Texas ranked among top job creation states

Houston's job market remains strong.Affirming its place as one of the top-performing states in the country in the aftermath of the recession, a recent Gallup (http://www NULL.gallup NULL.com/poll/146402/North-Dakota-Washington-Best-Job-Markets-2010 NULL.aspx) poll finds that Texas has one of the top job markets in the country.

According to the report, Texas ranked as the eighth-best job market in the country, with a job creation index of 14 – meaning there is a 14 percentage point difference between the number of workers who feel their companies are expanding and those that are contracting.

Texas' rating was double the overall average of 7. Nationwide, 28 percent of respondents said their companies were hiring, while 21 percent said they were contracting.

It's the third consecutive year in the top 10 for Texas. The top state in the country for jobs, according to the report, was North Dakota, which has an unemployment rate of just 3.9 percent, according to the Department of Labor.

Strong jobs numbers have also boosted the Houston real estate market. According to data from the Texas Workforce Commission, businesses in the area added nearly 23,000 jobs last year.

Pending home sales fell in January

Pending home sales have fallen.The National Association of Realtors Pending Home Sales Index dropped 2.8 percent in January, falling from a mark of 91.5 in December to 88.9 last month.

Despite the drop, pending housing sales are doing much better than they were last June (http://www NULL.marketwire NULL.com/press-release/Pending-Home-Sales-Decline-in-January-1402874 NULL.htm), when the rate was 20.6 percent lower. The pace of sales for the month of January was 5.36 million. This is slightly higher than the expected number.

"The housing market is healing with sales fluctuating at times, depending on the flow of distressed properties coming on the market," said Lawrence Yun, the chief economist for the National Association of Realtors.

More good news for Houston real estate is that the index indicated that the South rose 1.4 percent to 97.7. The number is currently 0.4 percent below last January, but is well above the national average.

The Houston real estate market has been higher in many areas than the rest of the country, but it is still not out of the woods. Demand for Houston homes is still where it was a few years ago.

Survey: Sellers fare better using Realtors than trying on their own

Sellers tend to fare better using Realtors than selling on their own.A recent survey discovered that those who sell their houses with a Realtor had a 50 percent higher success rate than those who went the "for sale by owner" route.

The survey was done by HomeGain (http://www NULL.prweb NULL.com/releases/2011/2/prweb8153150 NULL.htm), and questioned over 1,000 homeowners. The closing rate for those who used a Realtor was nearly 50 percent higher than those who decided to sell by themselves. Out of the people that were polled, 83 percent used a realtor, while 17 percent attempted to sell their home without one.

Louis Cammarosano, the general manager of HomeGain. said, "It is especially striking that homeowners fare significantly better in selling their homes using a Realtor than selling on their own.”

Cammarosano added that it says something about the abilities of Realtors to be able to have such a success rate selling homes.

Currently, the Houston real estate market is faring better than a great deal of the country, but it is still a difficult market for sellers. Specifically, Houston foreclosures are selling for much lower than other types of sales, a trend that is seen across much of the U.S.

Report: National home prices drop, but changes in patterns are seen

Report says prices dropping nationally.Purchase prices for U.S. homes dropped by 3.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2010, according to research released this week by S&P/Case-Shiller, but some large urban markets began to exhibit different trends.

The chairman of the company's index committee, David Blitzer, said in a statement that the trajectories of some major housing sectors have begun to diverge.

"Unlike the 2006 to 2009 period when all cities saw prices move together, we see some differing stories around the country. California is doing better with gains from their low points in Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco. At the other end is the Sun Belt – Las Vegas, Miami, Phoenix and Tampa. All four made new lows in December," he said.

Although Houston real estate was not specifically studied in the report, experts say the general trend for the area is good. Other recent studies – while not revealing any skyrocketing property values – showed generally positive movement and definite signs of an ongoing recovery from the housing crash.

Further evidence of sunnier days ahead for Houston real estate with green building announcement

Green buildings coming to Houston marketA firm of green home builders will showcase eight new models of eco-friendly housing in a large-scale open house event on March 5 and 6, GreenEco Builders announced today.

The company's sales manager, Wayne Green, said the company was focused on building its homes the right way.

"GreenEco's success is a result of our commitment to providing the highest quality of construction, and features for the best value, rather than the lowest price," he said.

The company also announced that, in addition to the environmentally friendly features present on all of its homes, prospective homebuyers were being offered assistance with down payments and closing costs, credit repair help, and mortgage tax credit certificates.

Experts say the news of these new green developments comes on the heels of the news that Houston home prices had increased for the first time in seven months as of January. This could mean that the time to get into the market could be right now, if the upward pricing trends continue.

Houston home prices continue climb as national market turns

Home prices may be picking up nationwide.A report from Clear Capital (http://www NULL.clearcapital NULL.com/company/MarketReport NULL.cfm?month=February&year=2011) finds that home prices in the Houston real estate market have continued to climb while the national market may also be beginning to turn.

According to the report, home values in Houston have risen 1.7 percent over the three-month period ending in January and 5.6 percent over the previous 12. The quarterly price gain was the ninth-best in any city nationwide.

At the same time, national home prices dropped 1.6 percent over the quarter. But economists say they saw an uptick in prices during the final months of January.

"This recent national change in price direction is encouraging for the overall housing sector, yet it is still too early to determine whether this current uptick in home prices is a temporary reprieve or the start of a sustained recovery," said Dr. Alex Villacorta, senior statistician at Clear Capital.

Even if prices start to gain ground, they still have a long way until the equity lost in the recession is earned back. According to the Case-Shiller home price index, home prices in November were 30 percent below their peak levels.

Report: Houston home prices to slip

Home prices in Houston may slip this year before rising again.While prices in the Houston real estate market have remained relatively level, a report from Fiserv (http://investors NULL.fiserv NULL.com/releasedetail NULL.cfm?ReleaseID=546740) says that the median home price will slide slightly in the early part of this year.

According to an analysis of data from the Federal Housing Finance Agency, the firm says that the local median home price will drop 0.5 percent from the third quarter of last year through the third quarter of this year. However, in the year following that, prices should rebound and gain 1.4 percent.

On a national level, the firm says that home prices should stabilize in 75 percent of cities by the end of this year, and everywhere by the end of 2012.

However, the report added that despite affordable homebuying conditions across much of the country, tight lending standards from banks would dilute some of that impact.

Buyers will need a decent credit score just to be approved for a loan. According to a report last year from Zillow.com, borrowers with credit scores below 620 were unlikely to be approved for a loan, even if they had a larger down payment.

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