Every week, we ask a Houston real estate professional for their thoughts on the top three stories from the week before. This week, we featured Shannon Cobb-Evans, broker of Vonnie Cobb Realtors, Inc., a family owned-business in Houston that began in 1969. A veteran of 32 years in the industry, Cobb-Evans is also a director for the Houston Association of Realtors and the Texas Association of Realtors.
Houston Agent (HA): How is Houston’s foreclosure market doing? Are you noticing improvements?
Shannon Cobb-Evans (SE): In 2013, the foreclosure market in Houston dropped 48 percent. There are not a lot of foreclosures out there right now, and I’m not expecting a big increase of them this year. It could be that mortgage companies and banks – because of policy – maybe aren’t releasing them. It also could be that people are more qualified when they purchase a home. We’re just not seeing so many foreclosures. It’s really good news, especially if you’re a seller.
HA: Have you noticed an increase in asking prices in Houston?
SE: We started seeing this last year, where if you put a good property on the market, we are getting multiple offers and it’s driving the prices over list price. I had one last year that had 14 offers on it in three days, and it sold $20,000 over full price. I priced it at the top of the market when I listed it, but with the inventory as low as it is, prices are being driven over full price. Ted Jones, the chief economist with Stewart Title in Houston, predicts that prices will slow down in 2014, but we should still expect to see a 5-6 percent increase in the sales price.
HA: What other predictions do you see for the Houston housing market in 2014?
SE: The leasing market has been extremely strong. There are a lot of young people not committing to purchasing; they’re happy to lease, and we’re seeing a very strong rental market. We’re seeing a lot of professionals that aren’t into taking care of homes and maintenance, and they’re committed to their jobs and their careers. They’re happy with a more minimal lifestyle. The construction and everything for apartments in Houston, especially close to downtown, is incredible. The rental market is very strong – residential markets and everything – and I think we’ll continue to see that trend.
Also, I’m curious to see what rates will do this year; there’s been talk of interest rates creeping up a little bit, and sometimes that’ll get people off the fence. A little tick up is not always a bad thing in interest rates; it can spur some additional activity, as well. I think it forces people to think, “This may be as low rates go; I want to get on board before they continue to go up.”