By Delia Stephens
“The residential real estate market was going like gangbusters in January of this year,” Realtor John Nugent said when he spoke to his fellow Space Center Rotarians at their Aug. 3 Zoom meeting. And then, “The bottom fell out in March. A rebound occurred in June and now it’s on the upswing again.” And, he should know, as he serves as chairman of the Houston Association of Realtors this year.
Total home sales nationally were up 20.7% from May to June, and the national average price of a resale home is $295,300, he said, adding that the average days on the market prior to sale is generally an average of 61 days.
“Low inventory, low interest rates, higher cost for homes all mean it’s a good time to sell,” he said, but “finding a home to buy may be difficult, as the national supply of homes for sale is 3.2 months — about half what it has been in the past.” Meanwhile, townhomes and condominium sales have been down but are now back to pre-COVID19 sales, he explained, adding that rent is generally up by 8% nationally, while it may be lower in some places. Transactions in the Clear Lake area have remained fairly consistent over the last three years regardless of natural disasters and the worldwide pandemic, Nugent.added.
“The market for new homes is up but construction costs are driving the price up due to the land, labor and material cost.” Much of a real estate transaction can be done virtually and through DocuSign, he explained. At some point, though, the purchaser is required to physically walk through the house. “When personally viewing a house, people wear masks, maintain social distance, and do not touch things in the house. In the future, transactions will continue to be handled using electronics as much as possible, even after the pandemic.“
People are moving to Texas at a rapid rate, he said. Media rooms and office rooms are popular items now, brought on by COVID19 confinement. What people want to buy depends on their life style. A person can go to HAR.com and see houses that are available to buy in Texas. If someone is moving outside of Texas, Zillow is a place to look. Real estate transactions have continued during the pandemic because they are considered essential activity.
Turning to another subject, Nugent alerted the Rotarians that the National Flood Insurance program is up for renewal, and prior to the COVID-19 crisis, Houston area realtors had planned to be in Washington urging the Congress to renew the program and hopefully at no premium cost increase. “Local realtors have been strong consumer advocates for home owners. They continue to urge Congress to allow for income tax deductions for real estate taxes and tax deductions for home loan interest,” he pointed out.