The Census and North Texas Real Estate

What is the census?

The 2020 census aims to count every living person in the United States and five U.S. territories. In mid-March, homes across the country began receiving invitations to complete the 2020 Census. Once the invitation arrives, you should respond for your home in one of three ways: online, by phone, or by mail. When you respond to the census, you’ll tell the Census Bureau where you live as of April 1, 2020.

Why is the census so important?

Responding to the census largely affects the amount of funding your community receives, how your community plans to allocate those funds, and the amount of representation your community receives in the government. Results from the census determine the distribution and allocation of $675 billion in federal funding to hospitals, schools, libraries and housing programs, among others.

How does the census affect real estate?

Results are especially important for REALTORS as the data will inform the federal government about housing needs, demands, and trends. It also helps real estate investors decide where to build new homes, businesses and improve various neighborhood aspects. Ensuring a correct counting of the number of people in the state of Texas helps to provide billions of dollars in infrastructure funding as well as multiple congressional seats. Responses from this census will help produce statistics about homeownership and renting, data which serves as one indicator of the nation’s economy.

At Republic Title we want to help insure that all of our customers elect to be counted in the census and want everyone to know that your personally identifiable information is protected by law and cannot be shared outside of the Census Bureau.

Additional Census Resources

For more information on the census, visit

Thanks to our friends at Collin County Association of REALTORs who made videos in 26 different languages explaining the census.


Sources: , ,


Texas Housing Insight – March 2020 Summary

Here is the March 2020 Summary from Texas A&M Real Estate Center.


Please note this review does not account for the impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak but reflects the market through March 2020.

With half the month affected by the domestic coronavirus outbreak, total Texas housing sales decreased 4 percent in March, but still resulted in moderate first quarter growth. This decline does not bode well for second quarter home sales, when shelter-in-place and stay-at-home orders were implemented, increasing the reluctance of potential buyers and sellers to visit and show homes for sale. Supply-side activity decelerated amid uncertain economic conditions, but average days on market indicated steady demand. Median home-price appreciation remained stable, corroborated by the Texas Repeat Sales Home Price Index. The coronavirus outbreak is the greatest threat to the Texas housing market since the 1986-90 recession via disruptions to buyer and seller confidence, the negative income shock, and wariness of visiting and showing homes for sale. Preliminary effects showed in the March data with more significant impacts almost certain to appear during the second quarter of the year.


Contemporaneous and anticipated construction levels took a step back in March after reaching post-recessionary highs the prior month, signaling a coronavirus-induced downturn. The Texas Residential Construction Cycle (Coincident) Index, which measures current construction levels, declined due to industry wage and employment cuts. Decreased building permits and housing starts offset falling interest rates, pulling the Residential Construction Leading Index down.

According to Metrostudy, activity at the earliest stage of the construction cycle cooled as the number of new vacant developed lots (VDLs) in the Texas Urban Triangle declined 5.4 percent quarter over quarter (QOQ) after reaching a post-recessionary high in 3Q2019. Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) and San Antonio VDLs fell for the second straight quarter, most notably in the $300,000-$400,000 price range. On the other hand, Austin’s VDLs exceeded its average in 2019 while Houston lot development surged to a record-breaking 10,700 amid accelerated activity in the lowest-priced cohort (homes priced less than $200,000).

Quarterly fluctuations in the major metros’ single-family construction permits reflected movements in VDLs. On a month-over-month basis, issuance slowed across the board, although Texas continued to lead the nation in nonseasonally adjusted permits on both the state and metropolitan levels. Houston and DFW topped the list, issuing 4,116 and 3,506 monthly permits, respectively. Austin ranked fifth after Phoenix and Atlanta with 1,869 permits, while San Antonio permits numbered 966. Meanwhile, Texas’ multifamily permits fell about 5 percent QOQ despite monthly improvements in March.

Total Texas housing starts normalized after skyrocketing the previous month, decelerating to 4.6 percent QOQ growth. In the single-family sector, Metrostudy data confirmed strong supply-side activity in Houston with a post-crisis record 9,000 homes breaking ground in the first quarter. Dallas and San Antonio single-family starts flattened to start the year after reaching post-recessionary highs the previous quarter. In Austin, starts showed signs of normalizing after rapid growth during 2019.

