses, cows, chickens, and a stocked fish pond with the purchase. The other was an exquisite estate home built by American Builders with 5904 square feet of living space and a sports pool with fountain, fire pit, tanning deck and guest quarters. 

According to the Forbes.com article in some parts of California $1 million probably only gets you about a thousand square feet.  After all the median price in San Francisco is over $800,000.  Compare that to Beaumont's median price of approximately $150,000.

It's fun to see what $1 million buys even if that's not in your budget right now.  The good news is here in Beaumont $1 million buys you an incredible estate. For those of us who have real budgets to live by you can still find your dream home and there's a good chance you can find it for much, MUCH less.

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Did you see it on the cover of The Real Estate Book?

Discover the warmth and beauty of this custom home on a Cul-de-Sac lot in the desirable west-end.  Wonderfully maintained.  Built for owner with attention to detail.  Beautifully landscaped yard with lush foliage.  Features include: 4 bedrooms plus den, formal living and dining rooms, great floor plan for entertaining, fireplaces in den and master bedroom.  School track is Regina Howell Elementary, Marshall Middle, and West Brook Senior High. Click Here for BISD school zone.

If you are looking for quality and location this is a must see.  Call me today to schedule your own personal viewing.   

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Stop. Take a deeper look.

Binocular_fishDriving around town how many "For Sale" signs do you see? 

A lot?  A few?

An interesting point was brought to my attention this week.  It has to do with the months supply of inventory in the Beaumont MLS.  Our inventory numbers have grown since last year. About this time in 2007 there were under 1,000 listings.  Starting off 2008, there are over 1,200. 

A logical person would think we have more homes for sale.  The point that was brought to my attention is we have more homes from nearby areas being added to the Beaumont MLS. 

Hum.  Interesting point. 

The number of homes listed in Lumberton, Orange, Groves, Vidor, Port Neches and other neighboring communities has gone up.  In fact there are over 100 homes for sale in Lumberton.  Those homes are included in the Beaumont housing figures.

Let's stop and take a deeper look at the number of homes for sale in Beaumont's west-end. 

The west-end is often considered the most desirable area to reside.  Homes hold their values.  The schools are good.  Shopping is nearby. 

  • To break it down* there are a total 268 homes for sale.
  • 54 priced from $0 - $99,999
  • 95 priced from $100,000- $200,000
  • 94 priced from $200,001- $499,999
  • 24 priced from $500,000 - $2,000,000
  • *Figures from the Beaumont MLS as of today.

268 homes for sale. Does that seem like a lot?

Price ranges are one limiting factor in home buying. If you want a certain part of the west-end you limit yourself more.  Take the median sales price in Beaumont $150,000.  Say, you want to spend between $100,000 - $200,000, here's what you have to look at:

  • W1 = 6 homes for sale. 
  • Approximate area is E. of 1-10 stretching to the Nueches River by Riverfront park.  S. of 1-10 where it turns E. heading toward Rose City, and N. of the railroad tracks.
  • W2 = 37 homes for sale. 
  • Approximate area is N. of Calder, E. of Dowlen, S. of Eastex Fwy, and W. of the intersection Eastex and I-10. 
  • W3 = 9 homes for sale.
  • Approximate area is N. of College St., E. of Beaumont's municipal airport, S. of Phelan, and W. of 1-10.
  • W4 = 21 homes for sale.
  • Approximate area is N. of Phelan, E. of the Port Arthur Fresh Water Canal, S. of Folsom, and W. of Dowlen.
  • W5 = 15 homes for sale.
  • Approximate area is W. Jefferson County with a Beaumont City address
  • W6 = 7 homes for sale.
  • Approximate area is S. of College, W. of I-10, Washington Blvd runs through it, so does Major Drive.

37 homes for sale. Does that seem like a lot?

Shopping in the upper end, above $500,000, you'll be looking at homes in the area local REALTOR's refer to as W2.  19 of the 24 homes for sale in this price range are located there.  It is home to some of the ritziest neighborhoods in town:  Metropolitan Park, Montclaire, Barrington Heights, Bellechase.

24 homes for sale.  That does not seem like a lot.

Numbers can be analyzed until you are blue in the face.  It is worth taking note, when home buying give yourself enough time to find the home that you want.  If you have to rush to purchase a home you may find there's not as much for sale as you originally thought.

Driving around town and seeing all those For Sale signs can be a little misleading.  That's why it's a good idea to stop! And take a deeper look.

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Beware of false windstorm documents warns TDI

Warning_sign_bird Just last week the Texas Department of Insurance issued a warning to all Texans.  It appears the department is investigating several cases of false windstorm documents.  The full warning can be read here.

In order for a home to be issued a Windstorm Certificate it must be inspected by a qualified inspector.  It seems there are some unscrupulous folks out there pretending to be qualified when they aren't.

10 things you should know about windstorm protection.

