Real Estate Blog

When is the Best Time to Buy?


Today, one of my clients asked when the best time to buy is.  Well, that ultimately depends on you as a buyer.

But what I can provide is hard data.  The Houston Area MLS or HAR is a great tool available to REALTORS, Brokers, Buyers and Sellers.  Based on Statistics in HAR, homes sold in Pearland, Friendswood and League City during the first quarters of 2013 and 2014 (January thru end of April) sold for 5% LESS on average than the rest of the year (May thru December). That's $10,000 on a $200,000 Home.  And  based on that same data, that may mean a year to year increase of $20,000 on that same Home this Summer!

These areas typically revolve around the school calendars, which is supported in the numbers above as well.  But, with interest rates at historical lows and prices expected to increase, now is as good a time as any if you see one you like.

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Affording a Home in 25 Cities-Houston Included


Affording a Home in 25 Cities took the National Association of Realtors' 2013 fourth-quarter data for median home prices as well as our 2013 fourth-quarter average interest rate for 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages to determine how much money homebuyers in 25 major cities would need to earn in order to purchase the median-priced home in their market.

They determined the after-tax income required to cover only the mortgage's principal and interest payment and used standard 28 percent "front-end" debt ratios and a 20 percent down payment subtracted from the median home price data to arrive at their final figures incuding these for Houston and San Francisco:

Houston: $31,298.99

Mortgage rate: 4.4 percent

  • Quarterly change: -0.17 percent

Home price: $182,300

  • Quarterly change: -2.3 percent
  • YOY change: +8.6 percent

Monthly payment: $730.31

Salary: $31,298.99

  • Quarterly change: -$1,384

Click Here to View Houston, Pearland, Friendswood, Clear Lake and All HAR Homes Now

San Francisco: $115,510.06

Mortgage rate: 4.28 percent

  • Quarterly change: -0.4 percent

Home price: $682,410

  • Quarterly change: -3.2 percent
  • YOY change: +15 percent

Monthly payment: $2,695.23

Salary: $115,510.06

  • Quarterly change: -$9,562

An important disclosure stated at the end of the article says, "There is no doubt that your income will need to be much higher, possibly even double or triple this level, to cover the needed taxes, insurances and other expenses to live in the home, plus the down payment and any other debts you might have. Because those are highly variable, down to even the individual property level and personal choice, there is no adequate way to factor for them.

That's where you come in. We've given you the basic, bottom-line income you need to cover the mortgage; to this, add the annual cost of taxes and insurance to arrive at a realistic cost to obtain a home in your chosen city. Depending upon where you are, these can add up to as much as the mortgage payment itself, or more."


Many readers did find this article to be misleading, especially noting the statement above.  Also, what average buyer has 20% down, right?! What I did like about the article particularly regarding Texas Cities including Houston, San Antonio and Dallas was the great growth rate of home prices and the affordability versus other states.  

Tell me what you think?


5 Mistakes Homes Sellers Make-15 Seconds Makes an Impression


5 Mistakes Home Sellers Make

By Donna Fuscaldo

Published August 28, 2013 FOXBusiness

It might be a seller’s market right now, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have to put some effort into listing their home.

Expert say potential buyers decide whether they like a house within 15 seconds of walking through the door, so sellers should make sure they aren’t making mistakes that turn off potential buyers.

“Buyers can decide if they like it or don’t like it just by walking through the foyer and into the kitchen,” says Peter McMahon, a listing agent at real estate brokerage Redfin. Just like meeting someone for the first time, first impressions are important, he adds.

Price Doesn’t Match Home’s Condition

The biggest turn off to buyers is an over-priced home. Experts say it’s acceptable to reach for the moon when pricing a home if it’s move-in ready and doesn’t need any upgrades or maintenance. But a home that requires work and comes with a big price tag isn’t going to generate a lot of interest, let alone bids.

“The first week or two that the home is on the market it gets most of the traffic,” says McMahon. “If buyers look at the price and photos online you might lose them right there.”

