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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July 2009
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August 2009

Three Addresses You Wouldn't Expect To Find At The Auction

Jefferson Co. Courthouse Tomorrow, at the most Northerly door to the newest addition to the Jefferson County Courthouse, there will be a sale. 

This sale takes place the first Tuesday of each month rain or shine, wind or snow, or even Hurricane as we found out last year.  Its the Notice of Accereration and Notice of Trustee's Sale.  Also, know in layman's terms as the Foreclosure Sale.

This month there were approximately one hundred Notices of Trustee Sale filed at the Jefferson County Clerk's office.  That's about average for Jefferson County in Southeast Texas.  At least it has been this year.  As you might expect you'll see some addresses in Port Arthur.  But it may come as a surprise to see a few addresses that you wouldn't expect.

Now, foreclosure is not a process to make light of.  It is bad for the homeowner.  It is bad for the neighborhood and its bad for the lender who has not been repaid on the mortgage note.  Its not just a problem in the entry level housing market either.  

Would it surprise you to learn a Notice of Trustee Sale has been filed for a home in Barrington Heights?  How about a home on Salem Circle in Dowlen West?  What about another home in Dowlen West on Shakespeare Drive? 

All three addresses can be found by searching the most recent Notice of Trustee Sale records filed with the county clerk.  Here's what it doesn't mean.  These homes may or may not be sold at auction tomorrow.  The grantor and mortgagee have probably been working very hard to work out an acceptable payment plan that will keep the home owner in the home. 

Of the one hundred or so homes that have had a notice of trustee sale filed and are scheduled to be sold at the auction tomorrow, probably less than 1/4 of those will actually be sold.  At least that seems to be the norm.  Often the only bidder willing to buy the home at the auction is the mortgage holder (the bank or lender).  Buyer's have to pay cash at the auction which knocks out a lot of interested would be buyers.  Especially for the more expensive homes. 

If you are curious about the foreclosure auctions, attending an auction is a good place to start.  Tomorrow, at the most Northerly door to the newest addition to the Jefferson County Courthouse there will be a sale.  Sale starts at 1pm or within three hours thereafter.  Bring a chair and snacks and be prepared to wait.  You might be surprised by what you learn.

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220 Homes Sold In July in Southeast Texas

Did you hear U.S. home sales surged 9.6% in July?  The Associated Press reports that for the fourth straight month home sales rise and the housing market shows continuing signs of rebounding.   

Southeast Texas showed a similar trend.  July's home sales were higher than June, May, and April.  A total of 207 homes changes owners according to data recorded by the Beaumont MLS and sent to The Real Estate Center at Texas A&M

Here's where homes are selling and the median price they sold for in July.  Each area shown on the graph had at least two sales.

July Median Price  

Here's how long its taking to sell a home on average in a given area.

July DOM 

Yes, the numbers get small and hard to read when we look at the whole Southeast Texas housing market.  The good news is you can always call me to find out more about your neighborhood. 

Here's five other insights you should know about July home sales:

  1. For the entire area it took an average of 110 days on the market to sell. 
  2. The 207 sales divided by the current number of homes for sale (1383) gives Southeast Texas a 6.3 month supply of inventory.  *Data from the Real Estate Center show 9.2 months.  They must use a six month moving average. 
  3. The median sales price for all homes that sold was $125,250
  4. Lumberton and Beaumont Westend (area 6) has the highest median sales prices for the month.
  5. Financing went as follows: FHA 83 sales, Conventional 72 sales, Cash 52.

The national median sales price of a home stands at $210,100 and inventory is down to a 7.5 month supply.  With the summer selling season coming to an end, it will be interesting to see if home sales can continue the upward climb.  Let me know what you think the August data will show.  Comments are always welcome. 

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Move Over Neighbor. Texas Boasts Biggest Population Gain.

Crowd1

Just reported by The Wall Street Journal , U.S. Census reports show that more people are moving to Texas than any other state.

Excerpt from story:

Sunbelt States See Biggest Population Gains
Early 2010 U.S. Census calculations suggest that industrial states that have been hard hit by the recession have lost population, while Sunbelt states have grown significantly since the last census in 2000. The only exception is Louisiana, which is still recovering from Hurricane Katrina.

The bureau is concerned that foreclosures that have displaced families will make it more difficult to get an accurate count.

States expected to have gained population and congressional seats, including the number they are expected to gain, are:

  • Nevada, +1
  • Arizona, +1
  • Texas, +3
  • Florida, +1
  • Georgia, +1

For the full story, about the 2010 Census report click the provided link.  If your curious why this story ended up on the blog, its simple.  Population growth is good for the housing market.  When demand goes up, prices follow.  So as long as new construction doesn't outpace the new population growth, we've got another reason to be very optimistic about the health of the housing market in Texas.   

On another note congratulations to Shannon Regsiter's Blog.  She's a fellow Coldwell Banker Realtor and Blogger, and in a strange coincidence also a University of Georgia  graduate.  Her blog was voted the "Favorite Real Estate Blog in Texas".  So if you need insight about the Houston housing market, check out Shannon's Blog. 

If you want the latest news about what's happening in the Southeast Texas housing market just keep it right here!  And, thank you to everyone who voted to make "Southeast Texas Real Estate Talk" one of the top ten finalists in the "Favorite Real Estate Blog in Texas" contest.

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Bridge City Home Sales Post Hurricane Ike

A friend who lives in Bridge City recently asked me how the Bridge City housing market has been recovering from the Hurricane.  So I started doing a little research to see what the statistics would show.  Of course, in my opinion, data is always more fun to look at when it is presented in a graph. 

Bridge City $ per sf 

As you can see on the graph and might expect,the newer the home the higher price per square foot of value the home retained even after the storm.  The older the home the lower value it retained. Homes less than five years old sold for an average of $91.3 per square foot.  Homes over 31 years sold for an average of $34.8 per square foot.  If I had to guess what happened, I'd guess that older homes were sold "as is" while the newer homes were restored to pre-hurricane condition.  You can see there is a fairly distinct price difference when you look at the home sales by age of home. 

Another trend worth looking at is the sales price per square foot in any given month.  It would seem logical the more time that has passed since the hurricane, the more likely it would be that the homes would be fixed, repaired and restored to pre-hurricane condition and the sales prices would be going up.  Let's see what the data shows us.

Bridge City $ per sf by month 

Analyzing the data this way doesn't show as clear of a trend.  For six months after Hurricane Ike flooded Bridge City the average sales price per square foot of living space remained roughly the same at just under $50/square foot.  In each given month there were some higher sales and low sales, we are just looking at averages here. *All data from the Orange MLS. 

It does appear that over the past two months the sales price, on a cost per square foot basis, has started to climb.  This would make sense if you think that almost one year after the storm most home sellers would have repaired the damaged to their homes.  The "as is" sales are probably not as common as they were within the first six months after the storm. 

Altogether there have been 104 home sales recorded by the Orange MLS since October 2008.  The summer months started to show a stronger sales volume.  There are countless ways you can look at the data.  I'll fiddle with it a little more and see if any other trends appear that are worth noting. 

What can we take away from the data about Bridge City home sales post Hurricane Ike?  It looks like the newer homes held their value much better than the older homes.  It seems like people were willing to invest the time, energy, and money to repair homes that were less than five years old.  These homes resold at $91.3/per square foot and that is closely comparable to all  homes less than five years old in Southeast Texas. 

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The Highs and Lows: Home Sales in Bridge City Post Hurricane Ike

6025 Grand Court_Bridge City One could call it the "Tale of Two Cities".  After Hurricane Ike flooded almost every home in Bridge City, home sellers had a tough choice to make.  Repair the damage and hope for a buyer not frightened away by the flood damaged town who would be willing to pay the fair market price or sell "as is" and cut their losses.

Since last October, Bridge City has seen 104 homes change owners.*Data from the Orange MLS. Home sellers that opted for the sell "as is" route quickly dropped their prices to less than 50 cents on the dollar of pre-hurricane value.  Investors saw opportunity. 

555 Osborne Bridge City

The highest priced home to sell since Hurricane Ike was a beauty on Grand Court.  It had no flood damage, according to remarks in the MLS.  It sold for $440,000.  Just $9,919 less than the asking price and close to $100 per square foot.  See top photo.

The lowest priced home to sell since Hurricane Ike was an "ugly duckling" on Osborne.  This one was flooded and needed to be gutted down to the studs. But when have you ever seen a 1576 square foot home sell for $12 per square foot?  See bottom photo.  

I've started to gather some data on Bridge City home sales -specifically, "as is" sales vs "renovated after flood" sales. 