Following solid improvement to start the year, single-family private construction values dropped nearly 6 percent in March to end the quarter with modest growth. San Antonio continued to correct downward after a rapid climb during the second half of 2019. Austin construction values decelerated in 1Q2020, while Houston’s showed signs of flattening. Values in North Texas, however, accelerated 6.4 percent QOQ.

Decreased sales slowed the decline in Texas’ months of inventory (MOI), which settled at 3.2 months. A total MOI around six months is considered a balanced housing market. Inventory for homes priced less than $300,000 (where four-fifths of total sales take place) held at 2.5 months as a sizeable reduction in sales offset a downtick in the supply of active listings. In the luxury home market (comprised of homes priced more than $500,000), the MOI fell below 7 months but remained elevated compared to the lower-priced cohorts.

Movements in inventory levels differed among the major metros. The San Antonio MOI dipped to an all-time low of 2.9 months, while North Texas inventory slid below 2.5 months in Dallas and 2.3 months in Fort Worth. On the other hand, Austin’s metric ticked up above 1.7 months as fluctuations in the metro’s inventory for homes priced under $300,000 mirrored the state’s change. Houston registered broader increases for an overall MOI of 3.7 months with only luxury home inventory shrinking (but still exceeding eight months).


As COVID-19 concerns affected the showing and visiting of homes for sale, particularly during the last half of the month, total housing sales fell 4 percent in March with decreases in every price cohort. The monthly decline, however, was more palatable than the 10.2 percent national plummet. Moreover, Texas sales increased 2.2 percent QOQ, exceeding the countrywide growth rate of 1.4 percent.

Monthly resale transactions contracted in each of the major metros for a statewide drop of 3.3 percent, but changes in quarterly sales volumes differed. Dallas and San Antonio existing-home sales rose 4.9 and 3.5 percent QOQ, respectively, with the latter maintaining positive momentum. Houston also exhibited an upward trend albeit at a more moderate rate, increasing 1 percent QOQ. In Austin and Fort Worth, quarterly resale volumes fell flat.

In the new-home market, homes priced more than $300,000 accounted for the 2.1 percent QOQ increase in the Texas Urban Triangle. North Texas and Houston new-home sales surged 7.8 and 5.2 percent, respectively, with the latter recording improvement five quarters in a row. Momentum in Central Texas faltered as sales declined 1.5 and 7.2 percent in Austin and San Antonio, respectively, from post-crisis records at year end.

Ahead of the most serious coronavirus impacts, Texas’ homeownership rate rose to its greatest level since 2012 at 64.4 percent in 1Q2020, just one percentage point less than the U.S. rate. On the metropolitan level, all four major metros registered an increase in homeownership. Houston reached a post-recessionary high of 65.5 percent, while the San Antonio metric also exceeded the statewide average with 66.1 percent homeownership. In Dallas and Austin, homeownership was slightly lower at 62.6 and 58.9 percent, respectively. Homeownership rates could suffer as COVID-19 foreclosure-protection policies expire later this year.

Texas’ average days on market (DOM) flattened at 59 days, indicating still-healthy demand. Houston’s and Fort Worth’s DOMs steadied at their yearlong averages of 58 and 44 days, respectively. The San Antonio metric ticked up slightly to 62 days, but the average home sold after only 50 days in Austin and 51 days in Dallas. The downward trends confirmed robust demand despite falling sales.

The domestic coronavirus outbreak and falling oil prices pulled interest rates down in March. The ten-year U.S. Treasury bond yield dropped to 0.9 percent, while the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation’s 30-year fixed-rate remained less than 3.5 percent. While applications to refinance home loans doubled in the first quarter, mortgage applications for home purchases fell 11.3 percent in March amid reduced showing and visiting of houses and an uncertain economic climate. Decreased home purchase mortgage applications may indicate a slowdown in sales in the coming months.


The Texas median home price rose to $249,000, a 5.8 percent YOY increase. Austin pushed the statewide metric upward, posting double-digit home-price appreciation for the second straight month as the median home price reached $337,200. In San Antonio, the median price accelerated 6.6 percent YOY to $241,000. However, home-price appreciation moderated in North Texas and Houston where the median prices remained below record highs. The Dallas metric hovered at $298,100 as Fort Worth’s and Houston’s declined to $249,000 and $249,400, respectively.

