Hi. I'm Diane McNelis, Award winning Texas Realtor(R) with Coldwell Banker Southern Homes. Selling and Buying homes in Southeast Texas can be complicated. I'm here to help. When we work together I become your advocate. My goal is to get you the best deal possible and to exceed your service expectations. On my blog, I share tips and strategies for selling and buying homes in Southeast Texas.

Only in Texas

Southeast Texas Home Sales, Let's Recap 2011

Posted by The Real Estate Center at Texas A&M.

This information is worth sharing.  Love those guys at The Real Estate Center.  They research home sales for the whole state.  Here's what they recently posted.

Texas Stats

Here's what jumps out at me.  Beaumont still has a 11.1 month supply of homes on the market.  Remember a six month supply is considered a healthy balanced market.  Until the supply starts to trend down toward the magical six month supply, the Southeast Texas housing market will continue to feel downward pressure on home prices. 

If you have wondered where I've been and why there have been so few posts over the past two months, I'm happy to say my husband and I had our first child.  Instead of researching the housing market, I've been researching everything baby.  Look for more posts on the Southeast Texas housing market in the coming weeks as I get more sleep I will start to post again.  As always feel free to contact me for specific questions about real estate in Southeast Texas. 

No More Foreclosures in Southeast Texas

Halt sign

 At least for now, so says the Texas Attorney General...

The Texas Attorney General's office has halted all foreclosures, all sales of properties previously foreclosed upon, and all evictions of persons residing in previously foreclosed upon properties, until mortgage companies have completed a review of their processes, including whether employees or agents "robosigned” affidavits and other documents recorded in Texas.

The AG suspension notices were sent to 30 mortgage-loan servicers doing business in Texas.

What's this all mean?

I think we are all still trying to figure that out.  Here's a little more information for those of you buying a foreclosure in Beaumont or any part of Texas for that matter.

Dallas News

Houston Chronicle

FAQ's Texas Association of REALTORS

If you want to learn more about buying and selling foreclosures in Jefferson County and Southeast Texas contact me today.


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!


Four Amendments On Nov. 3rd Ballot That Affect Homeowners

Reason to voteIn less than thirty days, the voters of Texas will have an opportunity to express their desire on the way the state handles the taxation of residential property. 

You have a voice.  The question is will you use it.  The Texas Association of Realtors is spreading the word about four amendments on the upcoming ballot that will directly affect all homeowners in the state. 

The recommendations made by The Texas Association of Realtors are to

 Vote yes for Proposition 2, 3, 5, and 11. 

If you are like me and want to learn about what you are voting for read this article,  Important Issues For Texas Homeowners

Most of these propositions will help bring continuity across the entire state in the way appraisals are handled.  It will be good for all Texas property owners to know that the way their county handles property value and taxation is the same as every other county in Texas.  One of the biggest reasons why continuity is important: State funding for public schools is based on the taxable property in each school district. 

November 3, 2009, mark the date.  Make time.  Vote! 

Move Over Neighbor. Texas Boasts Biggest Population Gain.


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.

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!

Who Likes The New Incandescent Lightbulbs??? Not Congressman Ted Poe.

A little off the topic of real estate for the moment, today's post is a video by Southeast Texas' own Ted Poe.  Did you receive a voice mail from him today?  I did.  The message did what it was supposed to do.  That is, get me to watch this video.

Have you seen it?  The video of Congressman Ted Poe addressing congress about the new energy saving light bulbs? Over five million people have seen it on you tube.  Maybe not a comedian outright, Poe has some humorous points.  The video is about five minutes long.  If you've got five minutes go ahead and watch.  You'll learn something you didn't know about lightbulbs.  I promise.

The speech shows how good ideas can be marred by bureaucracy.  Just listen to the EPA instructions for disposing of a broken light bulb. 

So how does this all relate to real estate in Southeast Texas?  Here's how.  Energy prices- the high energy prices- are having an effect on real estate sales.  Right now its not a good effect.  Sales have slowed.  The election will have an effect on real estate.  The candidate you support will vote for legislation that effects real estate.  Today's post is just about being knowledgeable.  Your vote will have an impact on the future of real estate sales in Southeast Texas.  Now, who likes those new incandescent light bulbs?

Jefferson Co. Residents Call For Property Tax Relief.


Did your property value go up this year?  How about your assessment from the appraisal district? 

Many Jefferson County home owners will be answering yes to those two questions this year.   

Did you hear that The House Select Committee On Property Tax Relief and Appraisal Reform was in Beaumont today? 

Speaking in a public hearing at Lamar University, Chairman Otto explained the goal of the committee is to report and recommend legislation which will give taxpayers relief from rising property taxes. 

