As 2018 comes to an end, I have to ask, is anyone else confused about the state of the real estate market? If you read the reports for 2018, the number of homes sold and home prices are up from 2017, but if you are a seller (or a listing agent), you might ask, “then why hasn’t my home sold, and why do I have to keep dropping my price”?
Information is always relative, and I guess that relative to 2017, when Houston was devastated by Hurricane Harvey, home sales have improved in 2018. However, has anyone else thought to ask how many of those home sales on record were flooded homes that investors came in and purchased for less than half their original value? In one neighborhood alone that was impacted by Harvey, 41 of 158 flooded homes sold prior to being remodeled. That’s 25% of the neighborhood, when in a given year, 5 homes may sell in this neighborhood.
I am generally a positive person, but I have a hard time telling sellers that the market is great unless that is truly what I am seeing. I can tell buyers that it is a great time to buy though! Many homes are now priced below pre-Harvey value and if they flooded, they have been remodeled and are still less. That may be the other “elephant in the room” that has impacted our real estate market. In 2017 immediately following the floods, the Houston Association of Realtors (HAR) required that agents identify homes that flooded from Harvey, but after some homeowners complained, they removed that requirement stating that the obligation to disclose is on the seller, not the Realtor. As a result, many zip codes that experienced flooding have been marked as a flood zip code, even if not every property flooded.
Please remember that I can only state my opinion of the market, and this opinion is based on my personal insight and experience in a market that is predominantly in the Energy Corridor, Katy, and the Memorial area. In my opinion, 2018 was a tough year to sell a home, unless the homes was either exceptional, or a seller was willing to sell their home for less than pre-Harvey values.
The good news is that I think that 2019 will be a great year! Neighborhoods have come back stronger and better, and oil companies are beginning to hire again, despite the recent down turn in oil prices. Let’s face it-West Houston is impacted by oil prices. The word on the street is that many of the major companies like BP, Marathon Oil, Schlumberger, and Technip are consolidating their offices to the Energy Corridor so we should see more relocation in 2019.
We want to wish all of our staff, clients and friends a wonderful holiday season, and we hope to continue to be a source of information and assistance for Houston and our communities.