The Texas Repeat Sales Home Price Index, a better measure of changes in single-family home values, provides insight into how Texas home prices evolve. The index indicated more moderate annual home price appreciation of 3.8 percent, but the rate of change steadied, similar to the median home price. The same phenomenon was observed on the metropolitan level (growth rates for each metro’s median home price exceeded its respective index, but the pace trended in the same direction). Austin’s index maintained a rapid clip, rising 5.9 percent YOY. The Dallas and Houston indices also picked up, increasing 2.5 and 3.0 percent, respectively. Growth in Fort Worth’s and San Antonio’s indexes slowed but remained slightly elevated at 3.6 and 3.4 percent, respectively. Favorable housing affordability relative to other parts of the country supported the Lone Star State’s economic growth in the years following the burst of the housing bubble a decade ago. Texas needs to maintain affordability for the housing market to remain a stalwart in the impending recession and subsequent recovery.  

The data reported here reflect only preliminary COVID-19 impacts on the Texas housing market, although the Saudi-Russian oil price war greatly affected the energy commodities and related employment in March. The anticipated events of the next few months and the revised economic expectations for the second half of the year will overshadow recent optimistic conditions. The government stimulus bill signed late in March allowing forbearances on federally backed mortgage loans, moratoriums on evictions, and direct financial payments to Americans earning within an income threshold will aid current homeowners, but is unlikely to spur additional, immediate-home sales.

The Real Estate Center forecasted single-family housing sales using monthly pending listings from the preceding period (see table). The Center projected only one month in advance due to the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic and the availability of reliable and timely data. In April, statewide sales are expected to fall by more than three times as much as during March, plummeting 14.4 percent. Austin and North Texas activity may act similarly. Houston and San Antonio single-family sales, however, are predicted to nosedive around 17.4 and 12.2 percent next month after relatively moderate decreases of 3.0 and 3.5 percent, respectively, in March.


All measurements are calculated using seasonally adjusted data, and percentage changes are calculated month over month, unless stated otherwise.

Source – James P. Gaines, Luis B. Torres, Wesley Miller, Paige Silva, and Griffin Carter (May 11, 2020)


Taking Fear Out of a Fearful Market

As business continues to shift each day and we are all working in this new normal, we asked Shaun Neidigh, Vice President/Business Development for a sneak peek at his new Mind Over Market class where he discusses fears in the market and how to overcome the six roadblocks that might be holding you back.

Mind Over Market with Shaun Neidigh

Real Estate can be a rollercoaster for many of the people that call it their career. For many of us, the rollercoaster ride does not come from the market itself but rather how we adapt to the changes it brings. As we all know, there are many reasons why change happens in the real estate market. When talking to our peers in real estate, one major theme that came up repeatedly when discussing change was the element of fear.

Let’s start by identifying what fear really is. According to, fear is defined as an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat. Many people believe there are two distinct types for fears, real fear and physiological fears also known as phobias. Specifically for this article we are focusing on physiological fears and how they can control the decisions and direction of our real estate career.

While researching this topic to develop our Mind Over Market class, we interviewed several Realtors and were able to come up with six specific areas, or roadblocks, that agents seemed to struggle with that had a direct impact on their business.

  • Fear of the contract
  • Fear of talking to people
  • Fear of no business
  • Fear of too much business
  • Fear of competition
  • Fear of having a difficult decision

In our class Mind over Market, we go into great detail on these six roadblocks and how each one can impact all levels of experience for both individual real estate agents and large teams. We look at how developing daily task regiments and the idea of “living by your calendar” can help organize your mind and take some of the anxiety out of the things we can and can’t control. We highlight the use of your relationships (especially when you are new to the business) and how those relationships can blossom into partnerships for a long career in real estate. Finally, we discuss the tools available to real estate agents that if put into practice can set the stage for true success no matter what type of market is given to us.

