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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February 2009
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April 2009

March 2009

Mixed Results Shown in Select Texas City February Home Sales

According to The Real Estate Center at Texas A&M a total of 13,312 homes were sold in Texas last month.  That number represents a 25.4% decline from February 2008.  To see how Beaumont home sales fared, check out the chart. 

Feb Sales by City  

This data is from The Real Estate Center which complies the data from local MLS data.  

Beaumont is still posting home gains.  Our median home prices are up 10.1% from last February.  Sales are down 9.2% which may indicate the difficulty buyers are having getting approved for financing these days but it hasn't started to take a toll on home prices yet.  Our months supply of inventory is at 7.4 months.  Right about six months is ideal market conditions.  If we start accumulating over eight months supply then it will be hard not to have some downward pricing pressure start to have an effect on the housing market. 

Nationally, the inventory level is at 9.7 months.  Still tipped in favor of home buyers but that number is coming down.  Its off the high which was over 11 months supply last year.  Nationally, sales were down about 4.6%.  The National median sales price was down to $165,400.  Off about 15% from February 2008. 

Other interesting facts:

  • Only Lubbock and Texarkana had a larger median price increase than Beaumont
  • Fort Worth saw the largest drop in sales 35.8%
  • Only Austin, Bryan, Corpus, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, and Tyler have a higher median price than Beaumont.
  • Lubbock and Bryan has the lowest supply of inventory at less than 6 months. 
  • Not a single city had more sales in Feb. 2009 than in Feb. 2008

You can find all kinds of great data on home sales at the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M.  For all of you Beaumont Home buyers and sellers out there, keep watching the months' supply of inventory number.  It might be the single most important factor influencing what will happen with our home prices this year. 

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Southeast Texas Home Sellers Get 94% of Asking Price

The U.S. housing market may still be trying to stabilize, but the Southeast Texas housing market remains robust. 

Here's what Southeast Texas home sellers are selling their homes for on average:

  • China 93%
  • Fannett 96%
  • Groves 97%
  • Kountze 98%
  • Lumberton 98%
  • Nederland 94%
  • Orange County 92%
  • Port Arthur 92%
  • Port Neches 93%
  • Silsbee 91%
  • Beaumont all areas 90% and higher

There's really no signs of housing distress in the area.  The picture across the U.S. is even getting a little better.  There's been some encouraging signs recently.

A mere four years ago, we were a nation of spenders.  The personal savings rate, as tracked by the U.S. Department of Commerceshows that in mid-2005 most of us were spending more than we earn.  In 2008, all that changed.  Consumers started worrying and stopped spending. 

US savings graphThe last five years of consumer spending habits can be seen on the chart. In 2008 the economy officially went into a recession and all of us starting saving our pennies. The current savings rate is above four percent.  The highest rate in years. 

When people are afraid to spend, big ticket purchases - like buying a new home- get delayed.  At least, everywhere except Southeast Texas it seems.

More good news on the national housing front, last week Existing Home Sales and  New Home Sales Data both came in stronger than expected. 

Interest rates are lower than they have been in the past forty years. Compare Interest Rates and see what you would pay to buy a home today.  With rates this low its a great time to buy. Affordability has not been this attractive for a long time.  First-time home buyers have an $8,000 tax credit that makes it a great time for the first-time buyers to buy. 

Here in Southeast Texas our housing market has had a mind of its own the past few years. While everyone else was seeing their home lose value, Southeast home sellers continue to watch their homes appreciate.  There have been very few signs of any housing distress at the local level.   Home buyers seem to have heard all about the problems with the National housing market.  They are looking for desperate sellers and below market prices.  Home sellers seem to be listening to different news.  Here in Southeast Texas most home sellers are still averaging ninety-four percent of their asking price for single-family homes sold since January 2009.  There's no sign the trend is going to change and home sellers are going to have to start accepting below market values on their homes. 

So what's the point to all this.  In short, its a great time to buy a home! You may never see rates this low again. However, if you are buying in Southeast Texas you probably won't be able to get the sellers to move off their asking price a whole lot.  Its more important than ever to have a knowledgeable REALTOR help advise you on the comparable sales in a given neighborhood so you can make an educated offer.  

One free tip to all of you prospective home buyers out there, since January there have been more than 400 residential sales, and the home sellers averaged 94% of their asking price.

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The Worries of First-time Home Buyers In Southeast Texas and Across the Nation

Worried dogIts not surprising the first-time home buyers worry about getting a loan.  It may surprise you that they worry home prices may go up in the next six months.

A survey of 1,000 first-time home buyers conducted in early March reveals some other interesting facts. InmanNews reports that the survey conducted for Century 21 Real Estate LLC, also shows:

  • 42% say they are comfortable buying today
  • 48% say they are waiting for prices to go down
  • 69% say they are worried about prices going up if they don't act soon
  • 85% say current home prices are affordable
  • 75% think it is difficult to get a loan
  • Only 41% were aware of the $8,000 first-time home buyer tax credit
  • 77% said the tax credit makes them more likely to buy a home in the next six months

If you are a Southeast Texas first-time home buyer let me know what you worry about.  Ask me for a free home buyers guide.  It may help answer some of your questions and take the worry out of buying your first home.

