Home Design and Future Trends

January 14, 2011

Home design is fluid and ever changing. Many features we clamor for today may be passé tomorrow. Remember white kitchen cabinets? At one time, this was THE top wished for item and now… It is dated and unwanted. Corian countertops… All the rage in the 1990’s but now, nowhere near the top of choices.

What changes can we expect in the near future?

Based on responses to a recent survey by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), here are some ways in which builders can expect homes to change by as early as 2015:

Single-family homes will get smaller (74 percent of respondents said).

Homes will have more “green” features (68 percent).

Homes will have more technology features (29 percent).

Homes will have more universal access features (20 percent).

Homes will have more outdoor living features, such as kitchens and fireplaces (10 percent).

The average home size will be roughly 2,150 sf.

Living rooms will merge with other spaces in the home (52 percent), vanish to save on square footage (30 percent), or become a parlor/retreat/library or music room (13 percent).

If the living room doesn’t vanish, it will likely decrease in size (76 percent).

Also downsizing are the entry foyer (66 percent) and dining room (63 percent).

Features “very likely” to be included in a new home in 2015 include a kitchen-living room combo (“great room”), walk-in closet in master bedroom, laundry room and two-car garage.

“Unlikely” features include three or more bathrooms, mudroom, unheated porch, dining room, skylights, three-car garage, four or more bedrooms, media room and two master bedroom suites.

Homebuyers are “somewhat likely” to want universal design features such as stepless entries, three-foot-wide doorways and four-foot-wide hallways, stepless showers that have seating, non-slip floor surfaces and grab bars in bathrooms.

People seem likely to lavish more attention on the kitchen, ensuring that room will retain its status as the home’s social center. Survey respondents said they are “very likely” to want double sinks, recessed lighting, table space for eating and breakfast bars. They’re “somewhat likely” to want a central island, walk-in pantry, recycling center and desk/computer area.


Texas: A Proposed Sales Tax on Real Estate –

January 12, 2011

Texas, like many states, is currently facing an economic shortfall and our Legislators are scrambling to make up the difference. There are many proposed bills being brought for consideration to try to shore up the State’s coffers. While I realize the money has to come from somewhere, an informed consumer is wise consumer.

Political party affiliations aside, as a Realtor, I am a fierce proponent of private property rights. I will be running a series of discussions about the proposed bills to share available information so that you aware of items that could negatively impact your property rights and your pocket-book.

Taxes on real estate transactions: Combined State and Local sales tax rate would be applied when a property is sold or changes ownership and on long-term leases.

This is similar to buying a car now but could come into play whether a home is bought, sold, or transfers ownership due to divorce, probate, etc. The position of the Texas Association of Realtors (TAR) is that this will actually drive down the number of transactions and potentially  increase the future tax rates needed to cover earmarked expenditures, burdening both buyers and sellers and hurting the real estate market and the Texas Economy.

As a Buyer: This would certainly eat into the cash reserves for your down payment, repairs, furnishings, etc. And if your margins for borrowing are narrow, this could actually diminish the amount you can finance or size of home you can purchase.

As a Seller: This will eat into the equity or net proceeds you walk away with from the sale and could end up raising the costs of housing in your area.

As a Tenant/Landlord: One concern is what will be designated as a “long-term lease” and how much will this impact lease costs because someone has to bear the expense:  landlord, tenant or both. As an investor, this could certainly impact your ROI.

What are your thoughts on this proposed sales tax item?


Katy, TX – Cinco Ranch Does it Again! in Katy, TX – # 1 in sales in US

March 24, 2010

by christi borden

 According to a report by the PR Newswire – March 23, 2010 –  Newland Communities’ Cinco Ranch in Katy (sprawling suburb 20+ miles west of downtown Houston) was the nation’s top-selling master-planned community for new-home sales in 2009, according to a survey by RCLCO, an independent real estate advisory firm.