At Republic Title, we want to be a resource for your success. Our Mind Over Market class is one of many educational opportunities that we provide to help you take your business to the next level. To learn more about this class or any others, please reach out to Republic Title’s Education Department at

How to Host an Open House Using Facebook Live

Open Houses are a vital part of buying a home. For agents who have had to cancel all their open houses due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, this can impact your ability to sell properties. Thankfully, Facebook LIVE offers agents the opportunity to tour clients through a listing during a real-time, interactive broadcast – a Virtual Open House. The best part is that you don’t need any fancy equipment or a huge crew, just your smartphone and a Facebook page. In this post, we discuss everything you need to know about using Facebook live to tour your clients through a listing. Don’t let this COVID-19 pandemic prevent you from hosting an open house.

What is Facebook Live?

Facebook Live allows you to broadcast a conversation, performance, Q&A or virtual event. You can go live on a Page, in a group or an event, and your live videos will also appear in people’s New Feed. For more information on Facebook Live, visit:

How to Set Up Your Facebook Live Open House

Now that we’ve discussed what Facebook live is, it is now time to talk about how to set it up. Below are some practical steps/directions to make going LIVE easy.

How to Create an Event from Your Page:

  • Go to your Business Profile Page (or your personal page-but remember FB rules-if your advertising you should be doing this on your FB Business page).
  • Tape to “Create” a post and choose “Event” from the list.
  • Add an event photo, perhaps the front of the house, then enter your event’s title, location, date, and time.
  • Save the event, then post a link to your listing, and send to your clients!

How to go LIVE from your Page:

  • Go to your Business Profile Page (or your personal).
  • Tap “Create a Post” and choose “LIVE” from the list.
  • Make sure the app has access to your camera and microphone.
  • Set permissions to “Public”.
  • Add a description to the video – highlight the house information.
  • Tap “Start Live Video” to being your Open House Live!

Useful Links:

Below are some useful links that explain how to go live on Facebook

How to Properly Advertise Your Facebook Live Open House

To ensure people show up, think about the strategies you use to generate awareness for your actual open house. People need to know when and where. That is why it is so important to properly advertise your open house. If you don’t properly advertise it, people won’t know about it and as a result won’t show up. Below are some things that you should do to advertise your Facebook live open house.

Use Facebook Events

You can use Facebook Events to get your Open House on their calendar, send updates and reminders. You can create an event on Facebook by navigating to your News Feed, clicking on Events and then Create Event.

Send Out Email Blasts

Send an email blast to your network letting them know when to tune in to your Facebook Page for the LIVE; include a link to your Facebook Page. Post those same details on your website, and your listings. There are many email marketing programs online that you can use including Constant Contact, Mail Chimp, and iContact.

Use Direct Outreach

Directly reach out to potential buyers from your cancelled Open House and invite them – this will make them feel like a VIP. Maybe you already advertised this Open House prior to the shutdown or have advertised it via Social Media.  Contact those leads and invite them to your virtual open house.  You could also personally invite all the neighbors in a 10-20 house radius.

How to Host an Open House Using Facebook Live

Your first time broadcasting live can be a little intimidating, but if you do some pre work, things can run rather smoothly. Your audience expects information and authenticity over production quality. Below are some tips on how to host an open house using Facebook live.

Prepare Beforehand

Plan your tour the same as you would with a live client. Where are you going first, what are you highlighting in each room? It never hurts to rehearse. Making a good first impression is important.  Declutter the home, make sure it is clean, remove as much personal items as possible, etc.

Be Sure to Introduce Yourself

You should always begin your Facebook live open house by introducing yourself, sharing your credentials, and top lining what’s great about the home. Building trust with your audience is key to success. Introduce yourself with confidence and grow your personal brand. Potential buyers, on the other hand, get to know  you before ever meeting.   Agents are encouraged to show their personality on camera, be memorable, and most of all – be honest and bring value to the audience.

Remind People Who You are and What Property You’re Touring

Introducing yourself just once at the beginning of your Facebook live tour is not good enough. This is because people may come in and out while you’re LIVE. Therefore, it is critical that you periodically remind them who you are and what property you’re touring.

Interact with Your Audience

Interact with your audience; build in time for each room to pause and answer questions from the comments. If you know your audience well enough, you can engage them by spending extra time on the parts of the property that matter most. If they have pets, show them the ample yard and the fencing. If they are interested in the appliances, go in for a close-up of the high-end appliances, etc.  Personalization is essential to success.

What to do After You Go Live on Facebook

After the LIVE stream is over, the video becomes on-demand content, which can then be shared, downloaded, edited, and re-purposed. It is highly likely that even more people will see your LIVE tour AFTER you’re finished. Here are some things to do after you go live on Facebook.

Send the Link of The Live Stream Your Clients

You can use links to the “Live After” video on your listings and send to clients who missed the tour. To help boost your viewership among people who didn’t join you for the live show, try sharing a quick post thanking people for watching.

You can also ask for new questions and comments to generate additional engagement. The people who view your videos like to feel appreciated, so show them some love wherever you can.

Save and Edit Your Video

Save your live video to edit. You can use a shorter clip to post on your page. Think of these as house highlights.The agent now has video content that can be shared on Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, or even email.

Read Comments from Your Audience

Use comments from the audience to gauge what type of information they are looking for about the property and tailor your future ad to these comments. 

Follow Up with Prospects

Follow up with your prospects on Messenger, they may eventually be interested in putting in an offer. The fact is, your prospects are on Facebook already if they are commenting on your video while it’s live.  After guests leave your virtual open house, use messenger to interact, engage and ask questions.  Nurture those leads now even if they choose not to buy.

PRO Tips:

You don’t need a whole crew to have a decent production. Here are some tips to help you feel like a Pro:

  • Test your connection throughout the house so you know if there will be any connectivity issues.
  • Turn off notifications before you begin your broadcast!
  • When you’re in rooms, consider placing the phone on a tripod for stability while you speak.
  • As you are walking or panning through a room, go SLOWLY – slower than you think necessary, as fast jerky actions can be disorienting. Consider using a stabilizer.
  • Have the listing information handy in case you get a question.
  • Watch some other home tour videos – note what you like and what you think doesn’t work.

Texas Housing Insight – February 2020 Summary

Here is the February 2020 Summary from Texas A&M Real Estate Center.

Please note this review does not account for the impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak but reflects the market through February 2020.

Prior to the domestic coronavirus outbreak, Texas housing sales increased 2.3 percent in February during healthy economic conditions and low interest rates. Housing demand was robust, although inventories were constrained, especially for homes priced less than $300,000. Strong supply-side activity, however, was poised to alleviate some shortages. Home-price appreciation accelerated, but the Repeat Sales Index suggested more moderate price growth. The coronavirus outbreak is the greatest threat to the Texas housing market via disruptions to building material supply-chains, the negative income shock, and wariness of visiting and showing homes for sale. These effects may show up in the March data but will likely have a significant impact during the second quarter of the year.


Contemporaneous and anticipated construction levels reached post-recessionary highs in February. The Texas Residential Construction Cycle (Coincident) Index, which measures current construction levels, ticked up amid industry wage and employment improvements. Falling interest rates and increased building permits and housing starts supported growth in the Residential Construction Leading Index.

Single-family construction permits extended a yearlong upward trend, rising 1 percent. Texas led the nation with 11,211 nonseasonally adjusted permits, accounting for more than 17 percent of the U.S. total, but ranked sixth in per capita issuance. At the metropolitan level, Houston topped the list with 3,515 permits but actually declined 1.8 percent after adjusting for seasonality. Austin and Dallas comprised most of the state’s increase, issuing 1,631 and 2,486 nonseasonally adjusted permits, respectively. San Antonio permits fell to 773, but the metric remained elevated in Fort Worth at 954. In the multifamily sector, permits decreased 5.6 percent after a modest start to the year.

Texas housing starts surged 21.5 percent to its greatest post-crisis level with improvements in both the single-family and multifamily sectors. On the other hand, single-family private construction values dropped 4.7 percent after adjusting for inflation. As with permits, Houston was responsible for most of the contraction. Austin and DFW values flattened, while San Antonio only partially recovered from a 13 percent plunge in January.

Record sales and a dwindling supply of active listings pulled Texas’ months of inventory (MOI) down to an all-time low of 3.2 months. A total MOI around six months is considered a balanced housing market. The MOI for homes priced less than $300,000 fell to 2.5 months, while inventory for luxury homes (those priced more than $500,000) also declined but remained elevated at 7.5 months. This disparity exemplifies the shortage of affordable housing, although efforts have been made to more closely match demand and supply.

