HOUS August 2013 : Page 50

THE BIG JUMP Real estate is selling high and going fast all over Houston, especially in newly popular areas like the Goof, where busy homebuilder Miguel Facundo lives with his wife Gail and their kids Claire, Luke and Izaac. Up, Up & Away! From Montrose to Memorial and all the way to the Goof, Houston real estate has never been hotter. Here’s what’s selling, who’s buying and what’s next in the most sensational sellers’ market in America. | By Holly Crawford & Evan Wetmore | | Photography by Daniel Kramer, Laurie Perez, Phoebe Rourke-Ghabriel & Julie Soefer | continued… 50 | | august 2013 market statistics throughout courtesy of houston association of realtors multiple listings service; del monte photo courtesy of john daugherty, realtors the loop | Realty the price of the most expensive home sold in houston so far this year, a brick mansion on a half-acre corner lot on del monte in river oaks. 6.2 mil go figuRe next hot ’hood Just north of the Heights and moments outside the Loop, leafy subdivisions Garden Oaks and Oak Forest overlap. As mod new mansions go up alongside ’50s-era ranch homes, realtors say the price and pace of sales is unprecedented for the area, dubbed the acronymic Goof by the young families and professionals flooding into it. Houses stay on the market 39 days on average—nearly half of what it was at this time last year, one of the briefest spans in town—and home sales prices spiked 20 percent since last spring, thanks in part to new builds, some of which go for more than a mil. Homebuilder Miguel Facundo, who grew up in Oak Forest and owns a home with wife Gail and their kids in Garden Oaks, says the area “is not a secret anymore,” attracting families from the Heights, West U and parts of Memorial. “I’ve never seen anything like it,” says the builder, 44, who’s built some 60 homes in the neighborhood in recent years. “City permits can’t keep up.”