Concerned citizens spoke up about their property tax problems.  If you didn't have time to attend the hearing today, here's a few statements that you missed:

  • A resident of Vidor, "There should be no increase in a home owners value unless there are comparable sales to support the increase".
  • A retired home owner in Beaumont, bought her home in 1986 for $80,000 and now can't afford the taxes on her home that is currently valued at approximately $175,000.
  • A retired home owner in Mid-County has seen an 88% increase in his tax assessed value in the past five years.  His home is 50 years old.
  • A Valero Representative spoke in favor of the current system.  He states that in all the states Valero has operations, Texas has one of the best tax systems.  (I'm not sure how popular he was with the rest of the crowd).  Even the committee called him on the carpet about a West Texas Valero Refinery that is disputing their tax assessment and withholding paying taxes while the issue is resolved.
  • A Nederland home owner who's lived in his home for 49 years has seen his home's tax assessment go from $74,000 in 2007 to $94,000 in 2008.  He's 78 years old.

Five key points made by the committee worth mentioning:

  1. In Texas there is no state income tax, therefore the consumption tax and property tax are the only taxes that fund the operation of the government.
  2. In the five prior hearings they had found 50-60% of the time Appraisal Review Boards sided with the home owner making an appeal.
  3. The government is run by those who show up.  This quote made by Representative Taylor implies that citizens who care and get involved can make a difference in government decisions.
  4. Tax assessments will now show a five year tax history in an effort to give home owners more information about their property tax increases.
  5. The creation of a taxpayer advocate is an idea being considered by the committee.

The hearing continued on for more than three hours with public testimony.  After the public said their peace then invited testimony was heard from the Chief Appraisers of Chambers, Jefferson, Liberty, and Orange Counties.  Unfortunately, I couldn't stay for the invited testimony. 

One take away from the hearing, Jefferson County home owners called out loud and clear.  They want property tax relief.

Texas Home Sales Slow Down: Beaumont not immune.

SnailCould it be the pain we are all feeling at the gas pump is having an affect on home sales?  After resisting the national housing market meltdown of the past two years, the sales numbers in Texas have shown a bit of a slow down in May. 

The Real Estate Center at Texas A&M tracks home sales according to MLS data for all of Texas.  They just reported May sales.  23,969 total homes were sold.  That number represents a 14.9% decline from May 2007.  On a positive note the median sales price was up during the same time period.  The state now has a 6.6 month supply of inventory. 

Did you read the post about a buyers market?  Eight months supply is when the market is considered balanced.  Over eight months supply is a buyers market.  Under eight months is a sellers market.  The inventory supply across the nation stands at 10.9 months. 

Where does Beaumont-Port Arthur stand?

  • Inventory has moved up to a 7.4 month supply across the entire metro area.
  • Home sales this May were down 21.9% from May 2007.
  • Median price is down slightly to $127,600. 

Curious about some other areas?

  • Galveston has a 17.3 month supply of inventory.  (Buyers market)
  • Lubbock and Amarillo have less than a 6 month supply of inventory. (Sellers market)
  • Austin, El Paso, Amarillo, Galveston, Houston, Lubbock, San Antonio, and Texarkana all had an increase in the median price of homes sold even though some of those cities had a fewer number of homes sell.
  • For the full report log on to the Real Estate Center's Residential MLS Activity data.

Keep in mind real estate is local.  So local that it differs between neighborhoods.  Last week an analysis of Barrington Heights showed it was a sellers market.  This week I'll look at some other neighborhoods in Southeast Texas.  Want to know about your own neighborhood?  Just let me know.

The Offer Is In The Mail! Selling your property's mineral rights in Jefferson County.

Remember, a few weeks ago, all the seismic blasting that was being done in and around Beaumont?  If you live in North Vidor and Pine Forest by Ten Mile Creek you heard the blasts for weeks.  The ground shook, it rattled your nerves, and according to the  Southeast Texas Record one property owner found a 150 foot hole filled with dynamite explosives had been drilled on his property without his permission.

Watch your mailbox.

Lake Ronel Oil Company which conducted the seismic tests was looking for pockets of gas and oil.  If found Lake Ronel Oil Company will want to buy the mineral rights. 

According to this video from the Texas A&M Real Estate Center, offers to buy mineral rights from property owners often arrive in the mail.

This five minute video introduces a very complex topic here in Texas:  The buying and selling of mineral rights.  If you are considering buying or selling your mineral rights in Jefferson, Orange or Hardin County, TX, you'll want the advice of an attorney.  Until then... 

Watch your mailbox.  Watch the video. 

Let SE Texas Real Estate Talk know if you receive a letter.