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West Houston Market on the Road to Recovery

Energy Realty just hosted the first annual Energy Corridor International Festival last weekend to help remind residents and local businesses why the Energy Corridor is a great place to live, work, and play. Overall, the festival was a great success as many local businesses came out and shared their food, culture, services and product on a beautiful sunny day, and the live performances and DJ created a lively atmosphere.

                This was a grass roots effort pulled together by myself and other volunteers, Amy Dukes of Energy Corridor Living Magazine and Barbara Denson, author of the Gary the Go-Cart series. As residents of the Energy Corridor, we have seen businesses and neighborhoods hit hard by first the downturn of the oil industry and second by Hurricane Harvey, and we want to revive this community again. Our hope is that this annual event will continue to grow every year and become as popular as White Linen Nights in the Heights.

                While driving through the neighborhoods that were hit hard by the release of the reservoir in 2017, I am happy to see that the neighborhoods have come back to life and are beautiful and pristine again for the most part.  As a result, the home sales in these neighborhoods and the Energy Corridor have picked up again, although the market still remains saturated with a 9 month supply of inventory.

                We are finding that in order to compete in a market full of remodeled flood homes that are often priced below pre-flood value, homeowners have to update and freshen their homes to sell, even if they did not flood. In 77077, there are 294 single family homes on the market;  205 in 77079; and 1147 homes for sale in Katy! That’s a lot of homes to choose from, so buyers can be picky right now.

                As the memory of Harvey slowly fades away and the neighborhoods look better than ever, the desire to live in the Energy Corridor will far outweigh the risks of flooding and this area will come back stronger than ever! At the same time, as oil prices continue to stabilize in the $60’s and are predicted to go up to $70/barrel in a year, the empty office spaces will start filling up again, and home values should follow this trend.

                There are great things happening in West Houston and I am excited to be in the middle of it!

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.

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