“With 887 net new-home sales in 2009, Cinco Ranch topped the RCLCO study, moving up from second place in 2008. Sales in the 7,600-acre community were up 14%, making it one of only four communities on the top 10 list to report a positive new-home sales gain from 2008 to 2009. Telfair, another Houston community by Newland Communities, was ranked fourth, up from sixth the year prior, with 450 new-home sales, a 9% sales increase over 2008 levels.”

 Interestingly, Newland held 5 spots in the top-selling 15 for last year: Cinco Ranch, Telfair, Eagle SpringsTeravista and FishHawk Ranch, No other developer has held such a record and continues to be the leader in not only sales but resident satisfaction.

The Cinco marketing folks have recently changed their campaign to, “Cinco Ranch, Your Comfort Zone”. At a time when the economy across the nation has people skittish about real estate, this is a brilliant approach. Buyers need to feel comfortable or safe when making a home purchase. This has never been truer than for the relocation buyer – who may only be here for a year or two before moving again and needs to place his/her family in the safest area in terms of resale value. Although there are many choices out there, one must really look to the strength of the community and the developer along with the actual builder when considering a purchase. Buyers understand this as do the Realtors that serve them. No amount of incentives or give-aways can change the fact that community is so very important in our area – not just in terms of resale values but also quality of life. If you research the sales data for area builders, you will note that many of them are being kept afloat because of the strength of the very communities in which they build.

 “Newland’s sales success at Cinco Ranch can be attributed to the product diversity our homebuilders offer, the proven established track records of these communities, and a highly focused marketing approach that speaks to our customer needs,” McLeod continued.
Houston’s strong showing in the RCLCO study underscores the fact that the city is a bright spot in the national economy.

 RCLCO has been releasing its top-selling MPC rankings since 1994.

About Newland Communities
Newland Communities is the largest private developer of planned communities in the United States. With a legacy that began in 1968, Newland specializes in comprehensive residential and urban mixed-use master planning with expertise in leading large-scale single and multifamily new-home communities. Headquartered in San Diego, Calif., Newland and its affiliated companies are currently developing and managing nearly 40 projects in 14 states. www.newlandcommunities.com

 About RCLCO

RCLCO is an independent real estate advisory firm, providing market and financial analysis and strategic planning services to a broad spectrum of clients including developers, corporations, financial institutions, institutional and private investors, public agencies, and nonprofit organizations around the globe.


Local Custom Builder Partner Retires…Two Buyers Benefit!!!

March 16, 2010

 

by christiborden

Masterpiece Custom Builders: Launching a new generation in home building and celebrating a much earned retirement.

Have we got a deal for you!

 Masterpiece Custom Builders is offering two Inventory Homes for immediate and BELOW MARKET VALUESale in Lakes of Bella Terra as part of their company’s special celebration!

 Gordon Boyle, original founder of Masterpiece Custom Builders has announced his impending retirement, entrusting the future success of his company to his long time friend and partner, Greg Stephens, a master builder in his own right. Greg will carry on the Masterpiece name and tradition of building award winning Custom Homes in Lakes of Bella Terra and other communities in the West Houston area, maintaining the integrity of workmanship while adding to their design capabilities and product line.

This retirement announcement has prompted Masterpiece to offer for special Sale selected Inventory Homes in selected communities at Below Market Value prices during their restructuring process!

 Included in this offer are two Custom Homes in the Lago Verde section in Lakes of Bella Terra:

These homes are 100% completed, ready to move-in, fully warranted and Masterpiece is ready to “make a deal” to liquidate inventory!

If you have not committed to a Custom Home in another community, I invite you to stop by and visit Lakes of Bella Terra.  With interest rates still very low, the economy on an upswing, and construction costs for future new homes on the rise,  there has never been a better time to take advantage this “once in a lifetime” opportunity!

 HOW DO I GET THE BEST POSSIBLE DEAL DURING THIS BUILDER’S CELEBRATION?

Contact me right away for more details regarding this special event at 832-368-5953 or email me, Christi Borden at christi@christiborden.com. We have Sales Experts on site and the builder, Greg Stephens is available for private showings.

