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COVID-19 Affects on the Housing Market

COVID-19 Affects on the Housing Market

10/14/20 Stephanie Finch

Covid-19 and Its Affect on the Houston Housing MarketIf you are an investor, a homeowner, or a homebuyer in the Houston market, how will the covid-19 pandemic affect home sales and home values? You would think that the pandemic, along with the dropping price of oil, would drive down home sales in the greater Houston area. But things may not be exactly as they seem.The 2020 housing market started off with a bang with sales increasing by around 14%. Historically low-interest rates had buyers on the hunt. Lower mortgage rates meant that buyers could now afford more houses than they previously could. This demand for housing drove the average single-family home price up by about 4.5%.In late spring, as pandemic conditions continued to worsen, sales began to fall. People were not sure of their job situation. Sellers wasn’t sure if having strangers traipsing through their home, possibly bring the disease with them, was the smartest thing to do. So listings on the MLS began to drop. Good News: It’s Time to Buy Houston is now a buyers’ market. Appreciation is above the national average and people who are fed up with conditions and costs in western states are eager to move away from there and enter into the Houston market. Texas in general, and Houston in particular, have also attracted the attention of many overseas investors. Why the Houston Area? Job creation is the number one reason to buy now. Houston’s unemployment rate is far below the national average. With steady paychecks coming in again, buyers’ confidence is rising. They realize that they will be able to meet their monthly mortgage requirements.Houses cost 5%-20% less when compared to the current national market. Combine that with the lowest interest rates in recent history and you will understand that now is the time to lock in a nicer and larger home than you expected to be able to afford.The appreciation forecasted by real estate experts is 10.5% over the next three years. That means if you buy a $230,000 home today, it should appreciate in value to around $255,000 in just three short years. You would have a hard time investing that kind of money anywhere else and make 10.5% in three years. Plus you get to live in the home and enjoy it while all this appreciation takes place.For investors, the median monthly rental rate in the Houston area is $1,400. That’s up over 6% from last year. How Buying & Selling Is Happening Today   Covid-19 has made the general public a little leery of meeting each other face to face. Buyers don’t want to be going from house to house and possibly exposing themselves to the virus. It’s better for sellers too because it limits the number of people coming through the house, possibly bringing the virus in with them. The creation and use of virtual tours have raised the bar for what is needed to present any home to today’s buyers. After viewing the property via the Internet, only buyers that are truly interested in the property will schedule an in-person visit.Whoever creates the virtual tour must highlight anything that sets the listed home apart from the competition. Whether the home has an open concept, a newly remodeled kitchen, or a home theater, the virtual tour needs to showoff these important features. For people selling their home during these trying times, patience is the keyword. Once a deal is struck, it may take a little longer to finish up all the details and get to closing. Even with the pandemic, it’s a good time to buy or sell a home in Houston.

Cool and Chic Loft Living

Cool and Chic Loft Living

08/28/20 Stephanie Finch

There are few homes as cool and desirable as a downtown loft. In most cases, these homes come with an abundance of architectural style and a sophisticated, yet laid-back atmosphere. Usually, these units are on the top floor of a building, directly under the roof, and have been converted from commercial to residential use.  Because they are at the top of a building, they many times have roof access that will provide outdoor entertaining space with a view of the surrounding area.Due to their popularity, some loft units are new construction. Developers understand how desirable these units are and they will design a few of them in the construction design of newer buildings.   Loft Apartment Benefits Loft units typically have high ceilings with exposed HVAC ducting. Because of these higher ceilings, lofts will give the impression of being larger living spaces than their square footage provides. Many rooms or areas in a loft will display the building's construction materials, such as old brick or concrete walls.Natural light is another benefit that many loft units provide, especially when they are located in older buildings. They usually have huge windows, many times floor to ceiling, and plenty of them. Don’t expect to find small, closed-off rooms in a loft home. They are usually large spaces conducive to open floor plans. Sometimes there is virtually no separation between the living area, kitchen, and bedroom as you transition from one space to another.If you desire a modern design with an industrial feel to your home, you will probably find a loft unit right up your alley. Exposed pipes and ducting, and metal or concrete ceilings are the norms. These features add to the chic style of loft living. Expect to find many different “finishes”, stone, concrete, brick, or older wood floors.   The Great Outdoors While Still In Town   Many loft units include the benefit of some type of outdoor space. Sometimes it is a large balcony or patio area; sometimes it is a rooftop deck. These areas provide great spaces to entertain family and friends. You can have a rooftop garden, an outdoor dining area, or just a comfortable spot to enjoy an evening glass of wine to relax and watch the sun go down.Many times these decks r balconies are large enough to incorporate an outdoor spot to watch movies. Hang up a sheet on one of the building’s walls or use a portable screen. Add a good quality laser projector and you’re all set to watch movies or sporting events outside on a big screen, as the city lights and sounds add to the ambiance.   What Loft Living Is Loft living isn’t for everyone, but neither is it just for the young at heart. Anyone can enjoy the loft-living style of life. Yes, it’s non-traditional, but if you are seeking a more contemporary aesthetic with virtually no outdoor maintenance required, a loft could be an interesting option. They definitely provide a unique and trendy feel that you won’t find in a traditional home or apartment. And with their large rooms with little separation, you won’t feel like you’re living in a shoebox.Houston has many loft units available to choose from. Contact a realtor who knows the ropes about loft living and let the hunt begin for your new lifestyleWritten by Karl Kennedy, Author of ProjectorTop.com. 

Dealing with Financing

Dealing with Financing

02/21/17 Stephanie Finch

As the events of the last few years in the real estate industry show, people forget about the tremendous financial responsibility of purchasing a home at their peril. Here are a few tips for dealing with the dollar signs so that you can take down that “for sale” sign on your new home.Get pre-approved. Sub-primes may be history, but you’ll probably still be shown homes you can’t actually afford. By getting pre-approved as a buyer, you can save yourself the grief of looking at houses you can’t afford. You can also put yourself in a better position to make a serious offer when you do find the right house. Unlike pre-qualification, which is based on a cursory review of your finances, pre-approval from a lender is based on your actual income, debt, and credit history. By doing a thorough analysis of your actual spending power, you’ll be less likely to get in over your head.Choose your mortgage carefully. Used to be the emphasis when it came to mortgages was on paying them off as soon as possible. Today, the debt the average person will accumulate due to credit cards, student loans, etc. means it’s better to opt for the 30-year mortgage instead of the 15-year. This way, you have a lower monthly payment, with the option of paying an additional principal when money is good. Additionally, when picking a mortgage, you usually have the option of paying additional points (a portion of the interest that you pay at closing) in exchange for a lower interest rate. If you plan to stay in the house for a long time and given the current real estate market, you should take the points that will save you money.Do your homework before bidding. Before you make an offer on a home, do some research on the sales trends of similar homes in the neighborhood with sites like Zillow. Consider especially sales of similar homes in the last three months. For instance, if homes have recently sold for 5 percent less than the asking price, your opening bid should probably be about 8 to 10 percent lower than what the seller is asking.

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