Emotions Get in the Way

Selling a home can be very emotional and it can be hard to take down personal items, but experts say depersonalizing a home is crucial.

According to Brendon DeSimone, Zillow’s real estate expert, a buyer has to be able to picture living in a home, and that image can be hard to imagine with the owner’s pictures and personal artifacts cluttering the house.

“When you go to market it’s no longer a home, it’s a product,” says DeSimone. “You have to make the home more appealing to the average buyer.”

Closed Doors

Part of the trick of selling a home quickly is making the home available to buyers. Although it seems like a no brainer, real estate experts say it’s all too common for the seller to limit the amount of showings and open houses. “Buyers are desperate because inventory is so low. It’s a turn off if they can’t get in to see it,” says DeSimone.

Crowded Showings

Owners who insist on being present during an open house and/or any showings are hurting their chances of getting an offer, warn experts.

Many sellers think they can explain the attributes of the home better than the realtor or want to protect their belonging from being stolen, but their presence can make buyers uncomfortable and leave a home without really considering it.

Lack of Disclosures

A deal isn’t complete until all parties sign on the dotted line at the closing, which gives ample time for one or both parties to back out. And when a deal falls through, agents say it’s often the seller who’s to blame.

Many sellers won’t be upfront about problems with house, or are unaware about the condition of the roof, furnace or hot water heater, says McMahon. “I’ve have had several transactions fall apart in the last six months because things were unbelievably at the end of their life and we had no idea going into it,” he says.

While a leaky roof or out-dated furnace tend to be deal breakers, smaller problems can also have buyers walk away.

For instance, real estate experts say the house has to be clean, organized and free of pets, children and toys. Since much of the buying process is psychological, sellers want to make the home as inviting as possible to the general public.

It also means doing away with style specific decorations and over-the-top paint colors. “Cleanliness is so critical,” says McMahon. “Clean homes overcome a lot of things. People are forgiving when a home is super clean.”

See full article at Here

Houston Real Estate Ranks Among the Top in the Nation


Local Houston Highlights from "Real Estate Market Still Moving Fast..." from

As the summer market winds down and inventory begins to grow nationwide, it's worth noting that according to Redfin data versus two years ago the market has still greatly improved. The number of homes that have gone into contract within two weeks is above 30% versus 23.2% last year and just 14.3% two years ago.


Overall, California is still home to most of the fastest markets, and all of the slowest markets are east of the Rockies.  If you’re trying to buy a home in one of the fastest markets, the pace will likely be more leisurely later this year due to the overall slowing trend and seasonal patterns.


Key findings:

  • The fastest-moving market in June was once again San Jose (Silicon Valley), CA, where 52% of new listings were under contract within two weeks. Even here the market is slowing, as this number was down from 58% in May.
  • The slowest-moving markets were Las Vegas and Philadelphia, which saw 11% and 9% of homes under contract within two weeks respectively.
  • The top three fastest markets were in California. Denver (#4) was the fastest market outside of the Golden State, followed by Washington DC (#5).
  • Miami led the nation with the largest month-over-month increase in the rate of homes going under contract in 14 days, increasing from 18% in May to 24% in June.  New York had the second-largest gain, from 6% to 7%.
  • Compared to a year earlier, Houston sped up the most between June 2012 and June 2013, as the rate of homes going under contract in 14 days moved from 18% to 38%.  Phoenix slowed the most in the year, dropping from 41% to 33%.
  • While there were still no metro areas this month in buyer’s market territory (six or more months of supply) Atlanta came closest at 5.7 months of supply.


Data shows that a buyer's market is a thing of the past.  Pearland, Friendswood and surrounding Sellers, now is a great time to sell! Click here for a free market analysis.


