Date Archives: July 2017

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July
27

How to Protect Your Family from Potential Risks

Protect Your Family from Home Hazards

After many Dallas parents kiss their children good night, they lock their doors and switch on their security systems to protect their families. However, dangerous culprits could already be in their homes waiting to strike. When was the last time you tested for natural gas, carbon monoxide, radon and mold in your home? Being aware of these dangers and how to combat them can keep you and your family safe and healthy.

Click Here to Read More...

July
27

With North Texas home prices up by more than 10 percent so far this year, analysts are keeping a red flag on Dallas-Fort Worth's home market.  New York-based Fitch Ratings says that home prices in the D-FW area are 10 percent to 14 percent higher than sustainable values, according to a just-released report.  The Wall Street ratings firm has been sounding the alarm about North Texas home values for the last two years because of the pace of price increases.  

The D-FW area has seen some of the largest percentage gains in home prices in the country due to an economic boom that's driven high demand for housing and a tight supply of properties for sale.  "Dallas home prices are driven by solid income growth and low unemployment so the economy is certainly strong, but price growth is still just too fast," said Fitch's Grant Bailey.  Fitch analyzes home prices in 20 major U.S. markets for its quarterly report.

-        Dallas Morning News, July 19, 2017

July
27

Buyers in the market for a North Texas home this summer will find a couple of thousand more properties to pick from.  The bad news is that most of them are not the low and moderate-priced houses that younger and first-time buyers are hunting.  At the end of June, almost 22,000 North Texas single-family homes were listed for sale with real estate agents. That's the largest inventory of houses on the market in the Dallas-Fort Worth area in almost four years.  But a close look at the increase in property listings shows that almost all of the new inventory is homes priced at more than $300,000.  The number of North Texas houses that are on the market for less than $250,000 has dropped by almost 700 listings from a year ago, according to data from the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University and the North Texas Real Estate Information Systems.  Real estate agents say that the inventory of high-end houses up for grabs in the D-FW area is definitely moving up and that it is taking longer to sell higher-priced properties.  "There's more than a 12-month supply in the over $750,000 market," said Dr. James Gaines, chief economist with the Real Estate Center at A&M. "We are seeing a small — emphasize small — slowdown in general economy, job growth, etc. 

-        Dallas Morning News, July 25, 2017

July
26

The pace of Dallas-area home price growth cooled by a fraction in the latest measure.   Still, Dallas had one of the highest home price increases in the country, according to Standard and Poor's/Case-Shiller Home Price Index.  North Texas prices rose 7.8 percent in May from a year earlier, the closely watch report shows.  That increase ranked fourth in the country behind Seattle (13.3 percent), Portland (8.9 percent) and Denver (7.9 percent).  Nationwide home prices in May were up 5.6 percent from a year earlier.

-        Dallas Morning News, July 27, 2017.

July
22

Nextdoor, a social network that covers more than 100,000 U.S. neighborhoods, is rolling out a listing search tool and allowing agents to buy ads on the site in a handful of markets.  The new features will offer yet another pay-to-play pathway for real estate agents to new business and mark the latest push by a tech heavyweight into the industry, coming on the heels of signs that Amazon is preparing an agent referral service.

Nextdoor, which has raised over $210 million and has been valued at $1.1 billion, is testing the program in markets including the San Francisco Bay Area, San Diego, Portland, Phoenix, greater Atlanta and the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Real estate agents and brokers can sign up to pre-register for ads and eventually surface their listings on Nextdoor.  In pilot markets, users can click over to a real estate section to view listings in their neighborhood.

Listing details pages show price, property descriptions, photos and nearby listings. They also may display an ad for the home's listing agent.  "This is one of the paid products real estate agents can participate in," nextdoor.com says. "This makes it easy for members to reach out to a listing agent and learn more about some of the agents who sell homes in their local community."  The ads include an "Ask a question" button and can show endorsements by neighbors. The real estate section appears to source listings directly from brokers at the moment, rather than through syndicators.  "At this early stage, we're only inviting brokerages to participate," the website says. "Get in on the ground level by sharing this form with your broker and our team will follow up with next steps."

In contrast to ads that appear on major search portals, it looks like agents can only buy ads on their own listings.   In addition, Nextdoor is also allowing agents in select markets to buy ads that show up in local users' news feeds, daily emails and parts of its real estate section (including the top of listing search results pages).

To purchase Nextdoor's real estate ads, professionals must first create or claim a Nextdoor "Local Page" — which can represent either an individual or a business. Nextdoor advises racking up recommendations from clients and friends on local pages, so the endorsements can be noted in or appear alongside ads.   Nextdoor CEO Nirav Tolia has previously hinted at plans to introduce real estate content and advertising, in part due to the tens of thousands of inquiries from agents about marketing opportunities.

"It's information all readily available from MLSs; it's easy to get hold of — so we are thinking about, how do we match that content with the best real estate agents in the area," Tolia previously told Inman. "We are not talking about, 'here's a house for sale,' but 'here's the agent, here are some suggestions from agents who can help you buy.'"

Nextdoor communications spokesperson Kelsey Grady said that "anyone who is interested in learning more about Nextdoor for real estate should contact us at realestate@nextdoor.com," and by press time declined to elaborate further.

 

-         Inman News, July 14, 2017

July
21

Technology companies led U.S. stocks higher Wednesday in a broad rally that helped nudge the Dow Jones industrial average to a new high.  In remarks before Congress, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen raised the possibility that the central bank would consider slowing the pace of its interest rate increases if inflation remained persistently below its target level.  The move assuaged concerns among some traders worried that the Fed has been moving too quickly to raise interest rates despite a slowdown in inflation and the U.S. economy's sluggish growth of just 1.4 percent in the first quarter.  Yellen's remarks put investors in a buying mood and sent bond yields lower, stoking demand for real estate companies, utilities and other high-dividend paying stocks. Materials companies also posted hefty gains.  In her semiannual testimony before the House Financial Services Committee, Yellen said the central bank expects to keep raising a key interest rate at a gradual pace, and raised the possibility that the pace of rate hikes would be slower than previously expected should inflation remain below its target level of 2 percent annual growth.

-        AP. July 12, 2017

July
20

Surging optimism in financial markets hasn't translated into a big pickup in economic growth.  Indicators point to an economy that is entering its ninth year of steady expansion and still creating jobs at a healthy clip, but without obvious additional momentum.  President Donald Trump has set out an agenda to push economic growth well beyond the roughly 2 percent pace that has prevailed since the recession ended in 2009, but so far there is little sign of a real breakout happening.

- Wall Street Journal, July 15, 2017

July
19

The Dow continues to rise at a record pace.

The Dow continues to rise at a record pace.

Feds Say Economy Is Robust

Janet L. Yellen, the Federal Reserve Chairwoman, delivered an upbeat message on the state of the American economy to Congress on Wednesday, highlighting the strength of job growth and indicating that the Fed remained on course to begin reducing its bond holdings in the fall.  Ms. Yellen added, however, that the Fed was paying close attention to the recent weakness of inflation.  While emphasizing that she expected prices to start rising more quickly, she said persistent weakness could lead the Fed to raise interest rates more slowly.  "It's premature to reach the judgment that we're not on the path to 2 percent inflation over the next couple of years," she said.  "We're watching this very closely and stand ready to adjust our policy if it appears the inflation undershoot will be persistent."  Ms. Yellen's testimony before the House Financial Services Committee lifted stock prices and lowered bond yields on Wednesday.  Investors tend to celebrate any sign that the Fed might slow the pace of its interest-rate increases.

-        New York Times, July 12, 2017

July
18

Update: Amazon has removed the "Hire a Realtor" placeholder page referenced in this article since it published. Amazon appears to be preparing to offer consumers the option to hire real estate agents through its professional services marketplace, likely in exchange for referral fees. The service would mark the entry of yet another internet behemoth into the real estate marketing space, joining Facebook and Google as a potential source of business for agents. Amazon has a placeholder webpage that offers users the option to "Hire a Realtor." The page is indexed in Amazon's Home and Business Services section, a vendor marketplace that the company has gradually rolled out over the last two years. If the marketplace works for agents like it does for other professionals, then agents would pay referral fees to Amazon in exchange for new business.

-        Inman News, July 14, 2017

July
17

A push by builders to construct more affordable houses has fueled the largest number of North Texas home starts in more than a decade.  Dallas-Fort Worth builders started 8,812 houses in the second quarter -- the greatest quarterly building total since fourth quarter 2006, housing analyst Residential Strategies Inc. reports.