 Custom Home Sales Leader – Christi Borden, Prudential Gary Greene, Realtors     www.ChristiBorden.com


Katy makes the Gadberry Group’s top 5 position!

January 8, 2010

 

Group, renowned supplier of Household Level Geo-Demographics names their nine most notable high-growth areas in the nation from 2009 and guess what, our wonderful Katy is number 5. Click here to view the entire report.

Katy, Texas

Katy was one of the Top 25 candidates in 2008 and occupies the number five position in this year’s list. The area is second for absolute household change, adding 15,699 households since 2000, and was third for percent household change, increasing from 6,585 households in 2000 to 22,284 households in 2008, or 238%.

Katy tied with Mansfield for highest percentage of children compared to total population at 42%. It is also the most ethnically diverse of this year’s places, with no ethnic group having less than 6% of total households and all major ethnic groups growing more than 150% since 2000.

Those of us who live, work and play in Katy, TX are not surprised. Our growth has remained strong and constant. We are consistently recognized as one of the hottest real estate markets in the Greater Houston Area (which is also one of the hottest in the US).

Why Katy, you ask? What has led to this amazing growth? We have wonderful master-planned communities, terrific access to thoroughfares for your commute to work, close proximity to the huge energy corridor (a major employer in our area), one of the strongest school systems in the State, constantly growing retail, entertainment, dining, shopping opportunities and now, we are currently developing into a major medical area know as the Med-Center West.

So many reasons to love living here… and it is great to be given this national recognition. If you would like to know more about our area, please visit my web site www.ChristiBorden.com  or give me a call 832-368-5953.


Is Now the Time to Invest in Real Estate?

January 8, 2010

I always liked being the center of attention, even as a kid in my grandfather’s restaurant where I frequently accompanied the piano player – probably to the chagrin of those trying to enjoy their food.

I still get the same attention now – without the singing, mind you –  because my business is the business of real estate. When anyone finds out I am a Realtor, the subject of conversation invariably hits on “How is our market?”. I love this, of course, because it is one of my favorite subjects.

In reading today’s Tycoon Report, I came across a blog addressing real estate in Florida and how the economic indicators point to NOW as a terrific time to get off the sidelines and hit the field.

One thing you will note in this article is that the author addresses investment to “hold and lease” – much different from Speculation – which is the type of investing that got us into so much trouble. If you purchase property or any investment for that matter in anticipation of earning money from the short term sale of that property – you are a speculator. While in some areas of the country that gambit has paid off, most have seen  their dreams of instant wealth vanish before their eyes. I am still amazed at people that lost money through investments during the dot.com debacle with the attitude of “easy come/easy go” but when the same thing happened in real estate, they were shocked and felt that they “were done wrong” by some entity and should be “bailed out”. Why did they expect protections for speculating in real estate that they did not expect for stocks? Gambling is gambling, no matter what you wish to call it. While I love a go at the Craps tables occasionally, I promise you that the Pit Boss is not going to give my money back just because I do not know what I am doing!

Let’s take a look at real estate as a true investment without the specter of Speculation hanging over our heads. Purchasing a property to hold and lease no longer takes into account the sole expectation that the property will appreciate (there are no guarantees in this world) but sets the expectation for a reasonable rental income (backed up by factual past rental data for that particular type of property and area) and then perhaps the hope of some accrual of appreciation at the end of the life of that investment (icing on the cake but not the batter itself).

Self-Directed IRA’s could be a good way to fund your investment but you need to know that this is heavily regulated and you would not want to make an improper move that would endanger your IRA protections. I would talk to a Self-Directed IRA specialist before moving in this direction. Also note the words “Self-Directed”, meaning you need to know what you are doing. Hire a professional Realtor to assist with finding the best properties to meet your investment goals. Word of caution: Do not be tempted to jump on the latest Foreclosure just because it looks like a “deal”. There are many factors that go into finding a viable leasehold investment and “deal” is not at the top of that list.

All in all, now is a terrific time to investigate real estate as a long-term investment to add to your diverse financial portfolio. Good Luck!


