June 6, 2013

The Seemingly Endless Upward Trend

The Dallas Morning News reports from Texas. “After months of increases, the rate of Dallas-area home price gains shows signs of leveling off, according to the latest Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller Home Price Index. Home prices in the Dallas area have been rising on a year-to-year basis for the last 13 months in the index. Housing analysts say it’s good news that local home prices aren’t getting out of hand. ‘The really high rate of increase was probably unsustainable over time, and, in fact, you might not want it to be,’ said James Gaines, an economist with the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University.”

“Dallas-area home prices are now only about 3 percent below where they were before the recession, according to Case-Shiller’s numbers. ‘As builders ramp up and more houses are listed, we should see the strong increase in prices slow to a more normal pace,’ said D’Ann Petersen, a business economist with the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. ‘The North Texas housing market remains strong, and prices are still moving in the right direction. I did expect price appreciation to ease, and it is good that we will likely not see a price bubble here.’”

CBS Dallas/Ft. Worth. “With housing inventory levels near record lows in the Dallas / Fort Worth area, many would-be home buyers are writing ‘Dear Seller’ letters to help close the deal. Monte and Jan Bennett offered the listed price on a home in Plano after it had been on the market for less than two days, but so did another potential buyer. The Bennett’s real estate agent, Brandee Wilkins with Coldwell Banker Apex, convinced the couple to draft a letter to the seller explaining who they are and why the house would be perfect for them. Wilkins said she also encourages her clients to include family pictures in their letter. The seller picked them. ‘We had to stand-out from the other offers,’ said Monte Bennett.’”

“Keller Williams Realty agent Barbara Van Poole said in the past couple months in some of the popular neighborhoods in West Plano, McKinney, and Frisco it has not been uncommon for sellers to have multiple offers after just a single day on the market. This is why she is preparing ‘Dear Seller’ letters for nearly all her clients. ‘When we have a market like this it becomes more personal,’ said Van Poole. ‘The emotional connect can really tip the scale one way or another.’”

Your Houston News. “Just how hot is the existing home market in Montgomery County these days? Hot enough that almost every sale in the county attracts multiple offers. In a number of cases, prospective buyers offer to pay the seller’s closing costs. Cindy Hamann, branch manager of Coldwell Banker United in The Woodlands, said she has never witnessed such a surge in real estate sales in Montgomery County. There’s no secret as for the seemingly endless upward trend in the housing market. ‘It’s simply supply and demand,’ Hamann said. ‘We need more inventory on the ground. The new home market has not caught up with the demand.’”

The Austin American Statesman. “The housing market is at a nine-year high for the Austin area and for those eying Pflugerville as home, snagging a new house could happen in fewer than 30 days. Pflugerville real estate agent Michelle Sheehan said investors have been buying reasonably priced property to rent because of an expected increase in home sale prices in the next seven years.”

“‘A lot of people have jumped on the investor bandwagon because they can’t earn anything on their money in the bank,’ Sheehan said.”

The Lubbock Avalanche Journal. “James Arnold, executive VP of Lubbock National Bank, said both existing home sales and new construction are running well ahead of last year’s pace. Arnold attributed a portion of the activity in the homebuying sector — in both new and existing home purchases — to Federal Reserve Board decisions to keep interest rates low. In addition, he said, lenders are willing to stretch requirements to some extent to help people qualify.”

“‘We’re continuing to see great numbers,’ Arnold said, adding he does not recall construction numbers this strong in the Lubbock market.”

The San Antonio Express-News. “David and Melina Montelongo, former co-stars of the A&E show ‘Flip This House,’ claim they can’t pay back their debts. Last week, the couple filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation in San Antonio. They have about $31,000 in assets and owe creditors roughly $600,000, says their bankruptcy attorney, J. Todd Malaise. ‘When the economy and real estate market went south in 2008, it really caused problems with their business,’ Malaise said.”

“As the couple’s debts accumulated, David Montelongo has been locked in a legal dispute with his brother and former co-star, Armando Montelongo Jr. Another pending lawsuit involves one of Armando Montelongo Jr.’s companies, Real Estate Training International LLC. In 2012, the real estate guru sued his brother in federal court, claiming David Montelongo and his wife operated businesses that resembled his own, including real estate investment workshops and bus tours.”

“Armando Montelongo’s current training program works like this: people attend a free preview to hear about the program and then are asked to sign up for a three-day seminar, which in 2012 cost about $1,500. A VIP bus tour in place such as Southern California and mentoring for one year could run about $25,000. Armando Montelongo also sells books and other training materials on his website.”

“Last year, Armando Montelongo Co. made Inc. Magazine’s list of fastest growing private companies for the second time. David and Melina Montelongo currently work as consultants for people looking to invest in real estate. Despite their financial troubles, Malaise said, the couple will continue to work in real estate.”

Bits Bucket for June 6, 2013

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