Houstonian and President of Martha Turner Sotheby’s International Realty, Marilyn Thompson, answers our questions on what trends are happening with Houston's housing market in the summer of 2016.
What real estate trends do we see heading into the summer here in the Houston metro?
Because people travel so much in the summer, when buyers are looking at properties they are looking very diligently and hopefully will make their housing decisions much more rapidly. They also know that some of the areas of town move much quicker than others, and if they are looking in those areas, they will have to jump on the homes as soon as they come up for sale.
How do these trends differ from last year or previous years?
This always happens in the summer months. However with the new lending guidelines in place, it takes even longer to get to the closing table.
What kind of market would you say it is this summer? Buyer's? Seller's? Does it differ by neighborhood?
It is ALWAYS a buyer’s market. The buyers set the sales prices – neither the sellers nor the agents set the prices. A home is only worth what a buyer is willing to pay for it. A good agent will suggest a list price for the home based on comparable sales in the same neighborhood, and sellers will see the fastest sale if they will price their homes according to those comparable sales.
What are the neighborhoods with the most activity?
There are way too many to address here. From The Heights to Cypress, West U to Katy, Clear Lake to The Woodlands – there are plenty of buyers out there looking for the best home they can get for their families right now.
What are buyers looking for?
Buyers are looking for open floor plans, nice kitchens and baths, yard space for children and dogs, outdoor entertaining space, porches (screen porches are loved right now), pretty landscaping (curb appeal), neutral colors — they want a home that they can walk in with their belongings and start living.
What kinds of homes are selling the quickest?
Mid-range homes. These are the homes in the $300,000 to $750,000 range.
What factors do you think are currently affecting the housing market?
The energy sector of course, but we are still adding jobs – just not as rapidly as we did in 2014. Also it’s an election year. Historically the market will show some resistance right before the election. Then once the election is over, no matter which party wins, the market will shake up and start moving forward again.
For those interested in buying/selling homes this summer, what are three things they should be aware of?
- It takes longer to get properties closed now with the new lending guidelines in place (usually 60 days).
- Any buyer should go ahead and talk to a lender and get pre-qualified — nothing hurts more than to look at a house thinking you can afford it, then finding out you can’t.
- All buyers should talk to their insurance agent and find out the guidelines for, requirements, restrictions, and costs of obtaining flood insurance.
Anything else you think would be relevant to share with readers interested in the Houston real estate market?
Houston will always have a strong real estate market. There is absolutely no reason not to buy right now if you are thinking about it. We have inventory, and we have the right job climate – it is an ideal time to buy in the greater Houston area. With such diverse neighborhoods and landscapes, Houston has something for every buyer out there. We have water property, homes with docks, wooded property, property canopied by beautiful old trees; subdivisions by the museums, the medical center; homes close to the arts and business Downtown; rural property with acreage; high-rises with views across the sky; patio homes; town homes; Houston has it all.