County honored for innovative, money-saving juvenile defense program

GideonAwardFor immediate release Dec. 23, 2013

For media follow up, please contact Jim Fredricks at (936) 520-6098.

Montgomery County recently was honored by a state commission for its work to provide representation for indigent juvenile defendants, leading to reduced county costs for juvenile detention and better outcomes for the juveniles themselves, according to officials.
The Texas Indigent Defense Commission recently honored Montgomery County with its Gideon award; one of several local governments across Texas honored for meeting high standards for indigent defense. Counties are recognized based on how well their programs meet the principles of the Fair Defense Act and the American Bar Association’s Ten Principles of a Public Defense Delivery System.
Precinct 2 County Commissioner Craig Doyal was one of several county officials invited to go to Austin to receive the award. He was one of the members of the court who voted to launch the program nearly three years ago. Also present at the award presentation were 284th state District Judge Cara Wood, 359th state District Judge Kathleen Hamilton, County Court-at-Law No. 4 Judge Mary Ann Turner, Director of Juvenile Detention Ron Leach, Juvenile Board Member and Judge Olen Underwood, and attorneys Bill Patillo and Chris Allen, two of three attorneys with whom the county contracted for the service. The third attorney is Carolyn Atkinson.
The program, in which the county has contracted with three attorneys to provide legal representation to indigent juvenile defendants, has been good for both taxpayers and juveniles, said Doyal, a candidate for county judge in the GOP March primary in 2014.
“They’ve done a great job in representing the indigent youth of our county, and they’ve done it at great savings to the taxpayers,” Doyal said.
The Contract Defender attorneys provide representation for indigent juvenile defendants in Montgomery County. If the juvenile qualifies for appointed counsel, the program attorney is assigned prior to the detention hearing.
According to a press release from the commission, the contracted indigent defense program is a one-year contract approved by the Juvenile Board for the Montgomery County, and attorney fees are paid by Montgomery County. After the initial award of the contract in 2011, the same attorneys have been awarded the contract in the subsequent years.
But according to Doyal and officials familiar with the program, the county’s expenditure on the program has yielded taxpayers savings well in excess of the expense.
According to data from the county provided for the award submission, the number of days juveniles have spent at taxpayer expense in the county’s juvenile detention center has been drastically reduced.
A comparison of the detention data before and after the launch of the program shows that the average daily population of juveniles held in the detention center has decreased from 38 to 32.
During the same period, the number of bed days used has decreased by 5,529 days. The state average cost per bed day is $162 per day. Montgomery County’s average cost per bed day is $100 – significantly lower than the state average cost. At the $100 per bed day rate, the savings to Montgomery County for this 32-month comparison period is $552,900.
“They have done an exceptional job,” Doyal said.
Ron Leach, the county’s director of Juvenile Detention, said the program has benefits for not only taxpayers, but the juveniles themselves and the broader community.
“The key benefit is that you have three defense attorneys who are all board certified in juvenile law, and all three are former juvenile prosecutors; they have an established working relationship with the juvenile department,” Leach said.
“We’ve always had this approach that we’re all going to work together to help these juveniles.”
The contract defender program identifies indigent juveniles more quickly and pairs them with an attorney to establish a plan for supervision, thus helping get them in front of a judge more quickly and reducing the need for detention. By doing that, it connects juveniles more quickly also with the consequences of their action.
“It expedites getting the juveniles through the system; the more immediate the consequences are, the better the impact this is going to have.”
Chris Allen, one of the three attorneys board-certified in juvenile defense who work under the contract, said the program only makes sense.
“We’re representing kids at their initial detention hearing; that didn’t always occur in the past,” Allen said.
“Now that we’re on board and there is a lawyer who can put a game plan together with the family, we can get them through their hearing faster than they have in the past.
“Folks like Commissioner Doyal had the foresight to see we could save the county money in the long run because we’re specialists.”

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For media inquiries or to speak with the commissioner, call Jim Fredricks at (936) 520-6098 or email jfredricks@thefredricksgroup.com

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Doyal files for Montgomery County Judge in GOP primary

DOYAL CITES EXPERIENCE, CONSERVATIVE VALUES AS HE FILES FOR COUNTY JUDGE

 

For immediate release Dec. 2, 2013

For media follow up, please contact the Craig Doyal Campaign at (936) 520-6098. Want to join us? Go to www.craigdoyal.com.