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Find The Best Southeast Texas Home Builders

Interior construction

Having a custom built home built from scratch just the way you imagine it is a dream for a lot of home buyers.  Finding a reputable builder to build it for you can be a nightmare. 

One way to make sure your home building dream is a pleasant experience is to check out several builders before you sign anything or put down a deposit.

A great place to start your home builder search is the BBB Southeast Texas Home Builders  guide.  These home builders are members of the local Better Business Bureau.  From the BBB reports you can check out a builders reputation and read any complaints that have been filed by unhappy consumers.  

You can also research the Southeast Texas Home Builders Association for more information on local home builders.  

Before you finish your research and select a home builder to build your dream home, make sure to see if they are a member of The Texas Residential Construction Commission.   

Once you've checked the Southeast BBB, the Southeast Texas Home Builders Association and the Texas Residential Construction Commission you ought to be a well-informed consumer.  Of course its always good to have friends, co-workers, and even local real estate professionals recommend the builders they have worked with.   Southeast Texas home buyers looking to find the best home builders in the area have plenty of choices when it comes to local home builders.  The BBB has over twenty-five builder members to select from.  Spend a little time doing your research and you'll make sure your building your dream home is a dream come true not a nightmare.

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The Official Southeast Texas February Home Sales Numbers Are In

The sales have been recorded.  They are official.  The records have been sent to the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M for safe keeping.  So inquiring minds do you want to know how Southeast Texas home sales fared in February?  If so, today is your lucky day.  You even get colorful graphs for your viewing pleasure.

Feb. Home Sales 

Feb. Avg Sales Price 

Beaumont MLS recorded 139 sales.  The average list price was $179,929.  The average sales price was $149,697.   The average days a home stayed on the market was 111.  Over $20 million in real estate changed hands.  

Mid-County MLS recorded 57 sales.  The average list price is not given.  The average sales price was $131,592.  The average days a home stayed on the market was 110.  

Some home sales facts worth noting:

  • Over 33% of the sales in Beaumont were in the $100,000-$159,999 price range. 
  • In Mid-County there was only one Feb. sale over $300,000.
  • Days on the market has gone down since last month.
  • Homes are averaging 3.5 months on the market prior to sale.

February is in the record books. In about a week we can look at the preliminary home sales for March.  Better yet, we will have data for the first quarter of 2009.  Stay tuned for March data and first quarter market analysis. 

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First-time Home Buyers Get Bigger, Better Tax Credit

Dream home 

Our Federal Government is handing out $8,000 to first-time home buyers.  Your dream home may now be within your reach.  Its not often us hard working tax payers get a chance to have the government give us a check for $8,000 but if you buy a home in 2009 that's exactly what's going to happen. 

Now, unfortunately its not everyone who qualifies.  First-time home buyers qualify and if you haven't owned a home in the past three years you qualify. 

What do you have to do to get your $8,000?

Its pretty simple.  Buy a primary residence between January 1, 2009 and December 31, 2009.  Congratulations, you qualify. 

Tax credit iconFor more details and the specifics on the new first-time home buyer tax credit visit the federal housing credit website.  There's a frequently asked questions section.  There's even a video. 

If you are a first-time home buyer in Southeast Texas and you don't know where to begin, call me for a free first-time home buyers guide.  Its a great resource for anyone buying a home, especially first-time home buyers or someone who hasn't bought a home in a few years. 

Five Tips to Begin Your First Home Search:

  1. Ask friends, family, and even co-workers to recommend a good, local mortgage lender and get pre-qualified.  Right off the bat you will know how much you can afford to spend.  This will save you valuable time and avoid unnecessary frustration that comes from looking at homes in the wrong price range.
  2. Decide on the most important home criteria you are trying to find.  Is it a short commute?  Good schools? Do you need more than three bedrooms?  What about age and condition?  All these are important factors to consider.  Remember, you might not be able to afford everything you want in your first home, so decide what your priorities are.
  3. Start previewing homes in your price range on the Internet and with a REALTOR.  Sometimes it may take you a few weeks, even months to find the perfect first home.
  4. Establish a strong working relationship with a REALTOR you trust and feel comfortable with, and sign a Buyers Representation Agreement with the Broker.  This creates a legal contract that establishes that the Broker is working for you not the seller of the homes you are looking at.
  5. With your pre-qualification letter in hand, and a buyers agent working with you, now you are ready to go out and find your first home.  There's a lot to learn about the local real estate market. Again, this is where a local REALTOR is a great resource.  Better yet, as a buyer you don't pay the real estate commissions.  In most residential real estate sales the seller is the one who pays the real estate commissions. 