Houston Real Estate Market on the Upswing?

November 10, 2009

The table below shows the difference between the market experienced in February, June and October YTD 2009.   As you can see, as 2009 progresses, the single-family housing market is slowly marching toward a healthier market.

 

Houston Market Improvement Comparison 2009 of Single-Family Homes

Market Indicator

February ‘09

June ‘09

Oct. ‘09

% Change from

June ‘09

# units sold

-24%

-20%

-11%

+81%

Dollar volume sold

-33%

-24%

-14%

+71%

Average Sales Price

-12%

-6%

-4%

+50%

Median Sales Price

-8%

-2%

-1%

+50%

# of Pending Sales

-23%

-21%

-14%

+50%

Active Listings

-20%

-22%

-21%

-.46%

A summary of October YTD market statistics compared to last year:

 

  • Sales are down from October YTD 2008 by 11% with 45,391 single-family homes.
  • Dollar volume sold is down from October YTD 2008 by 14% with $9,202,482,156.
  • Average sales price is currently $202,738, down by 4%.
  • Median sales price is $153,000, down by 1% [half of the homes sold above and half below this midpoint range.
  • # of contracts written [pending] are 31,101 and that represents 14% fewer than found last year.
  • Active listings, a metric that is good if on a decline, are currently 27,758 or 21% less than last year.  This is also a metric that in Houston is the exact opposite heard frequently in the national news.

For more detailed information, go to Prudential Gary Greene Blog


HOUSING RESCUE PROGRAM DETAILS RELEASED

March 6, 2009

– President Obama earlier this week unveiled details of his home loan aid plan designed to help millions of Americans who are at risk of losing their homes.

Administration officials say the Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan could help nearly nine million households restructure or refinance their mortgages to avoid foreclosure.

The plan includes a $75 billion homeowner stability initiative that targets at-risk homeowners, many of whom have adjustable-rate mortgages that have increased house payments to as much as 50 percent of their monthly incomes.

This initiative offers cash incentives to lenders and borrowers for working out loan modification agreements that result in lower monthly mortgage payments and allow homeowners to keep their homes. Any bank that receives federal money under the Treasury Department’s $700 billion financial rescue program will be required to take part.

Another component of the plan is intended to help as many as five million responsible homeowners who took out conforming loans owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac to refinance through those institutions.

To finance that effort, the Treasury is providing the two companies with up to $200 billion in capital on top of $200 billion that it had already pledged to them.

“This is not going to save every person’s home,” said White House spokesman Robert Gibbs. “The plan is not intended to . . . augment somebody’s loan for a house that they couldn’t afford under any economic situation, good or bad.”

According to the latest data from the Mortgage Bankers Association, nearly 12 percent of homeowners — a record 5.4 million — were at least one month late or in foreclosure at the end of last year.

New York Times/Associated Press


The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, H.R. 1 – How does it affect you, the home buyer?

February 12, 2009

The Economic Stimulus Bill (The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, H.R. 1.) has been reconciled by the House and Senate. The details of the legislation have not been finalized but we expect the legislation to include a number of important housing provisions, including the remedies for the housing crisis that NAR prescribed at the annual meeting in Orlando, Florida.

  • Homebuyer Tax Credit – a $7500 tax credit that will be available for qualified purchase of a principal residence by a first time homebuyer between January 1, 2009 and September 1, 2009.  The credit does not require repayment. Individuals who purchase in 2009 using financing assistance from state and local mortgage bonds will be permitted to use the credit, as well.
  • FHA, Fannie and Freddie Loan Limits – Revised loan limits for FHA, Freddie Mac, and Fannie Mae.  Specifics have not been released but reports indicate that the 2008 limits have been reinstated for 2009 except in those communities where the 2009 limits are higher. Additional increases in individual communities may also be available at the discretion of the HUD Secretary.
  • Foreclosure Mitigation & Neighborhood Stabilization – Funding for states and local communities to be used for neighborhood stabilization activities for the redevelopment of abandoned and foreclosed homes are authorized.

