Houston Real Estate Market Condition Report – January 2008

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Sometimes known as the Bayou City or Space City, Houston, Texas was founded in 1836 and named after General Sam Houston. With a population of close to 2 million, it’s reported to be the 4th largest city in the United States. The city has been a dynamic center of business since the early 1900s and is also the leader in space technology, being home to NASA and the Johnson Space Center. The port area is thriving and connected to the city by the Houston Ship Channel. Other well known areas are Interstate 10’s Energy Corridor, the Galleria, and the world class Texas Medical Center. Houston’s feel is diverse, with both a high rise skyline and waterways like the Buffalo Bayou, which winds through the city.

Downtown Houston has recently been transformed into a dynamic area of the city known for both entertainment and residential living. Many new lofts and townhomes have been built in and near downtown.  Other buildings have been converted from commercial to residential use.

Houston has major league football, baseball, basketball (men’s and women’s), soccer teams, and AHL hockey. It also has separate horse (in the northwest area of Houston) and greyhound racing (in the southern portion of Houston) tracks.

For the theatre lovers, Houston is one of the few cities that has permanent ballet, orchestra, opera, and theatre companies.

Houston real estate offers most everything you could possibly desire.

Note: Due to the large volume of homes sold, I usually need two months to compile data. So in January, I’ll be using November data, obtained from the Houston Association of Realtors (HAR).

To date, the mortgage company and loan problems you have been reading about have affected Houston real estate much less than most other areas of the country. Although total home sales decreased in November by 10.2%, the average sales prices increased over last year. The median price which is a price where half the homes sold for more and half sold for less was $150,000, a 1.7 % increase from November 2006. The average sales price was $205,815. This is a 6.4% increase over last year’s value.

Townhomes and condo sales were up in price but lower in number over last year. In November 2007, 489 units were sold at an average sale price of $162,371. This is a 3.6 % increase in price over November 2006, but a 10.8 % decrease in number sold.

In closing, the Houston real estate market is still stronger in pricing than other areas of the country, although the foreclosures and sub prime lending problems appear to have affected us all.  During recent years, you have been able to purchase a home for less in Houston than in comparison to many other cities . . . and the value has increased. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), Houston’s current median sales price for a single family home is 27.1 % less than the national average. We are on pace for the second best year on record. This indicates the great value of living in Houston.

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Houston Heights Real Estate Market Condition Report – January 2008

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The Houston Heights real estate area is a historical neighborhood. The area has a mixture of bungalow, Victorian homes, and new construction (as well as some industrial and commercial property).  It was originally established as a planned community in the late 1890s. The location was partially chosen because it was 23 feet higher than downtown Houston, located 4 miles away. In 1918, Houston Heights residents voted for annexation from the city of Houston, Texas.

The single family home market in the Houston Heights consists of older Victorian era homes, older bungalows, and new construction. Many of the older homes have been remodeled.  Over 100 Houston Heights structures are registered in the National Register of Historical Places. The newer construction consists of everything from contemporary designs to Victorian style homes.

There are approximately 3500 single family homes in the Houston Heights with an average sales price per sq. ft. of $164 in 2006. Since 1994, this figure has increased every year. The values were $150/sq ft.in 2004 and 156 in 2005. These figures were obtained from the Houston Association of Realtors (HAR) Multiple Listing Service, as are the other figures cited in this article.

 There are currently 144 single family homes for sale in the Houston Heights real estate area ranging from a 3 bed/1 bath, 1200 sq. ft. home in need of repair on a 4323 sq. ft. lot listed for $135,000 to a 1925 property currently configured as an inn with 5600 sq. ft. and a 2600 sq. ft. carriage house on a 11,250 sq. ft lot and priced at $1,575,000. The average list price per sq. ft. is $191.99. Many of the homes for sale are new construction ones on small lots. However, there are a good selection of older homes. Another 33 homes are under contract as of 1/17/2008 but haven’t closed yet.

In November 2007 there were 28 single family homes sold at prices ranging from $170,000 to $850,000 with an overall average sales price per sq. ft. value of $187.25.

In December 2007, 25 single family homes sold at prices from a low of $166,800 for a nice 2 bed/ 2 bath,1190 sq. ft. home on a 3275 sq. ft.lot to a high of $1,075,000 for a 1918 historically restored, 4249 sq. ft., 5 bed/ 3.5 bath home on a 12,767 sq. ft. lot. The overall average sales price per sq. ft. was $173.70.

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Meyerland Real Estate Market Condition Report – January 2008

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Meyerland, a residential neighborhood in Houston, Texas is situated on the banks of the Brays Bayou at the outer southwest corner of Loop 610, just south of Bellaire. Just a 15-minute drive (or less) to downtown Houston, the Texas Medical Center, the Galleria, and the Reliant Park complex, the Meyerland community boasts excellent accessibility, beautiful parks, and strong community leaders. Meyerland real estate single family homes range in price from the mid $100,000’s (usually lot value) to the $1,000,000’s.  Some of the homes are the original 1950s bungalows, while others are new construction occupied by homeowners who like Meyerland’s ease and convenience.