Only MLS-Powered Sites Give Buyers the Edge They Need in a Fast Market


Redfin analyzed 10,000 randomly selected listings in 22 markets to gauge the timeliness of listing data non MLS websites. The analysis found that Zillow did not have 52 percent of the listings that had sold in a short amount of time. Home buyers searching exclusively on Zillow in Houston would have missed out on over 60% of the hottest listings.


A detailed table available in the full article shows the percentage of new listings that sold in a week or less that never appeared on Zillow according to this research, as well as a ranking of 22 real estate markets by speed.


Some important notes in the table about Houston (also reflecting Pearland, Friendswood and Clear Lake statistics):


  1. Houston had the 2nd highest percentage of listings sold without ever reaching Non-MLS powered sites!
  2. In fact, less than 30% of those sold in this study ever reached sites like Zillow.
  3. Houston's inventory supply was less than the Naional average at 2.4%.
  4. Houston listings that sold in less than a week was higher than the National Average.

10 Fastest Growing State Economies-Texas No. 2


Whether it's international trade, a resurgence in manufacturing, or an old-fashioned oil boom driving the growth, <certain> states are outpacing the rest of the US.

No. 2: Texas

GDP growth: 4.8%
Real 2012 GDP: $1.21 trillion (2nd largest)
1-year population change: 1.67% (2nd highest)
1-year employment growth: 2.17% (6th highest)

The GDP of Texas, the nation's second-largest state economy behind California, grew at nearly twice the rate of the United States overall in 2012. Two factors -- the energy boom and population growth -- have been driving economic growth, according to Bernstein.

The state's population rose by roughly 1.7% in 2012, the second-highest increase in the nation. It's part of a long-running trend: Texas' population grew by more than 20% between 2000 and 2010.

Energy also has been a major factor in the state's growth. The mining industry, which includes oil and gas extraction, contributed 0.9 percentage points to GDP growth, more than all but two other states. Texas' mining industry is the largest of any state in the nation, accounting for $123.3 billion of the nation's $285.2 billion in mining output during 2012.

See All 10 of the Fastest Growing Economies Here

Top Markets for Buyer and Sellers - June 2013


Top markets for buyers and sellers

Tight inventory favors sellers in the Southwest <including Pearland, Friendswood and surrounding Houston Areas>, while buyers have the upper hand in some Midwestern and Eastern cities.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Dec 17, 2012 4:04PM

If you're considering buying a home, you might want to know whether we're in a buyers or sellers market.
The answer depends very much on where you are. Just as the real-estate bust played out differently in different cities, so does the recovery. If youre in Chicago, youre in a buyers market. If you're in Las Vegas, youre in a sellers market, according to the latest research by Zillow.

To reach its conclusions, Zillow compared asking prices, sale prices, the number of days homes were on the market and the percentage of homes with price cuts in the 30 largest U.S. metro areas.

Whether you're in a buyers or sellers market doesnt reflect whether prices or rising or falling, but it can affect your negotiating power.

Number of improving markets hits new high

"Many of the strongest sellers markets are in areas that were hardest hit by the housing bust, places like California, Nevada and Arizona, which may seem counterintuitive," Stan Humphries, Zillows chief economist, said at the Zillow blog. "But much of that strength is likely driven by investor interest, as many distressed and nondistressed homes are purchased in bulk and transformed into rentals. This investor activity is contributing to very low inventory levels, which increases demand and helps drive up prices for all homes in these markets."

Best and worst housing markets in the next 5 years

A shortage of inventory in many cities including Las Vegas and Phoenix, where investors have scooped up many bargain-priced homes is also making those communities sellers markets.  Home prices continue rising.
The top buyers markets, according to Zillows analysis:

1. Chicago
2. Cleveland
3. Philadelphia
4. Cincinnati
5. New York
6. Pittsburgh
7. Baltimore
8. St. Louis
9. Columbus, Ohio
10. Charlotte, N.C.
The top sellers markets:

1. San Jose, Calif.
2. San Francisco
3. Sacramento, Calif.
4. Las Vegas
5. Phoenix
6. Riverside, Calif.
7. Los Angeles
8. San Diego
9. Seattle
10. Washington, D.C.