If you have more questions and as a first-time home buyer you will have a lot of them, feel free to ask me for our free Southeast Texas first-time home buyers guide.  I'll be happy to help you learn how to take advantage of this $8,000 tax credit to buy the home of your dreams.

 

 

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Southeast Texas Housing Market Tops Nation

By now you have probably heard that our local housing market topped the nation in home price increases, in the latest metro study released by the National Association of Realtors.  Something pretty cool came out of that story.  Brandon Jones, with our local Fox News affiliate, came by the office and talked with me about the Beaumont housing market. 

Here's the clip that aired on Fox News. 

You may have to turn your computer volume up some to hear.  Next time I'll know to use more volume when editing.  The story aired on a Friday night when most of you were probably out on the town having fun.  Its still a pretty cool thing to be interview by the local news.  So if you didn't see the news Friday night, then here's your chance.  Beaumont -Port Arthur leads the nation in home price gains in the latest metro study and we made the news.  Woo Hoo.

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February Home Sales in Southeast Texas: Sales Lower, Prices Higher.

The preliminary home sales for February are in.  Not officially recorded by The Real Estate Center at Texas A&M yet, but here's what the Beaumont MLS has recorded so far for home sales in February.

February09sales     

Last February the median sales price in Southeast Texas was $120,600.  Compare that to this February's median of $132,950 and we've had a healthy increase of about 10%. 

Last February the number of sales was 153, according to records kept by The Real Estate Center at Texas A&M.  This February's preliminary sales numbers are 136.  A decrease of about 10%. 

So what's that tell us about the Southeast Texas housing market?  Price gains are good if you are a seller.  They make it harder to buy if you are a buyer.  You can see we still have very affordable areas in town.  Check out the median price in Beaumont west-end (W3). This area is between Phelan and College. Its the most affordable in the west-end at $97,850.  The most expensive area of the west-end is W4. This area is west of Dowlen and East of Major. Median prices in W4 are $236,500.  The highest in the area.  It takes a little longer for the high priced homes to sell.  142 days on average to sell in February. 

There are a few towns that aren't shown on the sales chart.  China, Kountze, Mauriceville, Sour Lake, and Wildwood had one sale or less.  When there is only one sale its hard to interpret much out of that number.  In fact, the  National Association of Realtors looks at quarterly data.  They choose not to look at one single month.  Rather they look for trends over ninety days.  

So don't read too much into February's numbers.  When March is over we can look at the first quarter of 2009.  The first quarter sales numbers should give us a good idea what trends are occuring in the Southeast Texas housing market.  Stayed tuned.  The end of the first quarter is less than three weeks away.  

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Blog Gets "Shout Out" in Beaumont Enterprise

Beaumont enterprise

Writing about the Southeast Texas housing market is a part of my career.  Starting the blog, Southeast Texas Real Estate Talk is one of the ways I keep up to date on what's happening in our local real estate market.  Its also part of the whole web 2.0 revolution that is happening in real estate. 

On any average week, Southeast Texas Real Estate Talk gets between 400-600 hits.  That's people like you doing a google search for information about our local housing market finding the blog.  So imagine my surprise and delight to see that back in February, the blog received over 400 hits in one day.  For obvious reasons I started tracing some of those hits.  What happened on one day to have so many people find the blog in their search results and decide to click on the blog? 

Getting a mention in the local paper seems to the main cause of the blogs best one day ever.  In case you missed reading the article that day, here's a clip.  It was written by Heather Nolan who writes most of the housing articles for the Beaumont Enterprise. 

Enterprise quote 

If you want to read the entire Beaumont Enterprise article, I've made it easy for you.  Just click the link.  Keeping up with the local housing market and posting articles to the blog has been a learning experience and at times a challenge.  Some times, when I'm really busy with the other parts of my job- like showing homes and helping sellers market their homes for sale- I wonder if it is worth the time and effort that it takes to maintain the blog.  Thanks to the Beaumont Enterprise, and Heather Nolan for mentioning the blog and the four hundred of you that took some time to view it that one Feburary day, I'll keep researching the housing market in Southeast Texas and keep on writing.  You just keep on reading!

If you have a topic about Southeast Texas real estate that you would like me to blog about just let me know.

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North Vidor's Newest High-End Residential Neighborhood Opens.

Have you heard of Northbrook Estates?  If not, you soon will.  An exclusive residential neighborhood designed and developed by longtime Vidor residents is now open for home-site sales.  Since pictures are worth a thousand words, here's a short video that must be worth millions of words. 

Technology is so amazing these days.  Its hard to believe I can take several photos with my digital camera, edit them in Photo shop, upload them to a free movie making program in Picassa, upload to YouTube, embed in my blog, and walla!  There you go.  Your own movie. 

Northbrook Estates will turn out to be one of the nicest upper-end communities in all of Orange County.  So the question for discriminating home buyers in Orange County is: Do you want to be one of the first to buy and build your own dream home in this exclusive neighborhood or will you be waiting and wishing you had bought before all the lots were sold. 

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