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Craig Doyal filed for Montgomery County Judge in the GOP primary Monday, Dec. 2, 2013. He is joined by Dr. Walter Wilkerson, chairman of the Montgomery County GOP.

Craig Doyal filed for county judge in the Republican Primary Monday, Dec. 2, saying his conservative values, his years of service to Precinct 2 and his leadership on regional projects had prepared him to serve all of Montgomery County as county judge.

“I love Montgomery County, have lived here all my life, and I share the great values of conservative government and responsible leadership that have made this one of the greatest places to live in Texas,” Doyal said.

Educated in Conroe ISD schools and a proud “Aggie,” Craig is married to wife Amy and has three children, 30-year-old Brian, 27-year-old Lindsey, 20-year-old Jennifer, and 7-year-old granddaughter, Laylee.

A native Texan and 4th-generation Montgomery County resident, Craig Doyal has served as Precinct 2 County Commissioner since August 29, 2001. Prior to holding the office of CountyCommissioner, Craig served for 15 years as the Administrative Assistant to Commissioner Malcolm Purvis, where he handled the day to day operations of Precinct 2.

“I grew up here and have spent my career in Montgomery County learning how this county operates and taking the lead on key projects, like the construction of the Fish Creek Thoroughfare, the expansion of FM 1488 through the pass-thru program, and acquisition of right of way for future thoroughfares. Those experiences have prepared me to handle the diverse challenges our county faces as we prepare for rapid population growth that is headed our way.”

Craig said he will focus on four key areas as county judge:

Responsible economic growth and development

“The county needs to take a thoughtful, conservative and responsible approach to ensure its infrastructure is prepared to cope with its rapid population growth, and I am prepared to do that.” Doyal has taken a leadership role on projects like the 249 Tollway (the Aggie superhighway), which will ease congestion and promote economic growth, and the Camp Strake project, which will provide a quality commercial and residential development on Conroe’s doorstep that will add millions of dollars to the county’s tax base without requiring much, if any, of county services.

Open and transparent service

Craig is committed to maintaining an open-door policy for all county residents and will push for transparency at all levels of county government.

Conservative values on budget, social issues

Doyal has voted repeatedly to keep the county tax rate flat, allowing the county’s expanding tax base to take care of its growth needs. He has opposed wasteful spending, and has supported responsible approaches to county facilities such as the Joe Corley Detention Center, whose sale generated $22 million for the county along with approximately $3 million in operating revenue, and now is permanently on the county’s tax rolls, generating annual revenues.

Protecting natural resources

Doyal has consistently opposed threats to our groundwater from projects like the controversial proposed wastewater injection well east of Conroe. He also is concerned about the county’s sole surface water resource, Lake Conroe, and will work to ensure it is protected from depletion as the cities of Conroe and The Woodlands turn to it to end their longstanding reliance on groundwater for their water needs.

As County Commissioner, Craig’s role in meeting the many challenges of a rapidly growing county have dramatically changed.  Today he works closely with county department heads to manage the expenditures of a $279 million budget and establish policies and procedures for the operation of county government.  Along with these duties, Craig works closely with the Texas Department of Transportation and other county and state officials to make sure our mobility issues are addressed countywide.

Commissioner Doyal has served as past Chairman of Houston Galveston Area Council and the county representative to the Transportation Policy Council, and currently serves as chairman of the SB1420 Committee that will determine funding options for portions of the proposed Grand Parkway and is the Montgomery County representative to the Gulf Coast Rail District.

Commissioner Doyal has served as a Montgomery ISD Board Trustee and a board member of the Montgomery County Committee on the Aging ‑ better known as “The Friendship Center”.  He was a “Meals on Wheels” volunteer for nine years, president of the Magnolia Parks Council and is a member of the South County, Magnolia, Magnolia Parkway and Conroe Chambers of Commerce. Craig is also a member of the Woodlands Rotary Club and a lifetime member of the Montgomery County Fair Association. Additionally, he is a longtime financial supporter of several area Republican groups.