The Loop Realty

Holly Crawford & Evan Wetmore

Up, Up & Away!<br /> <br /> From Montrose to Memorial and all the way to the Goof, Houston real estate has never been hotter. Here's what's selling, who's buying and what's next in the most sensational sellers' market in America.<br /> <br /> GO FIGURE<br /> <br /> 6.2mil<br /> <br /> The price of the most expensive home sold in Houston so far this year, a brick mansion on a half-acre corner lot on Del Monte in River oaks.<br /> <br /> NEXT HOT HOOD<br /> <br /> Just north of the Heights and moments outside the Loop, leafy subdivisions Garden Oaks and Oak Forest overlap. As mod new mansions go up alongside '50s-era ranch homes, realtors say the price and pace of sales is unprecedented for the area, dubbed the acronymic Goof by the young families and professionals flooding into it.<br /> <br /> Houses stay on the market 39 days on average—nearly half of what it was at this time last year, one of the briefest spans in town—and home sales prices spiked 20 percent since last spring, thanks in part to new builds, some of which go for more than a mil.<br /> <br /> Homebuilder Miguel Facundo, who grew up in Oak Forest and owns a home with wife Gail and their kids in Garden Oaks, says the area "is not a secret anymore," attracting families from the Heights, West U and parts of Memorial. "I've never seen anything like it," says the builder, 44, who's built some 60 homes in the neighborhood in recent years. "City permits can't keep up."<br /> <br /> MILITARY TiME<br /> <br /> Houston Association of Realtors (HAR) says that in 12 months, the average price for a single-family home in the Washington Corridor's Rice Military area spiked 22 percent, to just shy of a half million. Meanwhile, the average number of days on the market dropped by about the same percentage, to 67. And, while Re/Max CityView realtor J.D. Adamson and his photographer partner Anthony Gibson spent three months searching for a place, the four-story freestanding townhouse they purchased in the spring didn't even last one day.<br /> <br /> "It stayed on the market for a few hours," says Adamson, 28. "In Houston real estate, this is called a 'flash sale.'" They may have signed in a flash, but they have no regrets relocating to the Corridor— known for its clusters of adjoining townhomes, the sales of which are up by 50 percent citywide over the past two years—from the Galleria area. "We like the eclectic demographic of Rice Military and enjoy some of the Washington Avenue nightlife," says Gibson, 31.<br /> <br /> Not only can they see their old Galleria stomping grounds, the Med Center and Downtown from their rooftop terrace, they also have a 270-degree city view from inside their pad, which boasts 12-foot windows on each floor. The pair declines to note what they paid, but a mirror-image unit next door is on the market for $520K.<br /> <br /> GO FIGURE<br /> <br /> 9% The relatively low rate of foreclosures as a percentage of all real estate sold in Houston in May, as compared to just five months before, when the sale of foreclosed properties accounted for 19 percent of the market, per HAR. By contrast, foreclosures represented 18 percent of the national market in may, which was an improvement on January's 23 percent, according to the National association of realtors.<br /> <br /> QUOTED <br /> <br /> "Today the Houston real estate market and business climate is the best in the world. It will continue to be a healthy market as we enter 2014."<br /> <br /> - Realtor John Daugherty, whose agency closed more than $1 billion in sales in 2012, the 46-year-old company's "best year ever."<br /> <br /> Where Are the Million-Dollar Homes?<br /> <br /> A decade ago, River Oaks and two or three other posh enclaves would have accounted for most of the million-dollar-plus sales in the Houston area. But these days seven-figure 'hoods are everywhere, per John Daugherty Realtors. Some 604 houses sold for more than a mil in the first half of the year; here's where.<br /> <br /> Building Boom!<br /> <br /> As newcomers attracted by the area's economy flock into Houston, its inventory of available housing shrinks—driving up property prices, and rent. ("Just unbelievable," says Apartment Data Services' Bruce McClenny, who notes already-skyrocketing rents will tick up another 6 percent citywide this year, and more in the hottest 'hoods.) No wonder that developers of multi-unit residential buildings see opportunity. There are at least 65 mid- and high-rise apartment complexes, luxury condo buildings and mixed-use facilities under construction or breaking ground soon. Mixed-use pioneers CityCentre and West Ave are expanding as newbies High Street in Highland Village and Hanover Rice Village open; at least 10 others are in the works. That's in addition to many traditional condo and apartment developments. Above, how the boom breaks down.<br /> <br /> HIGHER LOVE<br /> <br /> It's not lacking in high-end retailers and restaurants, but Upper Kirby is short on single-family homes. Scarce supply pushed the average sales price in the area-south of river oaks, north of 59-up 36 percent from the first half of 2012 to that of 2013, to $820K.<br /> <br /> High-rise sales are climbing, too, in the neighborhood and citywide. "Houstonians are starting to move vertically," says realtor Carlo Chiocchio, pictured, who lives in one of the condos at Upper Kirby's grand "2727 Kirby," which he sells for Heritage Texas Properties. "A lot of people are moving ^ from the Northeast, and they're used to high-rise living."<br /> <br /> Chiocchio, a former DJ who used to spin at lavish parties around the world, moved here from L.A. two years ago to follow his interest in real estate, and his heart. He and partner Jim Smith, an attorney, love the amenities of high-rise life in Upper Kirby-concierge, pool with cabana-and their proximity to everything. "The ability to walk to places is a big one for us," he says of the location of the tower, where the occupancy rate is currently 97 percent, its highest ever. But the quality of the neighbors is an even better selling point, with wine nights one flight up and travel pals downstairs. "It makes us not want to leave, even in a hot market, because we'd lose the sense of community."