Inventory in the major metros decreased across the board. Austin maintained the most constrained inventory with an MOI of 1.7 months, followed by Fort Worth at 2.3 months. The Dallas and San Antonio metrics slid to 2.7 and 3.0 months, respectively. After a brief expansion to start the year, Houston’s inventory fell below 3.7 months as the metro’s supply of active listings contracted for the first time in six months, largely due to reductions in the lower price ranges.


After stalling the previous month, total housing sales during February rose 2.3 percent in an environment of low interest rates and solid employment growth. Sales for homes priced more than $400,000 accounted for much of the gain, whereas activity for homes priced less than $400,000 decelerated.

In nearly all of the major metros, sales for homes in the luxury price bracket were the greatest contributor to overall closings. Central Texas sales increased 2.2 and 2.1 percent in Austin and San Antonio, respectively, while Dallas sales rose 3 percent. Although sales for higher-priced homes in Fort Worth climbed 10.3 percent, total sales flattened as activity in other price ranges took a step back. Houston was the exception. Homes priced between $200,000-$400,000 comprised two-thirds of the city’s overall 4.8 percent improvement.

Texas’ average days on market (DOM) ticked down to 58 days, indicating healthy demand. The metric stabilized at 56 days in Houston and at 53 and 43 days in Dallas and Fort Worth, respectively. Demand was especially robust in Austin, where the DOM declined to 49 days after shedding more than a week off its year-ago level. San Antonio’s DOM ticked up slightly to 62 days but hovered around its seven-year average.

Growing concerns over the coronavirus outbreak and falling oil prices pulled interest rates down in February. The ten-year U.S. Treasury bond yield decreased to 1.5 percent, while the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation’s 30-year fixed-rate fell below 3.5 percent. Mortgage applications for home purchases slowed but maintained 2.7 percent year-to-date (YTD) growth. Refinance activity remained sluggish from month to month, although the number of applications received was astronomical relative to the same period last year.


The Texas median home price accelerated 6.3 percent YOY to $249,100 as demand strengthened and inventory shrank. Austin’s median price reached double-digit YOY growth for the first time since 2015, skyrocketing nearly 13 percent to $335,600. The metric in San Antonio ($242,000) and Houston ($252,100) rose 6.8 and 6.4 percent, respectively. On the other hand, home-price appreciation softened to around 5 percent growth in North Texas, resulting in a median price of $297,500 in Dallas and $249,100 in Fort Worth.

The Texas Repeat Sales Home Price Index, a better measure of changes in single-family home values, provides insight into how Texas home prices evolve. The index indicated more moderate annual home price appreciation of 3.2 percent. Except for in San Antonio, where the metric picked up its pace to rise 3.4 percent YOY, the metropolitan indices’ growth rates slowed from the month prior. The Austin index registered just 4.6 percent growth compared with the metro’s much greater home-price appreciation. Houston’s index increased 2.8 percent, while the Dallas and Fort Worth indices rose 2.5 and 2.9 percent, respectively. Favorable housing affordability relative to other parts of the country supported the Lone Star State’s economic growth in the years following the burst of the housing bubble a decade ago. Texas needs to maintain affordability for the housing market to remain a stalwart in the impending recession and subsequent recovery.  

The data reported here indicate the strength of the Texas housing market prior to the domestic COVID-19 outbreak and plunge in oil prices. The events of the past month and the economic expectations for the second half of the year will overshadow recent optimistic conditions. The government stimulus bill signed late in March allowing forbearances on federally backed mortgage loans, moratoriums on evictions, and direct financial payments to Americans earning within an income threshold will aid current homeowners, but it is unlikely to spur additional home sales.  Even though we expect the real estate sector will be less affected than many other industries, the Center’s 2020 housing projections will in all probability be reached. The total impact of the impending recession on Texas’ housing market is yet to be seen.

Source – James P. Gaines, Luis B. Torres, Wesley Miller, Paige Silva, and Griffin Carter (Apr 10, 2020)

February 2020 Stats Are in!

The February 2020 DFW area real estate statistics are in and we’ve got the numbers! Take a look at our stats infographics, separated by county, with MLS area stats on each county report as well! These infographics and video are perfect for social sharing so feel free to post them!

To see past month’s reports, please visit our resources section here.