"Builders focused on house prices under $300,000 reported brisk sales throughout the quarter," Ted Wilson, principal with the Dallas-based home consultant, said. "Sales activity over $500,000 was choppy."  

Builders sold 8,244 homes in the second quarter, up almost 13 percent from a year earlier, scaling a new peak in quarterly sales since the summer of 2007.  Starts during the period were 12 percent higher from second quarter 2016 -- most of the rise in home construction came for houses priced under $300,000.  The biggest increases in starts during the quarter were in Celina, Southwest Fort Worth, Forney, Wylie, the Colony and Princeton.  With the push to build fewer expensive houses, the median price of new homes started in the area fell to $344,094, down from almost $352,000 a year earlier.

-        Dallas Morning News, July 10, 2017

July
16

Almost 40 percent of the homes sold in the Dallas area last year didn't go to owner occupants.  Instead, these properties sold to house flippers, investors, developers and builders, according to just released information from Attom Data Solutions.  "That's the highest share of purchases going to non-owners in Dallas since 2000," said Darin Bloomquist, economist with Attom Data.  "The long-term average for the city of Dallas is about 25 percent, and this was way above that average."  Nationwide about a third of home sales went to investors or other non-occupant buyers last year. 

The "A" rated markets in the Dallas area for investors are as follows:

  • Coppell
  • Colleyville
  • Southlake
  • Argyle
  • Keller
  • Flower Mound
  • Prosper
  • Celina
  • Melissa
July
15

North Texas real estate agents sold a record number of houses in June.  Last month 11,638 preowned properties changed hands in the area - up 13 percent from a year ago and the largest number ever in a single month.  Area prices also hit a high point in June. The median sales price for a single-family home was $256,000 - 8 percent ahead of where it was in June 2016, according to data from the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University and the North Texas Real Estate Information System.  Through the first six months of 2017, real estate agents have sold 51,627 houses through their multiple listing service - 5 percent more than in the first half of 2016.

"I think Dallas will set another record for all of 2017," said Dr. James Gaines, chief economist with the Real Estate Center. "The market is still very strong and it isn't backing off much if anything."  There are  signs that the huge undersupply of homes for sale in the Dallas-Fort Worth area is easing.  At the end of June there were 11 percent more houses listed for sale with agents in North Texas than a year earlier. Almost 22,000 houses were on the market.  But that still only amounts to a 2.6-month supply of preowned homes available for purchase.

-        Dallas Morning News, July 10, 2017

 

July
14

Dallas-Fort Worth apartment renters who've been pining for a slowdown in rent increases are going to have to keep waiting.  Despite near-record building activity, apartment landlords continue to dial up monthly rents in the area. During the second quarter, average D-FW apartment rents hit a new high of $1,082 a month, according to the latest data from Richardson-based RealPage.  That's a whopping 50 percent more than apartment renters had to fork out to keep a roof over their heads 10 years ago. In North Texas, rents were up more than 5 percent from mid-2016.  By comparison, nationwide apartment costs rose an average 3.6 percent during the same period.  With more than 50,000 apartments under construction in the D-FW area, industry analysts have been forecasting for over a year that tenants wouldn't be getting smacked as hard with rent rises.  But with net leasing of apartments still outpacing new project openings, apartment owners aren't shy about asking for higher rents.  "The strongest rent growth, in North Arlington, was 9.1 percent," said RealPage chief economist Greg Willett. "There are a bunch of neighborhoods that are seeing annual rent increases in the 7 to 8 percent range."  The neighborhoods with the greatest new supplies of apartments are seeing smaller rent hikes.

-        Dallas Morning News, June 30, 2017

 

July
13

Agents can cater to the trend by using new tech and serving up as much imagery and data as possible.  The proliferation of property information, imagery, neighborhood data and new technology is likely giving buyers more confidence to bid on homes without visiting them in person.  With properties selling like hotcakes, one out of three recent homebuyers made an offer on a home without seeing it in person, according to a new survey from high-tech brokerage Redfin.  The finding underscores how leveraging new marketing technology and serving up as much property data and imagery as possible can benefit agents while marking a striking generational shift toward pulling the trigger from afar.  Thirty-three percent of people who purchased a home in the last year bought the property sight-unseen, up from 19 percent last year and 21 percent two years ago, according to a survey of 11 metro areas commissioned by Redfin.  Millennials were more than three times as likely as their parents to make offers sight-unseen, with 41 percent having said they had done so, compared to 30 percent of Gen Xers and only 12 percent of baby boomers.

