This Week in Houston Real Estate: Local expert talks state of Houston, more multigenerational homes, and more

by James McClister


A lot happened in Houston real estate news this week. If you missed any of these stories, never fear. Here’s what happened:

  • Metrostudy’s Lawrence Dean talks oil and building in Houston – “It is OK,” Dean, senior advisor with Metrostudy, told Realty News Report, describing the state of affairs in Houston’s first quarter real estate market. He added: “It could be a lot worse.” Housing starts in the first quarter were down 10 percent, closings were up 3.6 percent, and the dynamic between the two, he said, tells us that builders are working through their 2015 backlog of spec homes. Dean explained that the surplus of spec homes came as a result of low oil prices leading the market to underperform expectations. This year, builders accounted for reduced performance and now they are “pretty happy.”
  • Multigenerational homes growing in popularity – In 2012, a Pew Research study unveiled a growing trend among both seniors 85 and older, and Millennials ages 25 to 34, living in multigenerational households. Homebuilder Lennar Corp noticed it as well. “About three years ago,” the Houston Business Journal reported, the Miami-based homebuilder introduced its Next Generation, or NextGen, home line, which promised the convenience of two homes under one roof. The homes were designed to comfortably fit two households, but when they were first announced, only two models were made available in two communities. Now, as the Journal confirmed, Lennar is relaunching their NextGen line with nine floor plans, which will be available in 40 communities across Houston.
  • More building, less destroying – After pouring over years of Harris County building and demolition data, researchers from Rice University’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research have determined Houston is building far more than it’s destroying. The key stat from the report, as pointed out in the university’s accompanying press release, was that “at the end of 2015, 15 percent of properties in Harris County contained buildings constructed since 2005, while only 1.7 percent of properties had a demolition permit during that time period.” Authors of the report explained its importance as a matter of understanding the market. Kyle Shelton, program manager for the Kinder Institute’s Urban Development, said, “We walk a lot about where growth and demolitions are happening, now we can see them side by side. Moreover, these tools help us see that some areas experience high demolitions are also home to high construction rates. Others are not. So where some demolitions signal redevelopment and new homes, others point to stagnation and vacancies in the built environment.”
  • Homebuilder points out lacking Exxon homebuyers – In 2015, Exxon Mobil Corp. brought on 10,000 employees at its campus in Springwoods Village, and homebuilders braced for a wave of new work. One year later and in a conversation with HBJ, Gracepoint Homes President Tom Cox described Exxon homebuyers as “unicorns” (i.e. exceedingly rare). The wave of buyers never came, and instead, the 10,000 new employees largely opted for the rental market. Cox has all but given up trying to attract Exxon employees to the homebuying market, saying that “if they show up, they show up.”


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