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.

 

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.

If you are considering listing your home, list it with Remax The Woodlands/Spring, the market leader in The Woodlands/Spring

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.

Montgomery County June home sales soaring; need a nice country retreat?

The Houston area housing market – including Montgomery County – continues to soar to new heights based on the latest figures for June 2012.

In the Houston region June marked the 13th straight month of positive home sales, according to the Houston Association of Realtors.

According to the latest monthly data prepared by the Houston Association of REALTORS® (HAR), single-family home sales rose 14.4 percent compared to June 2011. The month also saw local housing inventory hold to its lowest level in more than five years.

And Montgomery County specifically saw strong numbers for June – eclipsing the numbers for the Houston region overall. Here are some of the highlights for Montgomery County:

  • Closed single-family home sales rose 17.3 percent for June 2012, growing from 635 sales in June last year to 745;
  • Year-to-date numbers are strong as well; year-to-date sales in June rose 15.1 percent over last year, going from 2,775 in June 2011 to 3,195 this June;
  • The Woodlands and southwest Montgomery County remain, the most robust region for home sales, but each of the county’s four region posted strong gains in sales, as is indicated in the graphic below;
  • Total Days on Market actually  declined in southwest Montgomery County by 8.3 percent, dropping from 84 days to 77 days;
  • Median prices for all but one region posted strong gains, from 7.5 percent year over year in southwest Montgomery County and The Woodlands, to as much as 25.7 percent in southeast Montgomery County. See the graphic below.

These numbers paint a picture of a strong real estate market, which is good news for homebuyers and sellers. It’s a seller’s market for most of Montgomery County, but an improving real estate market can make a home purchase a good investment for buyers as well.

The strength of the real estate market in the Houston region is being, and will continue to be, driven by gains in jobs and an improving economy.

“We see the strength of the Houston housing market as a direct reflection of improving consumer confidence in the local economy as a whole,” Wayne A. Stroman, HAR chairman and CEO of Stroman Realty, said in a recent Houston Association of Realtors release.

“One of the principal factors in the demand for homes throughout greater Houston has been steady job gains that the Texas Workforce Commission reports have amounted to more than 90,000 hires over the past year. In its July economic outlook, the Greater Houston Partnership said ‘Houston is the strongest of all the major metro economies in the U.S., and if job growth continues at the current pace, this may be one of the best years on record for the region.'”

I attended a meeting earlier this year where the keynote speaker was Mike Inselmann, co-founder and President of Metrostudy, which studies the housing market.

At the close of his remarks and after reviewing all the job growth data for the Houston region, Inselmann made a similar point, and pointed to a great future for housing in the Houston region: “The next four to five years are going to be pretty good years for Houston.”

This could be a perfect time for you to consider buying or selling a home in Montgomery County. I’d be happy to help.

If you’re interested in buying or selling a home in Montgomery County, please contact me at jfredricks@thefredricksgroup.com. You can also follow the link below to see my newest listing, a lovely log home on 3.5 acres with a pond, east of Conroe.

Jim Fredricks is a licensed Realtor with the Chevaux Group in The Woodlands.

See more detail here

18422 Possum Trot – Log home on 3.5 acres east of Conroe
MLS# 23125033 Listing Price:$280,000 Bedrooms:# 4 Baths:# 2 Sq.ft:# 2,953 Acres: 3.5Description:Peaceful, country living at its best on spacious 3.5   acres with pond. Great custom log home, soaring ceilings in living area and   master with wrap-around porch to enjoy the country views. Four bedrooms, game   room and study. 40X40 workshop/garage. Master Bedroom/Study is up with large   jacuzzi tub and huge walk-in shower. 19X6 balcony off master bedroom   overlooks gorgeous acreage. Includes big 8-person hot tub with 20X14 deck.

See more detail here

Speight shows big lead in fund-raising for GOP race for commissioner

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If money – and a wide base of local donors – is any indication of eventual victory at the polls, then Precinct 3 GOP Commissioner candidate Kenny Speight is in a strong position heading into the spring primary season in Montgomery County, Texas, according to the latest campaign finance reports maintained by the Montgomery County Elections Office.