Over half of the homes that have sold post Hurricane Ike sold for less than $100,000.  Most of them at a fraction of their pre-Ike appraised values.  But give Bridge City home buyers some credit.  There have been 24 sales over $150,000.  Not too bad consideration the havoc caused by "Ike". 

Stay tuned...

After entering the data into Excel and doing some serious number crunching, I'll see if I can give you some good insight into how home sales are recovering after the devastating tidal surge and flooding that affected the whole town.

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Vote For Your Favorite Real Estate Blog

I voted

"Southeast Texas Real Estate Talk" is up for a big honor and I need your vote. This week is the final round of the "Favorite Real Estate Blog in Texas" competition.  The Real Estate Center at Texas A&M is hosting the competition and tallying the votes. 

Here's the announcement of the finals:

Blog Contest: Final Round Begins Today!

COLLEGE STATION (Real Estate Center) – Two blogs tied for first in heat five of our "favorite Texas real estate blog" contest, filling out the ballot for the final round of voting.

Southeast Texas Real Estate Talk and Scott Nicholson's Austin blog proved equally popular with RECON subscribers.

One reader appreciated SE Texas Real Estate Talk's "data-driven approach," while another found Nicholson's real estate entries informative and his personal stories engaging.

Now that we have our top ten (make that 11 thanks to a tie for second place in the first heat), it's time to vote on the overall favorite blog. In the running are:

Select your favorite and e-mail your vote to Associate Editor Bryan Pope at bpope@mays.tamu.edu. In the spirit of fair play, please vote only once.

Results will be announced one week from today.

Take a minute and look at all the fabulous real estate blogs that made the finals.  Then, take sixty second and send an email to bpope@mays.tamu.edu and vote for "Southeast Texas Real Estate Talk".  Your vote can make all the difference. Thank you!

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July Home Sales In Beaumont, Texas.

Stats.  Just the stats.  Its been a busy week.  Its Friday.  I'll be showing homes tomorrow, negotiating a repair addendum or two so before I head home for the day, here are the July sales statistics.  More details and comparison to prior years next week.  Tonight its just the stats.  Enjoy!

July stats 

*Statistics are from the Beaumont MLS only.  This does not include Mid-county or Orange.  If you would like information on those areas just let me know.  Email, call or post a comment on the blog. 

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It Is Time To Buy!

Just Released Today.Stack of money

Now's the time to buy, if . . .

COLLEGE STATION— “It appears we are at the bottom of the housing market in most Texas cities,” said Real Estate Center Chief Economist Mark Dotzour after reviewing the state’s latest home sale numbers.

Dotzour mentioned two years ago that new home construction needed to fall dramatically to avoid the level of overbuilding that could damage Texas housing markets. He even picked summer 2009 as the bottom of the housing cycle because bankers would constrain credit to homebuilders and developers.

Apparently he was right on all counts. The Texas inventory of unsold new and existing homes is in good shape.

“I feel now is the time to buy a house in most Texas cities,” he said. “Housing affordability has never been higher, and I never thought I would see 5 percent mortgages in my lifetime. If you plan to live in the house for at least two or three years, now is the time to buy.

“If you are planning to build a home to retire to in the near future, now is a great time to do it. Contractors are plentiful, construction costs are lower and mortgage money is cheap,” he said.

Dotzour said mortgage rates should remain low as long as the federal government continues to purchase almost all residential mortgages. When they stop, rates will move up.

The Center’s chief economist is quick to note, however, that everything hinges on one crucial assumption — “that the federal government doesn’t cause further damage to the U.S. economy with higher levels of intervention in healthcare, taxation, cap and trade and rewriting accounting and legal standards.”

Most of you that read the blog on a regular basis know that I'm a huge fun of The Real Estate Center at Texas A&M.  In today's e-news the headline "Now's The Time To Buy, If" caught my eye.  If anyone knows about Texas real estate its the Real Estate Center's Chief Economist Mark Dotzour.  So if you are still waiting for someone to tell you when its the best time to buy a home, consider yourself told.  And, told by a really smart guy. 

Now for the latest in Southeast Texas home sales... read the next post.  
 

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Second Quarter Home Sales Slower in 2009

Southeast Texas home sellers you might want to sit down before you read this post.  The second quarter sales count is in.  As you might expect, the slowing in the overall economy this year has had an impact on the residential housing market in Southeast Texas.  Take a look at what the numbers show us.

