Every week, we ask a Houston real estate professional for their thoughts on the top three stories from the week before.
This week, we talked with Gloria Nino, president of Nino Properties in Houston. Nino is responsible for daily operations of the full service real estate brokerage, including Business Development and Marketing. As the President, she oversees the recruitment, training and development of her Real Estate Agents. Nino holds a Texas Real Estate Broker’s License and has served on a number of industry-related local, state and national boards related to corporate housing, residential sales and rental assistance.
When she is not busy with real estate, Nino keeps busy as a co-founder of the Houston Furniture Bank, a founding advisory board member of Teach for America and a member of the Muscular Dystrophy Association. She also spends time with her husband and two boys, ages nine and 16.
Houston Agent (HA): Have you noticed any new trends occurring while the housing market recovers?
Gloria Nino (GN): Yes, it’s very exciting. Houston has always done very well – even through the doom and gloom years. And in July of 2013, according to the Houston Association of Realtors, we recorded the highest one-month sales volume of all-time. Sales were up for the 26th straight month in July.
There’s actually been a lot of trending. Homes have increased in price, and the amount of foreclosed properties declined over 41 percent from last July. There is a lot of activity also with cash buyers. The thing that’s probably affected the market nationally and also in Houston is that lease properties have seen a huge, huge gain in the Houston area. The average rental rate was recorded the highest of all-time in July for single-family homes in Houston. Inventory is low as well – we have approximately just under two month’s supply of inventory for rental properties, which is very low.
HA: How healthy is Houston’s mortgage market looking?
GN: It’s very healthy. I was able to speak with someone in the mortgage industry, and the market for him remains very, very strong. He mentioned to be that 30 year fixed conventional loans are at 4 percent, and the 15 year is at 3.125 percent. What’s different today is that for homes that are $1 million or higher, not only are they very strong inside the Loop and in Memorial specifically, but that the mortgages are about the same as the conforming loans. In the past, financing a home that was $1 million or more was about a point higher. That’s not the case today, which is very exciting for people in that bracket.
Title companies are telling us that there are many more cash buyers today than they’ve seen in the past, especially in the $700,000 plus range. They are seeing many, many homes at $2 or $3 million that are being purchased with cash as well.
HA: Even though Houston’s inventory is very low, have you noticed a recent increase in your area?
GN: Yes. The inventory, as its done nationally, did go up a little bit – it came up from 3.3 month’s supply in June to 3.4 month’s supply in July, but it was significantly down from July in 2012, where it was at 5.3 month’s supply. We are seeing a little bit of an uptick in the supply as well.
We’re all hopeful that it will continue to increase, and I think it will. There are a lot of things that are happening right now that are causing people to be wary of putting their homes on the market. One is job growth – people are a little concerned about the economy, especially in light of what’s happening in Washington right now. I think that’s also inhibiting some of the homes coming on the market. The second is interest rates – they went up, but we’re seeing them come down a little bit.