According to the latest reports – dealing with the period from July 1 to December 31, 2011 – Speight raised almost four times as much money as James Noack, widely perceived as Speight’s main challenger in the GOP primary race to succeed outgoing Commissioner Ed Chance. The other candidates in the GOP race for commissioner are Brian Dawson and Paul Cote. Speight raised a total of $71,847.99 in the most recent reporting cycle, with Noack raising just $18,664.91 and relying on $25,000 in a personal loan of his own money. Speight listed no outstanding loans in the most recent report. Donations to Dawson and Cote together totaled less than $2,500. The winner of this contest will face Democratic candidate Bryan Cambrice in the fall general election. Speight reports he maintains contributions totaling $43,241, compared to $33,000 for Noack, giving Speight a $10,000 edge at this point in dollars in the bank.

Speight’s donors read like a Who’s Who of The Woodlands and South Montgomery County, featuring big donations from key figures and PACs, including $500 from The Woodlands Development Co. PAC; $1,000 from Woodforest CEO Robert Marling; $1,000 from Shenandoah Mayor Garry Watts, and $1,000 from The Woodlands Township Director Nelda Blair.

Noack, by contrast, had fewer high-profile donors, with the exception of a few, most notably one big name among conservative GOP donors, homebuilder Bob Perry and his wife, Doylene, who together gave $7,000 to Noack in the most recent reporting cycle. Also figuring in these most recent reports was a $500 donation to Noack from The Woodlands Township Director Peggy Hausman.

Money isn’t everything, of course, and a big war chest doesn’t automatically translate into political victory for a local candidate. But the ability to raise a large amount of money from a large number of donors from the same community in which a candidate is running for office is a show of strength. People who give also presumably will go vote when Election Day arrives – and encourage others to do the same.

Last year I wrote a blog about Speight and the obvious efforts made to indicate he was the natural heir to the seat held by longtime Commissioner Ed Chance, who will step down at the end of his term this year. Chance himself had endorsed Speight for the seat, and at that time last year it was clear that community leadership was coalescing around Speight, and for good reason. Speight’s 20 years in the county come with a long list of accomplishments, including owning his own independent insurance agency, being named a Woodlands 2005 Hometown Hero, serving as chairman of the South Montgomery County Woodlands Chamber of Commerce and working with groups such as the Montgomery County Fair Association, Conroe ISD Education Foundation and The Woodlands Lions Club.

And yet, a highly competitive contest for the Republican presidential nomination could drive a large number of voters to the polls who may have no knowledge of Speight and his ties to the community. This may be Noack’s opportunity, and in addition, Noack may have stronger ties to tea party voters. Still, it’s about building a base of support, and Speight’s base is both visible and considerable.

I’ve included graphs showing donations for a number of other local races below. The most interesting in this regard is the race for Precinct 3 Constable to fill the seat of Constable Tim Holifield who will leave office at the end of 2012. Running for the GOP nomination to that seat are Sheriff’s Lt. Dan Norris; Harris County Precinct 4 Constable Capt. Ryan Gable; Sheriff’s Auto Theft Task Force member Matthew Beasley; and David Angstadt, a member of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office – Safe Home Task Force.

Gable has raised an astounding amount of money in this reporting period – $65,091 – with a large portion of it from Harris County, including some high-profile donations like $5,000 from homebuilder Bob Perry and wife Doylene and $5,000 from Farouk Shami, who ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in 2010, losing to former Mayor Bill White in the Democratic Primary. None of his rivals even came close to that fund-raising prowess in the most recent reporting cycle, although Norris can boast some high-profile local donors, including Shenandoah Mayor Garry Watts, and auto dealership owner Don Buckalew. As for Gable, with a big chunk of that money coming from Harris County, it may not translate into strength at the ballot box – but it sure can help.

Below are the charts for the other major local GOP primary races; I’ll delve into the fund-raising and races for state representative and Congress for our area at a later date: