Katy Real Estate Appraisals: Getting Them Right

By National Association of Realtors 2012 Vice President Gary Thomas

While the real estate market is certainly started on the road to recovery, there are still a few hurdles that are preventing it from gathering steam.  These include tight credit and uncertainty about the rules and regulations governing the mortgage market.

A recently released NAR survey found that issues with appraisals are also holding back home sales.

Appraisals are a vital part of the real estate transaction.  Most appraisers work hard to provide accurate valuations that comply with the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice.

However, appraisals generally lag market conditions and some changes to the appraisal process have caused difficulty.  These include use of out-of-area evaluators, inappropriate comparisons and excessive lender demands.  Also, before the beginning of last year, some lenders’ loan Read the rest of this entry »

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Pricey Katy Rentals Reflect Tight Market

Nationwide, more than 20 million households spent over 30 percent of their income last year on rent. In fact, more than half of those renters spent at least half their income on housing, “severely burdening” their finances. This information is from Realtor Magazine and USA Today.

Demand has surged for rental homes as many prior homeowners have lost their homes to short sales and foreclosures. Credit repair is a lengthy process. The other factor is the very tight lending environment which precludes many families from realizing the American dream of home ownership.

In the past few years, median rents have soared almost 20%. In Katy, one is hard pressed to find a reasonable property for less than $900 a month. Properties on the southside of I-10 are next to impossible to find below $1100 per month. With a shortage in homes for lease, landlords are requiring reasonable credit scores, good rental history and steady employment. Criminal background checks are also done on a prospective tenant. It is not unusual for a new rental property to receive multiple applications shortly after it goes on the market.

According to HAR MLS data, leases accounted for 35% of Houston area residential real estate transactions last year. In 2011, rentals accounted for a little bit above 50% of all real estate Read the rest of this entry »

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Houston Homes Sell Briskly for Sixteen Straight Months!

Houston-area property sales have now held firmly to positive territory for 16 straight months, and September’s flurry of home buying caused a further drawdown of inventory and hike in prices. While monthly sales volume eased a bit compared to August, there was enough activity to lower available housing inventory to levels not seen since March 2002.

According to the latest monthly data prepared by the Houston Association of REALTORS® (HAR), single-family home sales rose 8.7 percent compared to September 2011. Contracts closed on 5,014 homes in September, driving inventory down to 4.7 months. Only the low end of the housing market experienced a drop in sales.

“Demand for homes throughout Houston continues to outpace supply as we transition into the fall season,” said Wayne A. Stroman, HAR chairman and CEO of Stroman Realty. “Home sales traditionally begin to taper off this time of year, so we are not worried about inventory declining to unhealthy levels. For those considering selling a home, current market conditions present excellent opportunities, and with interest rates falling to new Read the rest of this entry »

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Houston Veterans: The Wonderful World of VA Home Loans, Part Three


I hope you enjoyed Parts One and Two of this series on VA Home Loans and have found it helpful. For those who have served and sacrificed for our great country, this is a terrific, grossly under-utilized, program and one you should not overlook in your pursuit of the American Dream: Home Ownership.

In today’s article, we will cover a variety of points to sum up what makes a property a good candidate for a VA Home Loan and other details. I hope to tie up the loose ends. Again, when you begin to explore VA Loans, contact me for a fabulous lender referral; it is imperative that you work with an expert who specializes in VA funding. My number is 713-818-2404.

What are the VA minimum property requirements? The VA Appraiser is looking to ensure that the house is “safe, sound and sanitary”. If there are defective conditions such as cracks in the floor or walls that could indicate foundation issues, a structural engineering report will be mandatory.

All utilities must be on and the systems functioning properly. This covers electricity, gas and water. The heating system must be in place and functional; this is not negotiable.

If there is a well or septic system, both will require testing and inspection. Not all inspectors cover these systems, you will need to inquire when interviewing inspectors as these are systems that usually exist primarily in rural areas.

Any active termites must be treated. Conditions “conducive to” termites must be corrected. High voltage power lines cannot impact the structure. Read the rest of this entry »

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Home Buyers Keep the Houston Real Estate Market Humming in August

[youtube width=”350″ height=”283″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Emd5RASU5QU[/youtube]

August marked the 15th consecutive month of positive home sales across the greater Houston area, with single-family homes selling at the greatest one-month volume since August 2007. Buyers gobbled up enough properties to drive inventory down to a level last seen more than 10 years ago.

According to the latest monthly data prepared by the Houston Association of REALTORS® (HAR), single-family home sales jumped 20.0 percent compared to August 2011. Contracts closed on 6,600 homes in August, sending inventory falling to 4.9 months.