Even if you live in an area that is dubbed a buyers market, you may not have as much leverage as you think. Each metro area is made up of micromarkets, and popular neighborhoods may still be sellers markets, with few homes for sale and great demand.

Inventory Down, Sales Up-HAR Houston Housing Report for March 2013


Inventory Down, Sales Up -HAR Houston Housing Report for March 2013


HOUSTON HOME SALES BLOSSOM IN MARCH Aggressive home buying shrinks inventory further while driving the median price to a record high

HOUSTON (April 16, 2013) Its hard to tell that the spring home buying season has begun because real estate transactions throughout Greater Houston never slowed during the traditionally quieter winter months. The addition of nearly 119,000 jobs over the past 12 months and the resulting need for housing, combined with continued low interest rates, helped make March Houstons 22nd consecutive month of positive home sales.

According to the latest monthly data prepared by the Houston Association of REALTORS® (HAR), home sales jumped 17.0 percent compared to last March. Housing inventory, which had been at a 13-year low of 3.6 months during the first two months of the year, shrank slightly in March to 3.5 months.

The lower supply of homes and added demand sent prices higher. The median price of a single-family homethe figure at which half the homes sold for more and half for lessrose 6.5 percent to $172,000, an all-time record high for Houston. The average price rose 4.6 percent year-over-year to $236,195, the second highest level ever.

Contracts closed on 5,779 single-family homes. That is the largest one-month sales volume since August 2012. All housing segments experienced gains except for those priced under $80,000. Homes selling between $80,000 and $250,000 registered the greatest sales volume increase.

REALTORS® continue to see multiple offers on single-family homes and condos throughout the Houston market, which suggests that our local economy is growing stronger by the day, said HAR Chairman Danny Frank with Prudential Anderson Properties. Governor Rick Perry recently stated that Texas is the fastest growing state in the country, and most of those people seem to be coming to the Greater Houston area because our job market is better than that of Dallas, Austin and San Antonio."

In reporting the addition of 118,700 net jobs during the past year, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics ranked Houston No. 1 for job growth among the 20 most populous U.S. cities. The 4.5 percent hiring increase returns Houston to its previous job peak of the fall of 2011.

Foreclosure property sales reported in the HAR Multiple Listing Service (MLS) declined 27.2 percent compared to March 2012. Foreclosures currently make up 12.3 percent of all property sales, down from 15.8 percent one month earlier. The median price of foreclosures climbed 5.8 percent to $86,000.

March sales of all property types in Houston totaled 7,006, a 19.4 percent increase over the same month last year and the largest one-month volume since last August. Total dollar volume for properties sold leapt 23.6 percent to $1.6 billion versus $1.3 billion a year earlier.

March Monthly Market Comparison

March brought positive results to Houstons overall real estate market when all sales categories are compared to March 2012. On a year-over-year basis, total property sales, total dollar volume and average and median pricing all rose.

Month-end pending sales totaled 4,433. That is up 6.5 percent from last year and portends the likelihood of another month of positive sales when the April figures are tallied. Active listings, or the number of available properties, at the end of March declined 22.1 percent from March 2012 to 32,704.

Housing inventory in Houston held at 3.6 months in January and February, but slipped slightly in March to 3.5 months. That remains the lowest level recorded since 1999. Inventory first fell below a five-month supply in August 2012 and then dropped below a four-month supply last December. The inventory of single-family homes across the United States stands at 4.7 months, according to the latest report from the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR).

