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 2010

Luxury Home Buyers In Lumberton, Texas Sitting On The Fence

Squirel on fenceIn the past six months, seven brave home buyers have spent over $300,000 buying a home in Lumberton.  Stop.  Read that again.  Since July 1, 2009 seven home buyers have spent over $300,000 buying a home in Lumberton. 

Where's everyone else?  Are you still sitting on the fence?

In the same six month time period from July 1, 2008 - January 29, 2009 there were fifteen sales at or above $300,000.  Whoa!  Read that again.  Fifteen compared to seven.  Now it doesn't take a math whiz to see that 7 home sales is less than half the number from the year prior. 

Look here.

Lumberton $300k

This is the raw home sales data for July 2009- Jan. 2010.

  • On average sellers accepted an offer that was 93% of their asking price
  • On average it took 178 days on the market before accepting a contract
  • All but one of the new construction homes sold for full price plus

Compare that to home sales data for July 2008- Jan. 2009.

  • On average sellers accepted an offer that was 94% of their asking price
  • On average it took 129 days on the market before accepting an offer
  • Only two of the fifteen sales sold for full price or more

So why is everyone sitting on the fence in the residential home luxury segment?

Oh, my guess is psychology.  People are nervous.  Loans are harder to get but if you can afford a $300,000 home you've had a loan before and can probably get another one.  Interest rates aren't getting any lower.  The government isn't likely to start paying people to buy homes.  Oh, wait!  They have done that too.  Have you heard of the move up home buyer tax credit or first time home buyer tax credit.  What's it going to take to get people off the fence? 

So for now the brave home buyers in Southeast Texas have an amazing opportunity.  Buy when everyone else is afraid to buy.  Southeast Texas home sellers haven't been this negotiable in a long time.  When the market recovers and the buyers start jumping off the fence it won't be long before Southeast Texas home builders stop negotiating and home sellers stop taking low offers. 

Still not convinced this is a good time to buy?  Then stay right there on that fence.  Just don't complain six months from now when Southeast Texas home mortgage rates are higher and that Lumberton, Texas home you love is no longer for sale because someone else was brave enough to buy it when you were still sitting on the fence. 

Want more information on home sales in Southeast Texas?  Contact me on the blog.  Look for the contact button in the upper right column.  Let me help you find a great home at a great price while everyone else is waiting on the right opportunity to come along.

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Has the Southeast Texas Residential Housing Market Hit Bottom?

Dog&bootHere's an interesting little snippet from the CEO of Freddie Mac. 

Daily Real Estate News  |  January 27, 2010  |   Share

Freddie Mac CEO: Housing Is Near Bottom
The inventory of foreclosed houses still hampers the recovery of the housing sector, but overall, the U.S. housing market appears to be at or near bottom, Freddie Mac CEO Charles Haldeman told the Detroit Economic Club on Tuesday.

He predicted that the 30-year fixed mortgage rate would remain between 5 percent and 6 percent through 2010.

"The big downside risk to all this is a large wave of homes now in foreclosure potentially hitting the market at prices that are destructive," Haldeman said.

Source: Reuters News, Soyoung Kim (01/26/2010)

In Southeast Texas our foreclosure rates have remained relatively stable and don't comprise a big part of the residential housing market.  If foreclosures are the thing hampering the recovery across the nation, Southeast Texas should recover faster than the markets with higher foreclosure rates.  In a few more days we'll see how many homes sold in Jan. 2010.  What's your bet?  Have we hit bottom?  Let me know what you think. 

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Housing Bubble Set to Burst in Beaumont, Texas?

Bubble Catchy headline! Caught your attention didn't it?  Don't panic.  At least not before you read the rest of the post.

"Housing bubble" has been one of the buzz words in residential real estate for the past few years.  Maybe the popularity of the phrase has to do with what a great image it creates. It would be hard to find an economist, a news reporter, a home buyer or seller that would say they haven't heard of the US Housing Bubble. 

Even Dr. Gaines, from The Real Estate Center at Texas A&M  has a whole slide in his power point presentation about the 2010 Outlook for Residential Real Estate.  Here's a copy of that slide.

