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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August 2008
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October 2008

September 2008

$700 Billion In Help? House Says No.

Southeast Texas is trying to recover from Hurricane Ike.  Some of us may not even have noticed there is a financial meltdown happening in our nation. Not since the day after the 9/11 terrorist attack has the stock market had such a bad day.  Down over 700 points on the news that the $700 Billion rescue bill was voted down by the House.  Its a confusing economic time for most Americans.  No one wants to bail out the wall street fat cats that got rich on all this but doing nothing is going to hurt us all. 

Imagine not being able to get a home loan, a business loan, a car loan.  The economy grinds to a halt and we are in a recession like none of us have never lived through.  Now, most of us think the house and senate will get a bill passed.  Now its just a matter of some political wrangling to see who gets to structure the bail out the way they want it. 

Here in Southeast Texas most of us are distracted from this national economic crisis because we are still dealing with our own crisis at home.  Do you know someone who lost their home?  It seems like we all know an acquaintance or friend who doesn't have a home anymore.  The phones at the office are ringing off the hook.  If you are thinking of selling or if you have a home you would rent, call me.  Right now the need is outpacing the supply.  As long as there are still banks willing to lend money (Note to Congress...pass the bill!) then we have buyers wanting to buy. 

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Top Ten Facts About August Home Sales In Southeast Texas.

Dog_daysGone are dog days of August.  Its seems like so long ago.  Two hurricanes, two mandatory evacuations, and a week without power can sure mess with your sense of time.  Its hard to believe but we are nearing the end of September. 

Before we are looking at September sales numbers-- if there are any thanks to Gustav and Ike-- lets take a moment and see what the highlights in August 2008 look like.

Here's a top ten list for you.

  1. 190 closings took place prior to the Gulf of Mexico turning into a hurricane making machine.
  2. Just over $27 million in real estate belongs to a new owner.   Hope they didn't get too much damage and they have good insurance.
  3. Three buyers paid over a half million for their new property.  Their September power bill will probably be a little lower than they expected.
  4. Seven buyers bought condos.  I bet they are secretly laughing at the rest of us cleaning up our yards.
  5. 105 days is the average number of days these homes spent on the market. 
  6. 1,429 was the total number of listings at the end of the month.  Expect that number to be going DOWN soon. 
  7. $175,535 was the average list price. Pre-hurricane pricing.
  8. $146,004 was the average sales price. Pre-hurricane pricing.
  9. 63 buyers paid cash for their homes.  Financing is a lot tougher to get these days.  Cash is king. If only we all had a money tree.
  10. 31 closings were funded by the FHA. Hooray for Fannie Mae.
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Hurricane Ike Could Cause Housing Shortage.

Hurricane_ike_crystal_beachWe all know hurricanes cause damage, power outages, and disrupt our lives.  One other thing hurricanes cause in Southeast Texas is a housing shortage

Hurricane Rita gives us a case history.  Back in August of 2005 before Hurricane Rita came through the area there were 1399 homes on the market.  Roughly a 7.9 months supply of inventory.  Over the next seven months the number of homes on the market dropped to 804.  That was a 43% decrease in the supply of homes in a seven month period.  In terms of months supply in March 2006, there was only a 4.5 months supply of inventory for sale in the Beaumont MLS. 

Can you say "sellers market"?

Supply_chart_2The graph here shows a month by month trend of home sales post Hurricane Rita starting in August 2005 and ending in March 2006.  The loss of homes could be worse this time.  Bridge City, Crystal Beach and Port Bolivar were hit so hard by Ike.

Its unclear right now just how many homes are considered a total loss. 

As of this morning, there are 1512 homes for sale in the Beaumont MLS.  That represents a 7.8 month supply of inventory.  If history is any indication we could see the number of homes for sale start to decrease very soon. 

If you are in need of a home or looking for a rental there is reason to start looking now.  If history is any indication of the effect hurricanes have on Southeast Texas, we may be in for a housing shortage.

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Hurricane Ike Recovery Progress Day 7, Vidor, Texas.

Power is back on! 

Most of Vidor has power today.  Everyone else in Vidor who is still waiting on power is supposed to have it by Monday.  It is so nice to have power back.  It makes life seem a little more normal.  This is the last video I plan to film about the Hurricane.  There are some areas that won't be normal for a long, long time.  I've been to Bridge City and didn't want to film there.  It is very sad to see people's belongings destroyed.  Our friends in Crystal Beach have no home to return to. 

The past week we have helped friends with trees through their home and have helped friends with flood water in their home.  We feel blessed our damage was minimal in comparison. 

You will see a lot of clean up has been done in Vidor. 

If you are returning home be safe on your trip.  A lot of progress has been made these past seven days but there is still a lot of work to do. But you can put this in the small blessings column, at least, the rest of the work can be done with the power back on!