These elements of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 are the pillars of the NAR Housing Stimulus Plan presented to the 111th Congress.  Additionally we continue to work closely with the Department of Treasury and Secretary Timothy Geithner to implement a mortgage buy-down program. NAR also recommended that the Treasury Department expand the Term Asset-Backed Loan Facility (TALF) to include commercial mortgage-backed securities as eligible collateral.  The Treasury has approved this recommendation and this will encourage investment in the commercial real estate market.

The Economic Stimulus Bill (The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, H.R. 1)
Additional Housing and Other Provisions of Interest to NAR

  • Rural Housing Service – Increased funding for the Rural Housing Service direct and guaranteed loan programs.
  • Low Income Housing Grants – Allow states to trade in a portion of their 2009 low-income housing tax credits for Treasury grants to finance the construction or acquisition and rehabilitation of low-income housing, including those with or without tax credit allocations.
  • Tax Exempt Housing Bonds – Tax-exempt interest earned on specified state and local bonds issued during 2009 and 2010 will not be subject to the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT).  In addition, financial institutions will have greater capacity to purchase tax-exempt state and local bonds.
  • Energy Efficient Housing – Grants for energy retrofits for federally assisted housing (section 8), funding for Energy Efficiency & Conservation Block Grants to states, and Increases in the residential tax credit through 2010 for certain energy efficient upgrades.
  • Transportation –   Spending for upgrades and repairs of road, bridges and transit facilities.  
  • Broadband Deployment – Grants to make broadband available in unserved communities

As the leading advocate for homeowners and the real estate industry, the National Association of REALTORS will continue to address the issues facing Americans who are trying to purchase a new home, protect their current home or preserve investment opportunities in residential and commercial properties.

NAR recognizes the efforts of the members of Congress and the Senate who understand that without a housing recovery, an overall economic recovery is impossible.

 


Buying Real Estate in Houston? Yes, Virginia… its a great idea!

February 11, 2009

5-10 years from now when the financial crisis has ended and housing prices are up once more, we will look in the rear view mirror and realize that we missed the golden age for buying the dream home or being the “first time home buyer”. 

Smart people say, that moment of knowing we have hit rock bottom is only indicated by the time when everyone is the most pessimistic. That moment is certainly getting closer. 

“Smart buyers are buying now.” Why?

1.       We are in the midst of the best interest rates we have seen since we are told, the 1950’s! 4.5% is an amazing rate to lock in for 30 yrs! Jumbo loans at 7%!

2.       Sellers are watching the national news and know they are not in the driver’s seat right now so they are willing to negotiate. Even though we are not in a depressed or declining market, the sellers watch national news stories that say otherwise. Buyers can take advantage of the negative mindset of the seller right now about his property not moving fast enough.

Facts:
National employment 3rd qtr 2008, down 500,000 vs. Houston employment at 60,000 new jobs. 

Stable pricing is between 6-7 months of inventory according to A&M Research Center and Metrostudy. Same period facts of 3rd qtr. 2008, 6.5 months of new home supply in the market according to MLS and MetroStudy. 

State Resale Supply Statistics

State/City Months Supply
South Florida 28 Months
Chicago 15 Months
Atlanta and Phoenix 13 Months
Charlotte and San Diego 10 Months
Santa Fe, Albuquerque 9 months
Colorado Springs and Raleigh Durham 8 months
San Antonio 7.5 months
Dallas Forth Worth and Houston 6.5 months
Austin 5.5 months
Sacramento 5 months


I hit the largest cities and within these stats we have Raleigh and Charlotte in top 10 Recession Proof cities in the Nation and so is Houston, DFW, Austin, San Antonio but our inventory of homes is smaller.

Texas Markets 2008 through 3rd qtr. overall appreciation metrostudy
Austin: 5%
Houston: 4.4%
San Antonio: 4%
Forth Worth: 3.1%
Dallas: 2.1%

Where are you doing business?

10 year average home appreciation for Houston: 5.31%. Houston does not have the huge appreciation but it is not a depreciating market.