Meyerland is the concept of three generations of the Meyer family. In the late 1800’s, Joseph F. Meyer began buying land in the southwest part of the area surrounding Houston.  Eventually he accumulated 6,000 acres for which he paid less than $5 per acre. In the mid-1950’s Joseph’s son, George, saw the possibilities of a prestigious subdivision.  After his father’s death, son George took the 1,200 acres he inherited and created the subdivision neighborhood of Meyerland with 2,700 lots and an 80-acre reserve for a shopping center. George Meyer proceeded to develop homes that were affordable enough to attract middle America. Look magazine called Meyerland a “state-of-the-art neighborhood” while House and Home magazine claimed it was the “ideal plan for a subdivision”.   Meyerland might be called Houston’s first planned community due to the fact that Meyer held to stringent deed restrictions and strong architectural controls for its development. Characteristic of Meyerland are brick, contemporary styled homes . . . each offering three to four bedrooms with two baths, which was an uncommon feature at the time they were built.
 
Meyerland Plaza Shopping Center was opened in 1957 as Houston’s second regional malland was managed by George Meyer’s oldest daughter, Leota Meyer Hess. The third generation of the Meyer family sold the center in 1984. After years of neglect, in the mid-90s it was purchased and renovated by a new owner. The revival of Meyerland Plaza brought 927,000 square feet of new shopping space to Meyerland and the plaza now includes a variety of 50 shops and restaurants, several of which opened spring 2005.
 
Meyerland has Houston Independent School District (HISD) Exemplary schools and is zoned to nationally acclaimed Bellaire High School. Zoned neighborhood elementary schools include Kolter Elementary School and Lovett Elementary School, both located in Meyerland. The neighborhood is also served by Johnston Middle School(located in Meyerland), Pershing Middle School(located in Braeswood Place), and Pin Oak Middle Schoolwhich is located in the city of Bellaire.  Pupils zoned to Johnston or Pershing have the option to attend Pin Oak.  Bellaire High School is located in the southern portion of the city of Bellaire.

The Houston Public Library system operates the Meyer Branch Library at 5005 W. Bellfort, which serves the Meyerland community.

2006 was a good year for homeowners in Meyerland as they saw 109 properties sold ranging in price from$197,000 up to $1,150,000 with an average sales price of $368,966 or $133.73 per square foot showing a definite upward trend. These figures are based on data collected from the Houston Association of Realtors (HAR).

Meyerland residents continue to enjoy increased property values as reflected in the following data provided by the Houston Association of Realtors (HAR). There were 89 single family homes sold in 2007 with prices ranging from $200,000 to $1,000,000 averaging $144.73 per square foot. The wide range reflects the new construction. However, the majority of homes are 3 to 4 bedrooms, 2 baths between 2000 and 3000 sq. ft.

Currently, there are 45 active available homes for sale in Meyerland with list prices ranging from $239,900 to $1,150,000. There are 8 properties pending sale with prices ranging from $288,000 to $925,000.

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Montrose Real Estate Market Condition Report – January 2008

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Originally pronounced as if it were two words, that is, “Mont Rose”,  the Montrose real estate area is generally bound by Highway 59 to the south, Allen Parkway to the north, Bagby Street on the east and Shepherd to the west. It is a neighborhood located near the downtown area of Houston, Texas.  The Museum District is located in the southern portion of Montrose. You will find that many bars & restaurants, thrift/vintage/second-hand shops, eclectic boutiques and small galleries maintain the unique flavor of this part of the city.

Initially envisioned as a planned community and/or streetcar suburb and dating back to the early 20th Century, Montrose comes with the most distinctive character of eccentricity and diversity in Houston. It is one of the prettiest areas displaying renovated mansions, bungalows featuring wide porches and cozy cottages lining shady boulevards where people can walk and cycle easily. There is even a small pocket of homes called Courtland Place where all of the houses are listed in the National Historic Registry. Other surrounding neighborhoods include Westmoreland, Avondale and Cherryhurst, all generating a Southern, cozy atmosphere. Townhouse/Condos and Lofts are very prevalent in the Montrose area as well.

The Montrose area residents continue to enjoy increased property values as reflected in the following data provided by the Houston Association of Realtors (HAR). There were 121 single family homes sold in 2007. Prices ranged from $105,000 to $890,000; averaging $171.51 per square foot.

There were 167 town house/condos sold in the Montrose real estate market area during this same period.  Prices ranged from $43,000 to $646,000 for an average of $135.77 per square foot.

Currently there are 59 active available single family homes for sale in Montrose.  List prices range from $249,000 to $1,075,000 and 13 properties pending sale with prices ranging from $240,000 to $575,000.

There are 102 active available town house/condos in the Montrose market area. Prices range from $87,500 to $749,900 Twenty (20) properties are reported as pending sale. The prices range from $80,000 up to $369,900.
 

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Bellaire Real Estate Market Condition Report – January 2008

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Bellaire, Texas which is located on the east and west sides of Interstate Loop 610 West, is surrounded by Houston and a number of subdivisions including West University Place, Southside Place, Meyerland, Willow Meadows, and Afton Oaks. It’s a very short distance to the Galleria, Reliant Stadium, downtown Houston, the Theater District, and the Texas Medical Center.