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Hurricane Ike Recovery Progress Day 3 in Vidor, TX

Recovery efforts are under way all over Orange County.  Today, we made the journey to find more diesel for the generator.  At $60 per day this is getting expense but its hard to go without AC and the refrigerator.  Signs of progress are being seen.  We passed electrical crews, a lot of generator sales locations, and more and more businesses starting to open. 

No power yet.  You might not want to rush back if you don't have to.  The flood waters have started to recede.  We spoken to friends in Bridge City that have been able to go back to their home and start the clean up and repair process.  There's a lot of work to do before we are back to normal.  For those of you far away, the video might give you a view of what its like in our town on the third day after Hurricane Ike gave us a real slammin'.  Wherever you are be safe. 

They just gave an update from Entergy.  3000 poles need to be replaced in the Southeast Texas area.  14,500 workers are in the area trying to restore power from 33 states.  Power should be back on in Vidor at the following rates 80% by the 18th, 100% by the 21st.  Want to check other areas?  Here's the Entergy Outage Website. 80% of the people in Vidor are going to be really happy tomorrow. 

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Hurricane Ike Aftermath in Orange County, Texas

If you stayed in Southeast Texas to ride out Hurricane Ike you may be regretting it today.  We are going on 48 hours without power in all of Jefferson and Orange County.  To add insult to injury we had more rain today which added to already swollen bayous and creeks.  My husband and I consider ourselves fortunate, we have a generator.   The only problem is generators take fuel to operate.  Our takes about 15 gallons a day.  So the prospect of running out of fuel and not having power encouraged us to venture away from our home and search the area to see if we could find diesel fuel anywhere in Orange County.

We left Pine Forest and drove South on Hwy 105 into Vidor.  Only one gas station at Hwy 105 and 1-10 was open.  It was the Chevron.  Really long line.  We headed E. on I-10.  Our plan was to make it to the truck stop at Hwy 62.  There is a mega Pilot Gas Station there and we figured if any place would be open it might be them.  Luck was on our side.  They were open.  They even had cold beer while we were there. Some might consider that a small miracle.

So for all of you who evacuated Orange County, Mauriceville, North Vidor and Pine Forest-- This video is for you. 

There's no telling when power might come back on so if you don't have to come back right now you might want to wait.  If you need more information about what's going on with the Hurricane Ike recovery 92.5 and the Clear Channel Radio Stations are doing great continuing coverage and taking live calls from Southeast Texans everywhere.   

Hurricane Ike really hit Southeast Texas hard.  The recovery efforts have begun but there is a long way to go before things are normal around here.  Hang in there.  Stay safe until you get back home.

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Hurricane Ike Hits Our Home In SE Texas.

This post is for all our family and friends out there wondering what it is like in Southeast Texas this morning.  Last night about midnight we really started to feel the tropical storm forces at our home.  Wind and rain continued all night and hit their peak around 3am this morning.  Power went off at our home about 11pm last night.  The generator is my favorite appliance of all time right now.  We've had over five inches of rain and the water is rising in Ten Mile Creek behind our home.  We are high and dry so we don't expect any flooding here at our house. 

You'll see what a powerful storm Hurricane Ike turned out to be.  Mother Nature sure flexed her muscle thistime as you will see in the video.

If we haven't talked to you yet, we are fine.  No major damage but a lot of cleaning up to do. 

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Southeast Texas Prepares For Ike!

For the second time in less than two weeks, Southeast Texas is under mandatory evacuation orders due to a hurricane.  Labor Day weekend Hurricane Gustav hit to our East in Louisiana.  This time its Hurricane Ike that is coming our way. 

Since not many people want to look at homes with an approaching hurricane in the Gulf, it was time to teach myself something new and "techie".  Here is my first attempt to video a property for an out of state client and post it here on the blog. 

Step one, take video.  Step two, download from camera to computer.  Step three, upload to You Tube.  Step Four,  copy the embed code to the blog.  Did it work?  Check out my first video. 

Did you watch the video?  Oops.  Next time, no camera vertical shots.  I hope you didn't get a kink in your neck trying to see the inside of the duplex. If you have a laptop just turn it sideways and watch it again. Hopefully the stills at the end of the video made up for that.  Live and learn.  What can I say?

If you are in Southeast Texas, be safe through the storm.  I'll be back out showing homes as soon as the evacuation is lifted and you are ready to go look.

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Fannie, Freddie Bailout: How It Affects Southeast Texas Real Estate and Your Home.

Fannie_freddieDo you know the worst day of a vacation?  That would be the day you return. (ha ha)  After planing, then postponing, and then rescheduling a summer vacation to Florida-- thanks to Hurricanes Gustav, Hanna, and now Ike- we have returned to Southeast Texas.  Home Sweet Home!