US Median Home $ 
Home prices escalated way beyond the historical norm beginning back in 2002.  The escalation had reached a peak in 2006.  Interesting to see that in Jan. 2010 the US Median Home Price is actually lower than where it would be if home prices had stayed on the typical 3-5% a year increase.  Look at that again.  Homes prices are lower today than where they would be if there had never been a bubble. 

Now look at Beaumont Home Prices:

Beaumont Median Home $
Notice anything different between the two graphs?  First, Beaumont home prices are above the historical trend line.  Not by much, but none-the-less above.  National home prices are below the historical trend line.  Second, our average rate of increase is 4.6%.  The past two years have seen return rates closer to 9%.  Compare that to a decrease in national home prices for the past several years.  Third, this is worth mentioning.  Our median home price in Southeast Texas is approximately $132,000.  The US national median home price is closer to $170,000. 

Its hard to see a bubble when you look at the historical trend line for the Southeast Texas residential housing market.  So, don't panic.  It was just catchy headline after all.

*Credit for the graphs goes to Dr. Gaines and the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M.  **Credit for the photo of the bubble goes to Cinnamin.  You can find more of her photography on

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Buying a Home in Boykin Place, Offer 95%

Of course that is an estimate based on the past six months of sales data. Don't just rush out and make your offer.  

Stop.  Breathe.  Look at the chart.

Boykin Snapshot
There are currently 12 homes for sale in the Lumberton, Texas neighborhood of Boykin Place.  In the past six months there have been 12 homes that sold.  The chart above shows you the current asking price or sold price, the number of days on the market, and the price per square foot.  Looking at the green, you are looking at the current active listings.  At the bottom in green are the averages. 

  • Average asking price $284,155
  • Average number of days on the market 168
  • Average asking price per square foot of living space $99

Look at the orange.  These numbers are the sales since July 2009. 

  • Average sold price $240,650
  • Average number of days on the market 93
  • Average sold price per square foot of living space $95

What else is important?

  • Months supply of inventory is six months indicating a very balanced market which is not tipped in favor of buyers or sellers.
  • Homes priced under $200,000 averaged less than 60 days on the market.
  • The highest list price is $495,000.
  • The highest sales price since July is $299,000.

It just goes to show that even within a neighborhood there can be super hot segments that sell quickly and other segments that don't.  To know how to price your home in a competitive position to get the best price obtainable you need to know this information.  You can only get it from a real estate professional who is a member of the MLS. 

So before buying or selling a home in Southeast Texas do yourself a favor and contact me.  As your REALTOR, my job is to protect your interests, to provide service that you'll recommend to your friends and to get you the best price and terms possible in your real estate transaction. 

*Data on home sales from the Beaumont MLS. 


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Southeast Texas Housing Outlook for 2010

Magnfying glassThursday, Dr. James P. Gaines, was in Beaumont talking about the residential housing market and what's in store for 2010.  If you have never heard of him, then a brief introduction is in order.  Dr. Gaines is a Research Economist with the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M. 

"If you are a buyer or seller of real estate in Texas when Dr. Gaines talks you should listen."

The Beaumont Board of Realtors was fortunate enough to have him present his "Economic and Housing Outlook" for 2010 at the first quarter luncheon.  Now, if you already know if homes values are going up or down this year then there is no need to read any further. 

To give credit where it is deserved the following charts and graphs are from a power point presentation Dr. Gaines presented on Jan. 14, 2010.

First and foremost take a look at home sales in Texas:

Texas Home Sale_Dr G
The numbers are small but the trend is clear.  Home sales rose from 1990 to 2006.  Since the peak in 2006 they have fallen back to the levels seen in 2001-2003.

Second, here's the same trend shown in Southeast Texas:

Beaumont Home Sales_Dr G 
Southeast Texas home sales peaked in 2007.  They have fallen back to about the 2002-2003 levels. 

Third, this chart shows what was going on with median prices and inventory in 2008 and 2009.

Texas SFR Market_Dr G
There was a decline in sales.  Roughly, 9.5%.  There was a decline in the average and median price across the state.  The months supply of inventory remained the same.

Last but not least, take a look at the single family homes sales data for Southeast Texas.