3yrQ3 sales  

Overall home sales are off the brisk pace of 2008 and even further off the record pace of 2007.  The second quarter of the year is typically one of the strongest for home sales activity.  In 2007, Southeast Texas recorded 705 home sales as recorded by the Beaumont MLS.  In 2008, our area recorded 660 home sales.  This year the count stands at 548.  That's a drop of more than 20%. See why I said you might want to sit down for that one. Now that you have heard the bad news maybe you're ready for the good news.  The overall median price of homes has gone up during the same three year period.  In June 2007, the median sales price was $131,700.  In June of 2008, the median sales price was $127,700.  In June of 2009, the median sales price was $144,800. 

The best predictor of upcoming price changes in a residential housing market is the amount of inventory.  Limited inventory means higher prices.  Extra inventory means lower prices.  Here's what our inventory levels have done.  In June 2007, there was a 5.7 month supply of homes on the market.  In June 2008, there was a 7.7 month supply of homes on the market.  In June of 2009, there was a 8.4 month supply of homes on the market.  Do you see where this is leading? 

Any time I reference home sales data from years gone by you can check my facts at The Real Estate Center at Texas A&MTheir data goes way back. 

My advice to Southeast Texas home sellers is to price your home aggressively.  If you have several homes for sale in your neighborhood make sure yours is the best priced one out there.  Home buyers are comparison shoppers these days.  They are only going to pay what others have been paying- and paying recently.  If you get a buyer who falls in love with your home and offers full price that's only half the battle.  Battle number two is getting your home to appraise for the sales price.  Have you heard of the HVCC?  Also known as the Home Valuationn Code of Conduct, it sets new rules on appraisers.  Translation: It makes it harder for them to appraise a home that has sold for more than other recent homes in the same neighborhood.  

My advice for home buyers is to make a realistic offer on the home you want.  Southeast Texas has a healthy residential housing market.  We don't have hardly any foreclosures.  We don't any an excess of distressed properties and we don't have a lot of distressed home sellers.  Southeast Texas home sellers are often just as likely to take their house off the market as they are to sell it for a price less than what they are expecting to get.  As a rule of thumb, most sellers in our area average about 94% of their asking price.  I said, "as a rule of thumb" there are a lot of exceptions.  

Here's what's on the horizon that may impact the residential housing market.  In November the First-time Home Buyer Tax Credit is set to expire.  Now if I were a first-time home buyer who could get an $8,000 credit for buying a home, you bet I'd be buying a home.  This could leads to an increase in sales between now and mid-October.  Those home buyers who wait until November may be disappointed to find out they waited to long.  Right now its taking lenders about 45 days to process a loan and get it ready for closing.  Hint to first-time home buyers: don't wait until November to buy.  The second thing that is going to impact the Southeast Texas housing market is the overall economic recovery.  The third thing is the national housing market stabilization and eventual rebound. 

Home sellers you may have to be a little patient right now but the signs show a bright horizon for the Southeast Texas housing market. 

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Southeast Texas July Home Sales: The Hottest Price Range is $100,000-$130,000

It was hot this July.  Not just the temperatures either.  Home sales activity was hot especially in certain price ranges.  Breaking the market down into price ranges -of about $30,000 -shows some real movement in the $80,000-$200,000 range.  Take a look for yourself.

July Sales by $ 

Southeast Texas had the most activity between $100,000-$130,000.  We had the least activity in the $400,000 plus price range.  The most expensive sale in July was $655,000.  Our median sales price was $125,000 with an average sales price of $147,251.  These are preliminary estimates.  The Beaumont MLS hasn't released their official July data yet. 

Other July Home Sales Stats to think about:

  • More homes closed with FHA financing than any other type of financing.  75 of them to be precise.
  • 41 buyers paid cash.  Wouldn't that be a nice problem to have?!
  • 195 homes closed compared to 215 in July of 2008 and 233 in July of 2007.

  • Southeast Texas has about an 8.4 month supply of inventory.

  • The homes that sold averaged 79 days on the market.  That's a pretty quick sale.  We've been averaging a little over 100 days on the market for most sales this year.

How will the summer end?  One thing that is for sure, it is bound to be hot outside.  Which home prices will be the hottest to this month?  You'll have to check back and see. 

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