  1. Need a list of qualified inspectors?  Beaumont has 19 on the list. 
  2. Why does a home have to have a windstorm certificate?  Its not required, but it is the only way to ensure your home qualifies for coverage through theTexas Windstorm Insurance Association.
  3. What is the TWIA?  It is the state's insurer of last resort for wind and hail coverage in the 14 coastal counties. If you are buying or selling a home in Jefferson County, you'll want to know more about Windstorm protection. Specifically, does the home you plan to sell or buy have a windstorm certificate.
  4. Want to learn more? The Texas Department of Insurance is a good place to begin. 
  5. Do all homes in Jefferson County require coverage?  Jefferson County Windstorm Map.
  6. Does your home have a windstorm certificate?  Enter your address here.  Find out now.
  7. What should you do if you need to re-roof?  TDI answers your roofing questions.
  8. What home construction projects require an inspection? New structures, additions, alterations, re-roofs, and repairs.
  9. When are inspections made?  During the construction phase.  Don't wait until you are done.
  10. In Beaumont who do you call?  The Beaumont Field office 409-833-3756.

If you are going to sell your home and don't have a Windstorm Certificate you might need to get one.  A smart home buyer will ask for one.  But in this case it's not like the old saying goes, "buyer beware", in this case its seller beware.  Beware of false windstorm insurance inspectors, the TDI says so.

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Bad MLS photo of the day: Growing trend.

Bad_mls_photo_2Good photographs sell homes. Bad photographs don't.

70%-80% of home buyers are starting their home searches on the Internet these days.  On-line photographs often determine which homes the home buyers choose to see in person.  A great photo will generate more calls to the real estate agent and lead to more showings.

A clever and funny trend has emerged dealing with the topic of bad photographs. Real Estate Blogs across the country have started keeping a daily log of bad MLS photographs that have been submitted to various MLS boards and marketing sites. 

Some of these photos are really funny!  If you need a laugh today check out some of the "Bad MLS photos blogs".

If you are going to sell your home in Southeast Texas insist on good photographs.  It is part of the full-service you are paying for.  Some real estate agents are better photographers than others.  During the listing presentation ask about photographs.  The Beaumont MLS allows for nine photographs of each listing.  Make sure you get at least six.  Coldwell Banker insists that all homes featured on their website have at least six photographs.  This change just went into effect.  If you are surfing older listings on the net you may see less than six.  But, no more.  Its six photographs or else.  The exception is undeveloped land or new unfinished construction.  Who wants to see six photos of 2x4s and a concrete foundation.

Remember good photographs sell homes. 

Bad photographs - may give home buyers a good laugh- but they aren't going to rush to call their REALTOR and say, "I must see that home!  Yep, the blurry gray one with the newspaper blowing through the yard. I must see it today."

To borrow a line from Uncle Jack at Very Vintage Vegas, "The only thing worse than a bad photo is no photo at all."

If you are selling your home ask the REALTOR about the photographs they will be taking.  If you have more questions about listing your home ask me.   

What are your thoughts.  Would you like to see a bad MLS photo of the week?  Would you rather see the best MLS photo of the week?  SE Texas Real Estate Talk wants your opinion.

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Healthy housing market? Don't count the number of homes for sale.

Bingo_numbersOne might think the best measure of a healthy housing market is the number of homes that are for sale.  The fewer homes for sale, the healthier the market.  Sounds logical doesn't it?

Not so fast. 

The number that gives a much better picture of the health of a local housing market is the months supply of inventory.  In other words, how long will it take for every home that is for sale to sell at the current sales rate. 

National housing supply numbers hit a record high in October 2007 with 10.7 months of inventory for sale.  Down a little since then, but they are still high averaging over 9 months supply across much of the country. 

According to Jim Gaines, of the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M, 6.5 months of inventory is a sign of a "sound market".  The current number of homes for sale in Beaumont, TX averages about a 6 month supply.   Since July 2007 Beaumont's number of homes for sale has gone up but not too much. The first six months of 2007 Beaumont averaged a 5.1 month supply of homes for sale. Starting out 2008, buyers and sellers are on practically equal footing.  Its not a definitive seller's market- with a shortage of homes for sale- and its not a buyer's market- with too many homes for sale- like much of the country.  Standing at 1200+ homes for sale in January 2008, Beaumont, Texas is one of the healthiest housing markets in the country.

Growing numbers:

Southeast Texas's population is expected to grow with the job expansion in our area. Months supply could go down later this year.  Spring is known as the busiest season for home sales. Local home builders are increasing construction to keep pace.  As long as they don't build too many homes before the newcomers get here our market should stay very healthy.  If too few homes are built we could have a shortage.  That would bring on a seller's market and lead to price increases. Not bad if you own a home that you want to sell, but not so good if you are looking to buy. 

Quick fact:  One of the tightest housing markets in the country is Austin, Texas.  Austin has less than a 4 month supply of inventory. *According to the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M.

Moral of the blog:

Want to know how healthy Beaumont's housing market is?  Don't count how many homes are for sale.  Count the months supply of inventory.   

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