“August rounds out an extremely prosperous summer for the Houston real estate market,” said Wayne A. Stroman, HAR chairman and CEO of Stroman Realty. “As we saw in July, homes sold well in every pricing category, but particularly the higher end, which contributed to another boost in home prices. Further growth in local employment and low interest rates continue to make Houston attractive to home buyers.”

The single-family home average price increased 4.0 percent year-over-year to $224,464, the highest level for an August in Houston. Read the rest of this entry »

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Mortgage Interest Deduction is a Middle Class Pillar

Eliminating or curtailing the mortgage interest deduction would have a disproportionate impact on younger, middle-class families, who would see their ability to become owners significantly diminished, with sober implications for their longer term financial prospects, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) told Congress today. 

“How housing is treated in any future tax reform will shape the economy going forward,” Robert Dietz, an economist and assistant vice president for NAHB, testified during a Senate Finance Committee hearing on tax reform options to provide incentives for homeownership. 

Most Americans consider homeownership to be their single best long-term investment and a primary source of wealth and financial security. According to the 2007 Federal Reserve Survey of Consumer Finances, the median net worth of a home owner is $234,600, compared to $5,100 for renters. 

“We believe that any policy change that makes it harder to buy a home, or delays the purchase of the home until an older age, will have a significant long-term impact on household wealth accumulation and the make-up of the middle class as a whole,” said Dietz.  Read the rest of this entry »

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The Five Secrets of Buying a Katy Foreclosure From a Certified Foreclosure/Short Sale Specialist

Cinco Ranch Foreclosure --$224,900

Westfield Foreclosure-$115,900

Foreclosed and foreclosing properties dominate many of today’s U.S. real estate markets–more than four years after the sharpest observers saw the market shift coming, and more than two years after the reality hit home for millions of American home owners.

While Katy is not suffering like other areas of the country, the number of foreclosures in our hometown has grown substantially. (Pictured above are two foreclosures  currently on the market.)

First-time home buyers make up almost half of all buyers of bank-owned foreclosures and soon-to-be foreclosed short sale properties. They’re followed closely by investors seeking rental properties, and a third important group—homeowners who find they can move up to a bigger or better home they previously could not afford.

The truth is: These markets demand most of the same things an ordinary Read the rest of this entry »

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HAR MLS September Market Report: Houston and Katy Real Estate


September brought the Houston housing market its third straight month of declining sales volume following the expiration of the homebuyer tax credit. However, despite the drop, pricing continued to demonstrate strength with a boost in the average price and a slight uptick in the median price of single-family homes.

According to the latest monthly data compiled by the Houston Association of REALTORS® (HAR), September sales of single-family homes throughout the Houston market fell 18.6 percent compared to September 2009. Declines were recorded in three of the five pricing segments.

The average price of a single-family home rose 5.0 percent from September 2009 to $215,250, primarily due to continued strength in the upper end of the market. The September single-family home median price—the figure at which half of the homes sold for more and half sold for less—edged up 0.2 percent from one year earlier to $156,250. Both average and median pricing achieved the highest levels for a September in Houston.

Foreclosure property sales reported in the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) declined 6.9 percent in September compared to one year earlier. The median price of September foreclosure sales slid 5.2 percent to Read the rest of this entry »

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National Association of Realtors: Halting Foreclosures Could be Hindrance to Economic Recovery

Katy TX Foreclosures

Thousands of first-time and move-up buyers who hoped to make a foreclosed property their new home now face uncertainty, anxiety and possibly remorse as they worry that closing on their desired property could be in jeopardy.

For many, the dream of homeownership could turn into agony if their home purchase is indefinitely delayed by a moratorium on foreclosures declared by some banks, the National Association of Realtors® said today. The moratoriums are needed, banks say, to review all of the foreclosures in their portfolios to make sure they’re in compliance with the law and that titles are clear.

NAR warned that a prolonged review process would have a damaging impact on many communities and hinder the nation’s economic recovery.

“As the leading advocate for homeownership issues, we understand that many lenders need a time-out to review their actions to ensure that homeowners are not improperly foreclosed on and that the lenders are following regulations and state laws. After that, the foreclosure process must resume quickly to return stability to families, the housing market and the economy,” said NAR President Vicki Cox Golder, owner of Vicki L. Cox & Associates, Tucson, Ariz.

Over the past few months NAR has met with officials of top banks to discuss market issues. NAR urged banking leaders to seek resolution quickly through loan modifications and the short-sale process rather than through foreclosure. “We stand ready to help lenders develop better short-sale Read the rest of this entry »

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