Bellaire is zoned for residential, commercial, and light industrial sections. The city is well known as a “city of homes”.  It is well-liked for its police and fire protection, parks and recreation facilities, library, public works department, and recycling center.

According to information that I reviewed on Houston Association of REALTORS Multiple Listing Service (HAR), Bellaire real estate is currently offering 131 single family residential homes on the market priced from $239,900 for a 967 sq. ft., 2 bed/1 bath home on a 6125 sq. ft. lot located close to the railroad tracks to a high of $2,649,000 for a 7500 sq. ft., 5 bedroom/ 4 full, 2 half bath planned new construction home on a 18,900 sq. ft. lot. The average list price per sq ft is $240.70. Fifty four are for sale for over $1,000,000 and 25 homes are priced at $400,000 or less. As of 01/17/2008 there are an additional 17 homes pending under contract priced from $256,900 to $1,999,500.

During the month of November 2007, 12 single family homes closed with sale prices ranging from $272,000 to $1,100,000.

In December 2007, 12 sales closed with an average sales price per average sq. ft. of $207.69. The low sales price was $232,000 for a 3 bed/1 bath, 1256 sq. ft. “livable condition” home on a 8470 sq. ft. lot. The highest reported sales price was $1,680,000 for a 5 bed/5.5 bath/ 3 car garage home built in 2006 on a 13050 sq. ft. lot.

Presently, there are reported to be 6 townhomes actively on the market, priced from $220,000 to $299,688. The average list price per sq ft is $142.62. Three are sale pending and one was sold in December 2007 for $260,000.

New constructionin Bellaire is still strong and the prices are increasing due to rising building costs and lot prices. For the most part, construction in Bellaire originated in the late 40’s and 50’s. Many of these original homes have been and continue to be purchased at lot value.  The older homes are being replaced with larger, new construction homes.

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Our Dream Log Cabin – Footings & Water Seepage – 9/7/07

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Footings & water seepage -001

Sometimes you have a major “hiccup” . . . and we definitely had one!  The log cabin that we’re building at Artesian Lakes in Romayor, Texas has been a learning experience since we decided that we wanted to build our second home.

The workmen are digging out the square holes for concrete footings for the log cabin.

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Some of the square holes for the porch are 2.5 feet wide, while the others for the main cabin are 4 feet square.  The size was determined by the engineers so that there will be enough strength to support the weight of the house.  While this home is being built on mostly sand, there is a little clay in the mix.

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The holes which have been dug in this picture are the smaller ones.  The footings here will support the covered deck.

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Here is another hole depicting a clay presence . . . which is a “good thing”.

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A tool was used to drill out some of the dirt for the square footings.  Then the holes were further shaped by hand.

Footings & water seepage

The ground was spray painted so the workmen could tell where to place the footings.

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Again, this picture shows how the holes were partially drilled out before the workmen hand shaped the square holes.

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House footings in comparison to one of the footings that hit water.

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This is where we had our first big “hiccup”.  The majority of the holes were dug.  Then we hit water.  This is a major problem when you’re putting in footings.  We had to stop operations altogether.  It was time to contact the engineer to find out what to do next.

Long story short . . . we could no longer put in footings.  We had to completely redo the foundation plan.

Bottom line learning experience . . . make sure your engineers actually go to the property and actually look at the relief of the place you intend to build.  It will help them tremendously in figuring the right kind of foundation.  No assumptions can be made then.  The architectural engineers should not rely solely on the soil samples.  Only 2 soil samples were taken on this site.  Neither were on the low side of the building site.

This was a very costly mistake.  Please learn from our experience.  We don’t want it to happen to anybody else.

Anyway, we shut down operations for about a month while the architectural engineer redesigned the foundation.  The new design called for 35′ and 40′ pilings to be driven into the ground. Yes, I’m talking feet and not inches.  I”ll update you more when I have more time to continue this picture story.

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Our Log Cabin Dream – Foundation Layout – 9/4/07

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Foundation Layout 006

Our log cabin will be located in Romayer, Texas at Artesian Lakes.   Jim and I call our building site Zoller Point since it is on a point with the lake on a little more than two sides. This will be a second home for us.

The site was leveled at an angle so that rain would runoff toward the lake.  I insisted on keeping my little hill in the top right of the picture.  Right now I have a bench up there so I can sit and watch what goes on.

Foundation Layout 005

 This area was cleared of underbrush so that we can have a place to set the logs, lumber, trucks, cranes, etc. when they come to the location.  One of the workmen is at the northeast corner of the future cabin.

Foundation Layout 004

 Lines are being run to show the perimeter of the cabin.  The boards depict the southeast corner of the cabin.

Foundation Layout 003

More lines are being squared off for the foundation.  And yes . . .that is water in the middle of the picture.

Foundation Layout 002

The lines are surveyed and the orange paint will be used to mark the location for the piers.

Foundation Layout 001

One of the workmen is assisting in the foundation layout on the northeast corner of the cabin.

I can’t believe work is actually starting!  We’ve waited for so long. 

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