Total property sales 5,8667,00619.4%
Total dollar volume $1,276,756,997$1,578,481,65323.6%
Total active listings 41,99732,704-22.1%
Total pending sales 4,1624,4336.5%
Single-family home sales4,9415,77917.0%
Single-family average sales price $225,809$236,1954.6%
Single-family median sales price $161,500$172,0006.5%
Months inventory* 5.63.5-37.7%
* Months inventory estimates the number of months it will take to deplete current active inventory based on the prior 12 months sales activity. This figure is representative of the single-family homes market.
Houston Real Estate Milestones in March
  • Single-family home sales increased 17.0 percent year-over-year, accounting for the markets 22nd consecutive monthly increase and the largest one-month sales volume since August 2012;
  • Total property sales rose 19.4 percent compared to one year earlier and also accounted for the largest one-month sales volume since August 2012;
  • Total dollar volume jumped 23.6 percent, increasing from $1.3 billion to $1.6 billion on a year-over-year basis;
  • At $172,000, the single-family home median price reached an historic high for Houston;
  • At $236,195, the single-family home average price reached the second all-time highest level;
  • 3.5 months inventory of single-family homes is the lowest level since 1999 and compares to the national average of 4.7 months;
  • Sales of townhouses/condominiums shot up 47.1 percent year-over-year.

8 Reasons Your Home Isn't Selling


Listing losers: 8 reasons your home isn't selling and what to do about it

By Melinda Fulmer of MSN Real Estate or Read the Full Article Here

Why do some homes linger on the market for months or years while others are snapped up in a matter of days?

While much of it has to do with price and local inventory, a whole host of factors can conspire to make a home sit and stagnate on the multiple listing service without showings or offers.

To find out what makes some listings such laggards, MSN Real Estate polled agents across the country and combed through properties from our partner looking for real-estate wallflowers and the issues plaguing them.

Think of these examples as cautionary tales for sellers, with a bit of advice sprinkled in from agents who have seen it all before.

"The longer a house sits on the market, the more it gets stigmatized," says Deirdre Lohan Conway, of Schooner Properties near Cape Cod, Mass. People ask, "What's wrong with that house?" and "Why hasn't it sold?"

If you don't want your home to be the listing that won't budge, read on for eight listing no-nos and four tips to help you sell lickety-split.

Note: This Section Summarized by Stephanie Bateman for Local Houston Clients

1. Priced Too High: Did Your Realtor Provide a Comprehensive Market Analysis? Click Here for One Now!
2. Outdated Decor: Update Prior to Listing with Easy Fixes or Adjust Your Price-Note* Your Cost&Buyer's Will Be Different
3. Condition: Be Sure You're Presenting a Pretty Picture
4. Bad Location: Locally in Houston we Worry About Busy Roads, Zoning and Above Ground Utilities
5. Bad Design: Does Your Home Offer Components Buyer Desire in Your Area? Formal Dining, Study, Garage
6. The Nicest House on the Street: Is Your Home Overdone for the Area?
7. It's Tought to Get a Loan on it: Cond-Hotels, Investor Properties, Homes with Roof, Foundation Damage May Face Issues
8. Bad Photos: For Information About Local Real Estate Photography Services Click Here

Four Tips from Melinda Fulmer or Read the Full Article Here

1. Be realistic about price.
"In my market, the only reason a property would stay on the market for longer than three months would be that the price is too high," says Ron Redfern, an agent from Greeley, Colo. "Price will overcome any objection," he says.

Don't listen to your neighbors or get stuck on what you think you should get. Look at comparable sales, paying special attention to those in similar condition.

2. Keep it neutral.
Everybody's taste is different, so don't stage your home as a showcase of your own bold or traditional style. Rather, buyers want a minimalist canvas on which to project their own tastes, agents and stagers say.

3. Be picky about the photos you upload to the MLS.
Less is more when it comes to images, Opperman says. While it is necessary to include photos of the home inside and out, it's not necessary to document every single mediocre thing, such as that cabinet over the toilet or a large but messy closet.

Photos should showcase the rooms or features that are true selling points. Buyers are making quick decisions about real estate online. Don't give them a reason to say no.

"If a buyer isn't excited about a home after seeing it online, they won't want to see it in person," Opperman says.