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We’ve beat the last market peak! June sales jump 23 percent; in Houston, 13 percent

We’re back.

According to the latest figures compiled by the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University, Montgomery County has officially climbed out of the pit from the national collapse of the housing market, with June sales this year exceeding sales during the peak of the market in 2006.

A total of 937 homes, townhomes and condos were sold in June of this year – the next-highest recorded sales for a June in Montgomery County was 929. Houston very nearly reached the June 2006 market peak, with 7,924 homes sold this June compared with 8,628 home sold in June 2006.

County monthly  median price since 2006 Median prices likewise have clearly eclipsed the last market peak. The June 2013 median price was $238,200, compared with the June 2008 median price of $196,300.

It is a trend that reflects full recovery of the housing market – and by all indications the market continues on an upward trajectory.

Houston-area home sales continued to surge in June, especially in the area’s hottest housing markets like The Woodlands and Montgomery County, according to the latest reports from the Houston Association of Realtors.

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The continued strong pace of sales has been accompanied by an increase in median prices for homes and a decrease in the Days on Market.

Closed sales June 2012-2013 Sales jumped by 22.5 percent in June in Montgomery County – a percentage increase nearly twice that of Houston, where sales increased 13.4 percent. It is a testament to the value of the Montgomery County market relative to the Houston region. A total of 894 homes were sold in June in Montgomery County, as opposed to 730 last June. Year-to-date sales in June jumped 24.6 percent, from 3,184 sold as of this point last year compared with 3,966 this year.

          The strength in home sales continues despite rising mortgage interest rates and a slight cooling in employment growth, according to the Houston Association of Realtors. The Texas Workforce Commission reported that the greater Houston area added 91,600 jobs in the 12 months ending May 2013, which is down from 106,000 jobs and a 4.0 percent annualized rate for the 12 months endin  Days on Market YTD June 2013 g April 2013.

Virtually all areas of the county are benefiting from a steadily strengthening housing market, although in Conroe and northeast Montgomery County sales for June were flat compared with last June – an anomaly compared with year-to-date sales, where all regions of the county have improved.

“The Houston housing market plowed full-steam ahead through another month and most REALTORS® I know have never been busier,” said HAR Chairman Danny Frank with Prudential Anderson Properties. “The fact that inventory has leveled off month-over-month suggests that we may finally be starting to see enough homes listed for sale to keep up with demand.”

The county and the Houston region continued to blow out previous home sales records as the area’s strong economy, job and population growth fuel continued demand for housing.

Jim Fredricks is a licensed Realtor® with The Chevaux Group PLLC – ReMax The Woodlands & Spring:

26113 Oakridge Drive, Suite D

The Woodlands, TX  77380

Phone: (936) 520-6098
Email: jfredricks@thefredricksgroup.com

http://www.har.com/JimFredricks

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May home sales surge for Houston region, Montgomery County

Closed Sales May 2012-2013The county and the Houston region continued to blow out previous home sales records as the area’s strong economy, job and population growth fuel continued demand for housing.

May 2013 marked the second-best month for home sales in Montgomery County ever, with 911 homes sold; that is second only to June 2006, when 929 homes were sold during the market peak. It was the highest number of homes sold in May in Montgomery County ever, compared even with the market peak in 2006.Closed Sales YTD May 2013

The monthly sales represented a 23 percent increase over May of last year; that compares well with Houston, which saw a 28 percent growth in sales in May, year over year.

Montgomery County has seen nearly two years – 20 consecutive months – of positive sales each month over previous years. Houston has experienced 24 straight months of positive growth.

It all adds up to a dynamic housing market that gives no signs of slowing, despite modest increase in interest rates recently, according to Houston Association of Realtors Chairman Danny Frank with Prudential Anderson Properties.

“The Houston real estate market has held to positive territory for two years running and you’d be hard-pressed to find a market anywhere in the U.S. as vibrant as ours,” Frank said. “We continue to see multiple offers on homes, in many cases before the ink has even dried on the listing agreements. There are also many cash offers. We need to carefully watch pricing, however. A disproportionate appreciation in home prices could suggest a bubble, and Houston is very fortunate to have avoided that so far.”