Multi-Market Closings for New Homes by Annual Closings

City Annual Closings
Colorado Springs less than 3,000
Santa Fe 4,000
Tampa 7,000
Denver 9,000
*Salt Lake City 11,000
*(#1 Recession proof city in the US according to Forbes Mag. 2008)
Austin 11,000
San Francisco 12,000
Raleigh/Durham 13,000
San Antonio 13,000
Las Vegas 14,000
Chicago 15,000
Charlotte 16,000
Orlando 24,000
Atlanta 25,000
Phoenix 29,000
DFW 29,000
**Houston 35,000
**Most Flourishing Market in the Nation and State with Annual New Home Closings


Texas has had and continues to have an overall escalating market.  
From 1st qtr. 2000 – Homes in Houston, San Antonio, Austin and DFW were basically selling at $200,000.

Today DFW is around $270,000; Houston is close to $300,000; While San Antonio and Austin sell at close to $310,000. Slow and Steady… 

Why Buy?

  • Affordability – Texas and specifically Houston is among the most affordable in the US
  • More choices in Houston than most other cities – single family, condo, high rises, lofts
  • The Meltdown is in Other Markets – not Texas “We have a Stable Local Market”
  • Good time to trade up – you may sacrifice on selling end but capitalize on the buying end
  • Interest Rates are affordable “right now”…we don’t know about summer or fall 09
  • Homeowners are very realistic right now about home pricing – we could say homes are “on Sale” right now!
  • Home prices in Houston and Texas are stable.
  • Houston’s economy is strong

While others in cities that have enjoyed great appreciating markets are concerned they will not be able to build equity as rapidly as they did in real estate years past, in Texas, we have never seen the high appreciating markets, we only have seen in the past 10 years, slow and steady…If you plan to stick around in your home, you will see an appreciation of your property. NAR statistics show the average first time home buyer plans to stay in their home for 10 yrs. now as compared to last year’s survey of 7 yrs. Maybe people have become more realistic about how long it takes to earn equity or maybe they have more confidence in real estate assets they can see and feel than other market assets. 

As much as we discuss appreciation, truth be known: People buy for Life style…not investment. 

You couldn’t be in a better State or better City for selling real estate. The facts are crystal clear:

  • You will have the best year ever if you believe in psychology of real estate.
  • If you tell yourself it is a bad time – it will be.
  • If you tell yourself it is a great time – it will be.
  • But the facts say, “it has been and will be a great time for real estate”.


The Most Flourishing Market in the Nation and State with Annual New Home Closings is Houston. 
Facts from MetroStudy 11/08 

Investing in real estate assets right now is the best placement of your money; it is a better hedge than gold.
Dr. Dotzour, TX A&M Research Center 1/12/09 

You couldn’t be in a better State or better City for selling real estate than Houston Texas. 
TX A&M Research Center Data 1/12/09 

More than 2 million jobs were lost between Nov 2007 – Nov 2008 in the Nation; representing 1.2 % of its labor force. The Texas economy gained 222,900 jobs during the same time period; an increase in labor force of 2.1%. 
Real Estate Center RECON 1/13/09

Houston has the strongest job market in the US. 
Metrostud, Jan. 12, 2009

Texas has the strongest job market by State in the US exceeding the nearest competition by 1000%. 
MetroStudy, Jan. 2009. 

Houston’s inventory of homes is 5-6 months on average. This is the lowest average days on market in the US. 
TX A&M Research Center Data 1/13/09 

“We are half way through our recession in Texas. It started out last Jan. 2008.” 
Dr. Dotzour, TX A&M Research Center 1/13/09 
Dr. Gilliland, A&M Research Center Jan. 12, 2009 

Texas is the #2 Destination State for Retirees. 
Dr. Gaines, TX A&M Research Center Data 1/12/09 

Houston has the most affordable median home price of any MSA. 
TX A&M Research Center Data 1/12/09.
 

“The Texas Land Sales Market is short of Phenomenal.