<br /> <br /> GO FIGURE<br /> <br /> 68% Surge in the number of home sales in the $500K-plus range, year-over-year, in April. In May, the sales of these "luxury" homes, as defined by HAR, rose 27 percent yearover- year, which is more typical of recent monthly spikes.<br /> <br /> GO FiGURE<br /> <br /> 24 Consecutive months of consistently increasing sales volume of singlefamily homes in houston as of may, the most recent har data available at press time. Sales in may increased 28 percent year-overyear, with 7,794 contracts closing, accounting for the market’s largest onemonth sales volume ever. Total dollar volume across all property sales (singlefamily homes, townhouses and condos) is way up, too—38 percent, increasing to $2.2 billion between may 2012 and may 2013.<br /> <br /> QUOTED<br /> <br /> "Actually, everyone is out showing houses right now."<br /> <br /> - A receptionist at a Keller Williams Realty office in The Woodlands, explaining why none of its 10 agents were immediately available for comment on the district's boom in home sales. The area's hot streakhomes here stay on the market just 46 days on average, 40 percent fewer days than this time last year-is due in part to the new 385-acre ExxonMobil campus, pictured, going up in nearby Spring. Many of the 10,000 employees to be based there, including 2,100 who are relocating from the company's office in Virginia, want homes in the high-end, heavily wooded, "planned community" near their new office, which is set to open next year.<br /> <br /> Montrose Mania<br /> <br /> It was a sleepless night for periodontist David Dennison and his sales exec wife, Jo, when they found they were in a bidding war for the Montrose duplex they bought in 2011. "We felt instantly at home in the area, but we almost lost it," says Jo of the property they tore down and replaced with a 3,700-squarefoot mod dream home. "And that was before the real estate market went crazy!" The newlyweds—who moved from Sugar Land to the formerly transitional and bohemian 'Trose to be closer to the arts scene and hot restaurants— represent a growing set of homebuyers who have watched the average number of days on the market for single-family homes in Montrose shrink by almost half, to 47, in a year. This is all while average home prices have soared to an all-time high of $600K, a 19 percent spike from May to May, and cap at $1.5 million. Homes with specs similar to David and Jo's are listed now at $1.4 mil.<br /> <br /> GO FiGURE<br /> <br /> 3.3 The hypothetical number of months it would take to sell all of the homes on the market in Houston at today's rapid sales pace, if no other homes came on the market. This is significantly lower than the national average "months inventory" stat of 5.2, and is the lowest it has been in the city since the late '90s. Some homeowners have reported selling their homes in as little as four hours, for well above their asking price.<br /> <br /> Memorial Day<br /> <br /> Known for sprawling, wooded lots with a country feel within the city, great schools and sense of community, Memorial is one of Houston's toniest and most desirable neighborhoods—as reflected by the average sales price of $1.3 million, and the "revolving door" of prospective homebuyers who show up within hours of a Memorial listing becoming public.<br /> <br /> Realtor Betsy Vanderbrouk of Martha Turner Properties, who has worked in Memorial's six villages for two decades, notes, "I've seen people write a full-price contract without ever walking into a house." The constant stream of out-of-towners, in addition to people migrating within the neighborhood—which is so far the year's best-performing neighborhood among the city's longtime high-dollar districts—means that interested buyers "better have their checkbooks in their back pockets."<br /> <br /> In fact, this year's data show that Memorial properties remain on the market for nearly 30 percent less time than this time last year. "If a house is still available after three days, in a popular price range, then it's overpriced," agrees Greenwood King's Sharon Albert Brier, who recalls recently receiving a full-price offer before she could even create its $850K listing. "That's how hot the Memorial market is."<br /> <br /> UNiVERSiTY SPiRiT<br /> <br /> A leafy and family-friendly neighborhood with a 15-minutes-fromeverything inner-Loop location and especially close proximity to the Medical Center, Museum District and Rice, the West University area is garnering premium prices-up to $3 million just for land. And the average single-family home sales price has risen 20 percent, to just a hair over a million bucks, in less than a year. The 22-year-old Plum Street house pictured sold for $1.4 million in June, after less than a week on the market.<br /> <br /> Even with top-dollar price tags, some West U homes are selling so quickly they don't even officially come on the market. These are known in the biz as "pocket listings," and aren't even assigned a Multiple Listings Service number.<br /> <br /> Indeed, the 'hood is white-hot now, says Boulevard Realty owner Bill Baldwin, who's opening a West U branch office in direct response to the uptick. "The West U market is always a consistent performer, with low inventory, increased demand and more buyers than sellers," he reports, adding excitedly that he anticipates "record sales and prices for the remainder of the year and beyond."<br /> <br /> QUOTED<br /> <br /> "This baby wants to live in your house."<br /> <br /> - Martha Turner Properties realtor Gisele Waters on the kind of notes some clients have included, along with photos of their children, in dossiers pitching themselves to sellers. In a competitive market, in which some sellers receive multiple offers before their house is officially listed, buyers aren't above touting their cute kids. "Sellers have the luxury of choosing which buyers are more appealing to them," Waters says.

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