Houston’s and Montgomery County’s relentless surge in home sales continues to be fueled by further job creation, according to HAR, with the Texas Workforce Commission reporting the addition of more than 111,000 jobs over the past 12 months. Continued low interest rates have also made conditions more appealing for home buying, although rates have begun creeping up in recent weeks.

Median Price YTD May 2013The patterns of growth in sales, decreasing inventory, and median prices have been favoring The Woodlands, Conroe and southwest Montgomery County, but southeast Montgomery County and the Lake Conroe area saw the strongest increase in closed sales in May, and also year-to-date now. The two regions also lead in May with increases in median price; although year-to-date The Woodlands and southwest Montgomery County, followed by Conroe northeast, continue to see the strongest price appreciation, with gains in median prices of 9.1 percent and 8.5 percent, respectively.

All of this growth in sales of course eventually will have an impact on the availability of housing and the pace of sales.

                       

Days on Market YTD May 2013

                                                                                                                The average Days on Market (DOM) fell in each of the four regions of Montgomery County, with the stro

ngest declines being in what have been the two strongest markets, The Woodlands/southwest and Conroe/northeast. In The Woodlands/southwest, the average DOM now stands at 56 days.

Months of Inventory June 2013The amount of remaining inventory continues to drop as well. In The Woodlands/southwest, the remaining months of inventory available has fallen to just 2.5 months.

The only negative to be found in all of the data is the number of closed sales in southeast Montgomery County – there has been a decrease for that region both for May compared to last year, and for year to date.

Still, with all the pressure on growth – and the coming development of the latest segment of the Grand Parkway, passing along the south part of the county from near the Exxon/Mobil complex to U.S. 59 – it’s hard to believe that southeast Montgomery County won’t see a surge in sales eventually as well.

 

April sales jump 33 percent; county outpaces Houston region overall

Closed sales April 2012-2013

If you’ve been thinking it’s time to put your home on the market – you’re exactly right — and the numbers show it.

Homes sales and median prices continue to soar, according to the latest April sales data from the Houston Association of Realtors.

Meanwhile, Montgomery County continues to outpace the Houston region as a whole in terms of closed sales and median price increases. Buyer demand for homes, and a dwindling supply, continues to improve the options for homeowners thinking about listing their homes for sale.

Median Price April 2012-2013Montgomery County home sales for April jumped 32.3 percent compared with last April, climbing from 535 to 708 homes sold. That compares favorably to the Houston region overall, which saw a 27.2 percent increase in homes sold for April, according to HAR. Homes selling between $80,000 and $250,000 registered the greatest increase in sales volume, according to HAR, and that tracks closely with Montgomery County, where the sweet spot for home sales hovers around $250,000 to $300,000.

The year-to-date numbers for Montgomery County are strong as well, rising 28.1 percent from 1,715 to 2,197 homes sold year to date in April.

List your home with me and we will make sure you get top value for your home

Days on Market, YTD April 2013With the inventory of available homes continuing to tighten, the result has been quicker sales and higher prices as demand for homes continues to grow, driven by population and job growth and low mortgage rates.

Meanwhile, within Montgomery County, The Woodlands and southwest Montgomery County continue to lead in terms of overall sales, median prices and the Days on Market (the average number of days a home will be on market before it is sold). But other regions showed a surge in the pace of sales in April. The Conroe/Northeast county area saw sales jump 60 percent in April, for example, while Lake Conroe area sales rose 39 percent compared with last April.

Meanwhile, in terms of median prices, all areas showed an increase of 10 percent or better compared with last April, with the exception of southeast Montgomery County, which saw its median prices fall. Here is a full chart of the Montgomery County April 2013 MLS Statistics.

The booming Houston region economy – we were the last in, and the first out, of the national recession – will continue to drive demand for housing, and until homebuilders can put up enough new homes to respond to that demand the value of existing homes will continue to soar in many areas of the county.

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Home sales for March in Montgomery County – up, up and away!

Home sales – up, up and away
County Monthly Home Sales for March 2013The long-term trends continue; home sales and prices are continuing their upward march to the next peak. What has been happening for a year in Montgomery County has now taken hold around the country – home prices are on the rise.

A survey shows U.S. home prices rose 10.5 percent in March compared with a year ago, the biggest gain since March 2006.