-        Redfin, June 30, 2017

 One-third of all homebuyers and 41% of millennial buyers made an offer on a home sight - unseen

 

July
11

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July
7

To the south of Frisco is a more organized effort against the recent surge in high-density development. Thousands signed a petition to put the city's controversial Plano Tomorrow comprehensive plan to a public vote over concerns about the number of apartments it allowed.   When the city rejected that effort, several residents pooled their money and filed suit. That lawsuit is pending.   Out of those efforts came a newly formed group called PlanoFuture.org, which backed a slate of three City Council candidates and a mayoral candidate in the May election to keep Plano suburban. Two of them won.  The group is not anti- growth, spokesman Allan Samara said. But having a city that feeds into the urban living desires popular with millennials isn't good either. 

"There's an apartment building bubble going on in America, and we need it moderated in our town," said Samara, who started a business in Plano in 1982 and moved there in 2011.  He pointed to a recently built complex at Preston Road and Plano Parkway, where hundreds of apartments have sprouted up in what's already a congested area.   "They put too many apartments in too tight a space in too high a density," Samara said. "We want them to stop."

-        Dallas Morning News, June 30, 2017

July
6

Four brand new Frisco schools scheduled to open next month will remain closed until August 2018 due to lack of funds to pay hundreds of new teachers.   Surrounding schools may be overcrowded this year with the delay of one year on these four new schools.  The schools are Memorial High School, Lawler Middle School, Talley Elementary and Liscano Elementary.

Keeping that close-knit feeling in Frisco is becoming increasingly difficult as some residents push back against the rampant growth.  In Frisco ISD, one of the fastest growing school districts in the nation, voters rejected a 13-cent property tax rate hike last August to help fund operations. This tax ratification election was an effort to recoup losses in state funding. But critics believed the district was asking for more money that it needed. Many didn't want the higher tax bills.   Community members and district staff spent months figuring out how to make do with the revenue available. Among the tough choices: keeping four new schools closed for a year rather than pay for the added staff to operate them. The district also passed along some costs to parents, such as parking fees for high school drivers and annual fees for athletic participation. 

-        Dallas Morning News, June 30, 2017

July
5

For years, top civic and elected officials across Collin County have boasted about their top-quality schools, family-friendly communities and vast expanses of open land ripe for development.   Their efforts have attracted people in droves. Since 2000, Collin County's population has grown nearly 90 percent. If that pace continues, the county could double its current population before 2035 and exceed the populations of Dallas and Tarrant counties by 2050. 

Developing all the available land is still decades away. But growing pains are an annoying reality now for many Collin residents, whether they're feeling overrun by high-density developments, struggling with higher property taxes or getting stuck in traffic.   Some are speaking out against the boom. Others are resistant to policy decisions that attract even more people. As the explosive growth continues,  community leaders are trying to balance the needs of newcomers with maintaining the quality of life for existing residents.  They're finding out that not everyone sees increases in people and development as a good thing.

Collin County growth

The population grew by 59 percent between 2000 and 2010 and by nearly 90 percent between 2000 and 2017.

2000 Census

2010 Census

2016 Estimate

2017 Estimate

491,675

782,341

901,170

932,530

SOURCE: North Central Texas Council of Governments

-        Dallas Morning News, June 30, 2017

July
1

Seattle, Portland and Dallas are leading the country in home price gains since last spring, with no slowdown in sight.  Dallas-area home prices rose 8.4 percent in the latest Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller Home Price Index.  Nationwide, prices in April were 5.5 percent higher from a year earlier.  North Texas home prices are at an all-time high and have risen by more than 50 percent in the last five years.  "As home prices continue rising faster than inflation, two questions are being asked: why? And, could this be a bubble?" S&P's David M. Blitzer said in the report. "Since demand is exceeding supply and financing is available, there is nothing right now to keep prices from going up.  Through the first five months of 2017, prices of North Texas homes sold by real estate agents have jumped 12 percent higher than the same period last year.  The median sales price for preowned single-family homes in the area is $255,000 — slightly ahead of the national median price for the first time.

Metropolitan Area

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