4. Put your best foot forward right off the bat.
Your home should look as good as it can from the minute it hits the MLS, agents say. Don't think, 'Well, maybe I will stage it if it doesn't sell in six months," says PollyAnna Snyder, a Bozeman, Mont., agent responding on a real-estate message board.

It should be clean and decluttered from day one, agents say, to generate the most interest and offers. If sellers wait, they risk having their property thought of as a problem property.

"Days on the market can have lingering and adverse effects on price," Snyder says.

10 Products Off the Inflation Grid

10 Products Bucking Inflation Trends

US inflation is extremely low by historical standards. But that low average masks a trend of sharply rising -- and falling -- prices for some products.

For decades, US consumers have enjoyed a relatively low inflation rate at 2-3% on average.

After an ugly period of high inflation in the 1970s and early '80s, policymakers seem to have the problem of rising prices largely under control.

But some items, mostly driven by investor and global consumer demand, have tipped the scale in record price increase percentages.

'The CPI is based on a broadly measured basket of goods which has risen in price by a modest 28% over the past decade and 64% over the past 20 years. Still, some prices have risen far faster, while other products actually have seen their prices fall in recent years.'

Gasoline-Up +131%
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, gasoline cost an average of $3.54 a gallon in February 2013 -- or about $71 for a 20-gallon tank. That was up 131% from a decade ago, when gas cost $1.53 a gallon, or $31 for the same size tank.

Gold-Up +371%
According to online precious metals tracker Monex, the value of gold has soared from $350 per ounce in 2003 to about $1,650 per ounce in mid-February 2013. That's an inflationary bump of 371%.

Coffee-Up +160%
In 2011, wholesale coffee bean prices exceeded $3 per pound for the first time in more than 30 years after spotty harvests of high-grade Arabica beans. The slackened supply was coupled with an increased thirst for gourmet coffees among middle-class consumers...According to the International Coffee Organization, the composite wholesale price for coffee was 51.9 cents per pound in 2003. In January 2013, the price was $1.35 per pound -- an increase of 160%.

Has the Price of Your Home Been in Line with Inflation? Click Here to Find Out.

Eggs-Up +70%
In 2002, a dozen eggs cost an average of $1.18, and in 2012 that same carton ran $2.01, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. To find out why eggs have been in the midst of 70% inflationary hike, we head back to another lesson straight from freshman college economics class: the rising cost of production.

Razor Blades-Up +80%

Televisions-Down -56%
In 1997, a 28-inch Samsung color TV was priced around $750. In 2012, a 32-inch Samsung LED TV ran consumers $330, according to -- a deflationary rate of 56%. This is largely due to mass innovation causing the producer to be able to lower the price.

Movie Rentals-Down -40%
From $5 a movie back in 2000, to $2.99 most recently on average due to increased technologies.

Natural Gas-Down -39%
In January 2003, natural gas cost about $196.31 per 1,000 cubic meters. In January 2013, the price was about $119.78 -- a deflation rate of 39%, according to the website IndexMundi, which tracks commodities. In October 2005 the cost was $490.82! Milder winters are said to have created less demand. In addition, other countries have found their own sources.

Cell Phones-Down -90%
By 2012, you could get the most advanced smartphones for about $399, a price decline of 90% from a whopping $4,000 in 1983. Just as with other electronic devices, early innovation drove prices high but as more comparable products flooded the market, prices soon were driven down to fit the budgets of ordinary consumers.

Computers-Better and Cheaper
in 1977, an Apple II computer with 48KB of memory would have cost you $2,638, according to Geekosystem. That's $10,000 in 2012 dollars.Today a faster, lighter and more user-friendly 13-inch MacBook Pro costs $1,499. Windows-based PCs, which generally aren't as expensive as Macs, have fallen even more in price.

Original Story at By Bill Briggs, SwitchYard Media

Search All Houston HAR MLS, Pearland MLS, Friendswood MLS League City MLS and Texas MLS Here.

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