Our vacation was great.  The weather was beautiful.  Apparently, Hurricane Hanna took all the bad weather North and we enjoyed three days without a drop of rain. 

Now we are back and preparing for Hurricane Ike. The National Hurricane Center shows the storm moving west.  Its been a close call for Southeast Texas this month.  Gustav went a little East and hit in nearby Louisiana.  If Ike stays on course its going a little west to Corpus Cristi.  But enough about the tropical weather conditions in Southeast Texas, for  that you can log on to The Golden Triangle Weather Website

Here we discuss real estate.  So it didn't come as a huge surprise to hear the news that the Government had stepped in and "bailed out" Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  For those of you not familiar with the mega companies check them out at:

In simple terms- since I'm not an economist by any stretch- Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are companies that bought mortgages from the banks and mortgage brokers that originated them.

The vital roles of these huge corporations is to provide liquidity, stability, and affordability to the nation's residential mortgage market. 

In their own words Freddie Mac's Mission is to help keep the conventional mortgage market liquid with low and affordable rates. 

Here's a "fictitious" example how they do that:

SETEX Bank has 100 million dollars in funds to lend to customers for home loans.  After lending $200,000 to Joe and Sue Homebuyer to buy a home (and 499 other SE Texas homebuyers), the bank is out of money.  No more money to lend to anyone else.  That's bad for the bank and bad for other home buyers.  So, SETEX Bank decides to sell the mortgages that are backed by homes as collateral.  This is where Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac step in.  They buy mortgage loans.  SETEX Bank sells  500 loans to Freddie Mac and they get another 100 million dollars to lend.  Freddie Mac collects the monthly mortgage payments from the mortgage holders and SETEX Bank collected the origination fees associated with loaning the money.  Remember all those closing costs?  One was probably an origination fee.  That was part of the price the bank charged you for borrowing their money.

How did it all go wrong and why are Fannie and Freddie getting bailed out?

Again "fictitious" example from above continues.  Joe and Sue Homebuyer paid $200,000 for their home.  Because they didn't have much of a down payment or a very stable job history, they were approved for an adjustable rate mortgage.  The payments were easy at first.  Perhaps they even had a low introductory rate for the first year.  But now the adjustable has gone up and they can NOT afford the payment anymore.  First Joe and Sue fall behind by one payment.  Soon they are behind by two.  Before you know it they are facing a foreclosure sale.  This is bad for Fannie and Freddie because they aren't receiving the mortgage payments that they had paid SETEX Bank for.  Multiply this by thousands of home buyers and all of a sudden Fannie and Freddie are running out of new money to buy mortgages with. Let's not even talk about the homes that go into foreclosure that the banks have to repossess and then sell at below market prices.  That will wait for another day.

Its all a crisis of liquidity. 

When no one has money to lend then there are no new mortgages.  No mortgages= no home sales.  No home sales = falling home prices.  Its all interconnected. 

So to stop a crisis like we haven't seen since the Great Depression, the Government steps in.  They are going to back all the securities sold by Fannie and Freddie and guarantee the holders of those securities will be paid.

If you want to read more about the bailout and what it means to the economy as a whole here's a few articles to confuse... or should I say clarify what it all means.

I think its a little early to know how this will affect home sales in Southeast Texas.  For one our area doesn't have a glut of foreclosures.  Southeast Texas hasn't been experiencing median price declines like many markets.  Our inventory numbers are up a bit since 2007 but that's not affecting prices yet. Lower rates are good for the market.  Financing is still harder to get this year.  Down payments are once again required so start saving your pennies if you want to buy a home.  That's the biggest difference in the market right now.  Industry and population in Southeast Texas is growing and that is a positive trend for the housing market.

It will be interesting to watch the housing market here in Southeast Texas and across the nation between now and the election.  Stay tuned. I'm sure we will hear more about the Fannie and Freddie Bailout.  Time will tell how it affects us here in Southeast Texas.   

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Move Over! Population Boom Is Coming.

CrowdNew projections show an increase of 135 million people in the U.S. in the next forty years.  The U.S. Census Bureau released their latest population projections last month.  You might want to buy more land.  Elbow room could become a scare commodity. 

The Census Bureau is projecting an increase of 135 million people.  That's a 44% increase.  Just image all of Canada and Mexico moving here.  That's about the number of new residents. 

Much of the boom will be driven by immigration not an increase in birth rates. 

Want to know how this affects the housing market? 

The country will need about 52 million new housing units.  That's a little over one million new homes each year needed to keep up with the demand. 

The national real estate market may still be recovering but the long term outlook for housing is booming.  Move over.  You may have new neighbors sooner than you think.

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