Core Logic, a real estate data provider, said Tuesday that annual home prices have now increased for 13 straight months. Prices are rising in part because more buyers are bidding on a limited supply of homes for sale.

Prices increased in 46 states over the past year – 11 of them posting double-digit gains. And when excluding distressed sales, which include foreclosures and short sales, prices rose in every state. A short sale is when a home sells for less than what is owed on the mortgage. In Texas, the Houston MSA (Metropolitan Statistical Area) posted a 7.9 percent annual gain (excluding distressed properties, the gain was 9.7 percent). For the PDF report: corelogic-hpi-march-2013

Nevada led all states with a 22.2 percent annual gain. It was followed by California (17.2 percent), Arizona (16.8 percent), Idaho (14.5 percent) and Oregon (14.3 percent).

Home prices also rose 1.9 percent in March from February, signaling a solid start to the spring buying season. And 88 of the 100 largest cities reported price gains compared with a year earlier, down slightly from 92 in February.

Consider the following statistics from the data of the Texas Real Estate Center for March. The data looks at home sales, including townhomes and condos, for Montgomery County:

County Monthly Home Inventory March 2013

  • Home Sales — Up 30 percent compared to previous March, rising from 528 to 684
  • Median Price —                 Up 5 percent compared with previous March, rising from $192,600 to $202,000.
  • Inventory — Falling 35 percent, plummeting from 6.2 months of available inventory to just 4 months currently.

Email me to request a comparative market analysis of your home

The interesting number to watch is the low inventory; it has been low for months, and I’ve been expecting to see builders respond to increasing demand for housing.

It has begun to happen. According to the graphic below, March building permits nearly doubled over the previous year. Eventually, that will help ease some upward pressure on prices — and more importantly, it will put more and more people to work and help the local economy.

Monthly home inventory March 2013

The Top 10 fast-selling areas in Montgomery County; location, location, location

 

Top 10 fast sellers April 2013 

One clear sign of the strength of home sales in any particular area, and where the market is likely to heat up even more next, is in the average Days on Market for homes.

Clearly, Montgomery County is now a “seller’s market,” defined as a housing market in which the existing inventory of homes is 5 to 6 months or less (the time it would take, given the existing pace of sales, to absorb all of the existing homes on market).

But Montgomery County is not uniform by any means, and housing sales are driven by any number of factors. The quality of area schools, the quality of construction, the availability and quality of area amenities, and proximity to jobs are all major factors that will drive home sales.

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And one measure of the strength of those sales is the Days on Market. After analyzing the Days on Market for the geographical market areas used by the Houston Association of Realtors MLS, I have determined the “Top 10 Fastest Selling Areas” in Montgomery County for April 2013. Go here for a chart showing the entire list, plus the number of sales in each area.

The graphic shows the Top 10. What makes these communities so popular? A look at the top 5 helps explain:

  1. The Woodlands – The Woodlands is the hottest market for real estate right now in Montgomery County. Homes are listed and sold literally in days in some cases. The reasons are obvious. The Woodlands boasts quality schools, fantastic area amenities including Market Street, great neighborhood parks, golfing and miles of hiking and biking trails and proximity to Interstate 45 and the Exxon Mobil campus currently under construction. At 12 Days on Market on average for April, homes have become a precious commodity in The Woodlands.
  2. Spring Northeast – Spring Northeast is No. 2 in our ranking, and it is driven by quality subdivisions like Imperial Oaks and Bender’s Landing, the community of Oak Ridge north, and proximity to I-45.
  3. Conroe southeast – At No. 3, the southeast area of Conroe – featuring custom home subdivisions like River Plantation and Crighton Ridge, is narrowly behind Spring Northeast in Days on Market. Again, proximity to I-45 is a key driver.
  4. Magnolia FM 1488 east – Home buyers here are drawn by the promise of spacious homes on large lots, a place in the country that still is not too far thriving areas like The Woodlands and thoroughfares like Interstate 45.
  5. Lake Conroe area – Lake Conroe is one of Montgomery County’s claims to fame, and a wide variety of lake area communities afford homeowners the best of both worlds, a lake area lifestyle, with city amenities just down the road.