Beaumont SFR Market_Dr G 
Year to date sales fell about 5% for the year in Beaumont.  The average price went down a smidgen.  Our median price actually went up.  One red flag that you don't want to overlook is the months supply of inventory increased to 9 months.  Hint: A six month supply is considered balanced and healthy by the Real Estate economists.  A nine month supply would indicate a buyers market and in a buyers market the pressure on home prices is downward.   

One statement Dr. Gaines made that stuck in my mind went something very close to this; "There has never been a better time to buy residential real estate and there will probably never be this same unique opportunity to buy real estate again in our lifetime." 

What really happens in 2010 remains to be seen but the outlook seems to say if you plan to buy a home do it soon or you may have missed a golden opportunity in the residential housing market. 

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December's Big Three Stats for Beaumont's Residential Homes Sales

Three horsesRegular readers you already know what real estate professionals consider the three big statistics in residential home sales, but for any newbies out there here's a quick real estate lesson.  Days on the market, average sales price and number of home sales in a given time period tell you a lot about the direction of real estate trends in any local market. 

Tip 1

When days on the market are increasing this could be the sign of increasing inventory or a slow down in total sales.

Tip 2

Average sales prices tend to increase with a shortage of inventory and decrease with an excess of inventory.  That's basic supply and demand for those of us who remember our first economics course. 

Tip 3

The number of sales in a given period compared to other similar periods tells you whether the market  activity is slowing or heating up. 

The big number four is months supply of inventory but today we are dealing with the big three not the final four.  For those of you chomping at the bit.  Here you go.  December's big three.

Dec Big 3
First the bad news.  That's the lowest number of December closings since 2002.  Now the good news.  The average sales price is higher than it was in December of 2008.  Want to check my data?  The Real Estate Center at Texas A&M keeps track of residential housing statistics for the entire state.

One trend that was happening throughout 2009 is the months supply of inventory was increasing.  We started 2009 with about seven months supply of homes on the market and ended the year with about nine months supply.  That indicates its probably more of a buyers market than a sellers market but you really have to look at individual neighborhoods in Southeast Texas to know what kind of market it is. 

What does 2010 have in store for the Southeast Texas housing market?  Today, Jim Gaines an economist with the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M spoke at the Board of Realtors quarterly luncheon.  In the next few days I'll be posting some data he shared with us.  Its good stuff.  Stay tuned. 

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Just Listed, Home For Sale in Lumberton, TX

Looking for a home in Lumberton?

Stop searching!  This wonderfully cared for home in Boykin Place just came on the market this week. Even discriminating buyers will be impressed. In its first week on the market over ten prospective home buyers have scheduled a private showing.  Want to see what all the fuss is about?  Watch this home video.

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Filing Homestead Exemptions in Jefferson, Hardin and Orange County

Hungry birds If you settled in to a new nest last year, then its time to think about filing for your homestead exemption. 

A homestead exemption removes part of the value of your residence from taxation and lowers your taxes.  Now, that's something to chirp about.  In order to qualify you must own your home as of January 1 of the tax year and use the home as your principal residence. 

According to the Jefferson County Appraisal District there are actually four types of homestead exemptions:

  1. General Homestead- for every homeowner
  2. Over 65 Homestead
  3. Surviving Spouse Over -65 Homestead
  4. Disability Homestead

Exemption applications, other than over 65, must be filed between January 1 and May 1 of each tax year. 

To find out how much you will save by filing for homestead current rates for Jefferson County are posted on the JCAD website. 

The Window on State Government Website gives the following information for filing for homestead. 

How do I get a general $15,000 homestead exemption?

You may file an Application for Residential Homestead Exemption with your appraisal district for the $15,000 homestead exemption up to one year after the taxes on the homestead are due. Once you receive the exemption, you do not need to reapply unless the chief appraiser sends you a new application. In that case, you must file the new application. If you should move or your qualification ends, you must inform the appraisal district in writing before the next May 1st. A list of appraisal district addresses and phone numbers is available online.

If you need a copy of Hardin, Jefferson, or Orange County's Homestead Exemption form contact me and I'll email it to you.  Just make sure you remember to file before April 30, 2010.  There's no reason to pay more taxes than you have to. Share this with all your friends who found a nest to call home last year and they will be singing your praise.  Happy New Year!


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