New Listing in Riverpark West!

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Don’t miss this wonderful one story, 4 bedroom Perry home! Open floor plan with high ceilings and lots of natural light. Perfect for formal entertaining in the large dining room or casual under the airy 20’x9′ covered patio. The beauty and quality of this home is enhanced with crown molding, a lovely fireplace, recessed lighting, updated light fixtures in bathrooms, and fresh paint in the kitchen and bathrooms. 2 car garage with 5ft extension. Conveniently located off 59 and 99. Call today!

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Making a stately statement

 The ultimate Houston fixer-upper!

By Nancy Sarnoff
Couple shares grand vision for once-grand Weingarten estate along Brays Bayou

   Last summer when Darryl and Lori Schroeder purchased their $2.25 million fixer-upper in Riverside Terrace, the grounds were lush and the trees that had been growing for decades were full and filled with birds. With the sun at a certain angle, a visitor could see beyond the aging white brick and envision the grand estate once perched on these five acres along Brays Bayou in a Houston neighborhood formerly known as the “Jewish River Oaks.”   

Six months later, frigid weather has left some of the trees barren and the grass more brown. The house, too, is a shell, stripped of most of the remnants left by its former owners. Worn carpets have been pulled out and rotten boards have been replaced, as the home sits poised for a real estate renewal unlike anything seen here before.   

“There’s something really important about this project,” said David Bucek, the architect handling the restoration. “It’s captured the imagination of a lot of folks.”   

The Schroeders, who bought the Weingarten mansion last year and vowed to save it from demolition, said their vision for the property includes living in the home as well as using it for charitable functions.

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Region’s housing market cools off

 Phew, finally a reprieve from the frenzy! This is good news for buyers. If you’ve been waiting or just got out bid last year, now is a great time to buy. However, prices are not dropping in Houston because demand is still high and interest rates are on the rise again and are expected (really this time) to continue to increase.

By Nancy Sarnoff
Values are still going up, but sales decline as oil prices continue slump

   After a long stretch as one of the nation’s hottest housing markets, Houston was hit with its biggest drop in home sales since last spring, showing new weakness among expensive homes, the segment that propelled home prices to record levels in 2014.   

Sales of single-family homes declined 5.8 percent in February compared with the same time a year ago, the Houston Association of Realtors said Wednesday. The last significant drop in sales occurred in May, when housing demand fueled by $100 oil collided with a shortage of available homes.   

Since then, a free fall in crude prices has forced spending cuts and layoffs at the biggest energy companies in town, whose prosperity helped drive the recent housing boom. But even as demand softens around what’s expected to be a slower stretch of economic growth this year, analysts aren’t predicting an all-out crash for Houston’s real estate market.   

“We’re not in for a housing bust,” said Barton Smith, professor emeritus of economics at the University of Houston.   

What’s more likely, he said, is a cooling of the feverish market. For now, prices aren’t expected to fall, but they also won’t come close to matching the recent gains many homeowners experienced over the last few years.

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School Ratings Effect on Home Values – Does it Matter?

As homeowners in Lake Olympia, we recently had a concern about being rezoned to a different high school. Why so much concern?

As a realtor I know that many families with children “shop schools” when buying a new home. A recent study done by Redfin.com found, “In the United States, housing prices in the zones of highly ranked public schools are remarkably higher than those served by lower ranked schools.” This is not a secret to most of us, but the amount of difference even surprised the folks at Redfin.

Let’s look at home price data in a few local school zones and compare it to their school academic rating. In my own “mini study” I used the average square foot price of homes 2500 to 3500sqft sold in December 2014, zoned to each school listed below.

School           State Academic Test Results 2014      Avg. Home Price per SQFT                                       (TAKS and STAAR)

Clements HS                    98%                               $132

Elkins HS                          85%                               $125

Hightower HS                   75%                               $71

Willow Ridge HS               61%                               $97

First Colony MS                91%

Lake Olympia MS             68%

Colony Bend Elem.           89%

Palmer Elem.                    79%

The average sales price in Lake Olympia in December 2014 was $102 per sqft (2500 to 3500sqft). Now I realize my science here is not too exact. But, for the purpose of this discussion, I wanted to keep it simple.

