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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!

Kids are back in school, and routines are back to normal as we head into September. While parents are probably relieved that their kids are back on a normal schedule, we all have to deal with increased traffic and longer commute times again. We are also breathing a sigh of relief in the real estate market as we look forward to home buying to return to a more normal routine after Labor Day.

As usual, home sales slowed in August as everyone turned their focus to finalizing vacations and preparing kids for school. The numbers aren’t out yet, but if you were trying to sell a home, you saw the decline in showings and open house traffic. I spoke to several mortgage lenders that also saw a slow down on the home loan side.

I don’t want to be a “Debbie Downer”, but I feel it important to report what we see going on in the market from the perspective of the people in the trenches, which are the Realtors and the mortgage lenders.  If you read the newspaper, you would think that we have a booming seller’s market and all the homes are selling fast and at higher prices. If your home is on the market for sale, you may be asking, “why isn’t my home selling”? To be frank, it is still a mixed bag on the market. Homes that are priced well and fully updated could see multiple offers in 2 days, while others are sitting on the market for well over 100 days, and prices continue to adjust downwards.

Houston is the 4th largest city in the nation, so our real estate market can vary from neighborhood to neighborhood. Unfortunately, the newspapers are showing a snapshot of the city as a whole, so it is important to talk to your Realtor and understand what the market is doing in your neighborhood or zip code. Your Realtor should not only advise you on pricing, but also advise on improvements that may be needed to make sure your home is marketable in the current climate.

On a positive note, voters passed the $2.5 billion flood bond, and with the federal government matching these funds. This should help answer the question that most buyer’s have when considering a flooded neighborhood, “What is the government doing to correct the flood problem”?

The other good news is that we are seeing more activity with high end rental properties than we have seen in 3 years!  These renters are relocating with the oil companies and signing long term leases in many cases. In the past, this movement was a precursor to more hiring in the Energy Sector, which means that our relocation market is picking up again.  Although, I have been told that most oil companies do not plan to start major projects until the beginning of 2019, the rental activity is a positive sign!

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