So, do school ratings have an effect on home values? I think the conclusion is “yes”. (Willow Ridge HS zone includes new homes in the Fort Bend portion of Shadow Creek Ranch. Currently there is movement among the parents there to be removed from FBISD and moved into the PISD.) Lake Olympia MS has had low academic scores for many years now, which has had a strong influence on our home values.

For more information on this subject, go to:

http://redf.in/17Bzlks

http://bit.ly/1At2n06

http://wapo.st/1rU3zFt

ACCIDENTAL HOUSTONIANS

Newcomers to Houston many times do not know what to expect. Most are pleasantly surprised about what they find.

 

For people who didn’t plan on life in Bayou City, it’s panning out as land of opportunity    10 months here washes away Texas stereotypes
By St. John Barned-Smith

   I’d just crossed the state line on Interstate 10 when I saw the sign that stuns East Coast drivers heading to Houston.   

El Paso: 857 miles.   

Head west that same distance from New England, say, from Providence, R.I., and you pass through five states, landing just east of Elkhart, Ind.   

That was 10 months ago.   

I’d never imagined I’d end up in Houston. I’m a dyed-in-the-wool Bostonian, sprung from those puking Pilgrims on the Mayflower.   

Like so many before me, I came here for a job, and I had no clue what to expect when I got here.   

Guns, cacti and tumbleweeds immediately came to mind. I remembered reading the newspaper one day when Boston was still buried under a foot of snow, marveling at Houston’s late-spring temperatures.   

I’d heard talk of jobs and the economy, and of a city with no zoning.   

Dodge Chargers and Ford F-150s flew down I-10 as I trundled along in my tiny Civic, a nerves-jangling experience.   

Then, Houston, a web of pavement, a miasma of humidity and heat, a teeming jumble of life and sound and smells and so much more.   

I settled into a cheap apartment off Bissonnet, bought a bed. I discovered Killen’s barbecue, Shipley Do-Nuts and queso flameado.   

And though I liked to tease my co-workers about this vast, new place I’d found myself in, it grew on me, muscle cars and all.   

Since that jarring moment almost a year ago, I’ve met a suburban sheriff who moved here from Wisconsin, refugees who came from Nepal, and immigrants from Scotland and India and Mexico and every other seeming corner of the world. And that barely scratches the surface.

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Area gains jobs, but figures ahead are a big concern

Will oil prices affect Houston’s job growth? In 2014, 120,600 new jobs where created. This article quotes an estimate of 40,000 for 2015.

Over the past year, local employers added 120,600 positions, but that was before oil prices hit the skids
By L.M. Sixel

 

   The Houston area closed out 2014 strongly as local employers created 120,600 new jobs over the past year.   

But in many ways that is yesterday’s news as economic observers are more nervously focused on the months ahead, waiting to see the ramifications of energy companies axing jobs and trimming hiring of college graduates.   

“2015 will be a year of significantly less growth,” said Barton Smith, professor emeritus of economics at the University of Houston.   

“I will tell you there are a lot of people who are quite worried about a repeat of the early 1980s,” he added, referring to the years when the local economy was in tatters because of low oil prices and excess real estate.    While Smith, and others, still don’t foresee a similar crash — in part because office and residential real estate isn’t overbuilt as it was in the 1980s — he predicted Houston will surely lose energy jobs this year. He is still gathering data for estimates but said he believed energy-related losses will be in the neighborhood of 40,000 jobs, which include exploration and production as well as energy-related durable goods manufacturing and wholesale trade.    The picture, though, isn’t all bad, as other sectors are expected to keep adding jobs to keep up with Houston’s increase in population. That includes health care, education and retail, which have lagged and are working to catch up to local growth.

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