For the full report from the Texas A&M Real Estate Research Center, click here. For NTREIS County reports click here.

Texas Housing Insight – January 2020 Summary

January 2020 Summary

Please note this review does not account for the impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak but reflects the market through January 2020.

Texas housing sales stabilized in January after reaching a record high the previous month. Steady employment growth and falling mortgage interest rates continued to support housing demand, as exemplified by increased mortgage applications and a downtick in the average days on market. Inventories were constrained, especially for homes priced less than $300,000, but renewed permit issuance indicates positive construction activity in 2020. Although home-price appreciation has moderated over the past few years, tight supply levels put additional affordability pressure on top of lackluster average wage growth. Due to the coronavirus outbreak, there may be disruptions to building material supply chains and the visiting and showing of homes for sale, threatening the Texas housing market. These effects will probably be reflected in the second quarter of the year.


The Texas Residential Construction Cycle (Coincident) Index, which measures current construction activity, balanced after trending upward for four straight months as construction employment growth slowed. The Residential Construction Leading Index dipped slightly as housing starts decreased but hovered around the post-crisis high, suggesting solid levels of construction in the coming months.

Fourth quarter private bank loan data corroborated stable construction activity at the end of the year, increasing 0.8 percent quarter over quarter (QOQ). Multifamily investment climbed throughout 2019, rising 2.1 percent to $8.6 billion during 4Q2019. The one-to-four unit sector, however, stalled through the second half of the year after reaching a cycle-high in 2Q2019 of $7.7 billion.

Single-family construction permits started the year strong, increasing 3.2 percent to a post-recessionary high after a sluggish end to 2019. Texas led the nation with 11,100 nonseasonally adjusted permits, accounting for more than 17 percent of the U.S. total but ranking eighth in per capita issuance. At the metropolitan level, Houston topped the list with 3,565 permits, followed by DFW with 3,370. Austin permits increased to 1,472 while maintaining the highest per capita rate in the Texas Urban Triangle. In San Antonio, monthly permits surged to 846. Texas’ multifamily sector increased issuance in January but failed to recover to levels reached in 3Q2019 after falling at year end.

Decreased permitting activity in the last months of 2019 weighed on total Texas housing starts in January, falling 7.3 percent amid a drawback in the single-family sector. The trend, however, remained on a strong upward trajectory. Meanwhile, single-family private construction values dropped 11.1 percent to their lowest level since June 2019 after adjusting for inflation, corroborating loan value data. After reaching an all-time high in October, San Antonio construction values trended downward, comprising half of the monthly decrease. The metric declined for the second straight month in Austin and DFW. Houston values, however, reached an annual high after improving 3.3 percent.

Strong sales activity chipped away at the state’s supply of active listings. Texas’ months of inventory (MOI) fell for the third consecutive month to 3.4 months. A total MOI around six months is considered a balanced housing market. The MOI for homes priced less than $300,000 fell to 2.7 months, while inventory for luxury homes (those priced more than $500,000) remained elevated at eight months. This disparity exemplifies the shortage of affordable housing, although efforts have been made to more closely match demand and supply.

Inventory in the major metros was even more constrained than the statewide average. Austin’s MOI fell to an all-time low of two months, while the Dallas and Fort Worth MOIs ticked down to 2.9 and 2.4 months, respectively. San Antonio’s metric registered less than 3.4 months as inventory for homes priced less than $300,000 dropped to levels unseen in more than a year after gradual improvement during 4Q2019. Houston was the exception as the metro’s supply of active listings continued to rise despite strong sales activity, boosting inventory to 3.9 months.


Total housing sales during January flattened just below record levels reached at year end. Nonseasonally adjusted sales for home priced at the lower end of the market (less than $200,000), however, were well below the series’ January historical average. Sales volumes within the price range fell year over year (YOY) despite lower interest rates and solid demand fundamentals amid inventory constraints at the lower end of the market. Homes priced less than $200,000 constituted 36 percent of total monthly sales versus 72 percent in 2011.

Sales activity in the major metros cooled after accelerating during the fourth quarter. Houston sales corrected downward 2.2 percent from an all-time high in December, while Dallas monthly sales stabilized at a record 6,000 after increasing 11.3 percent at year end. In Austin, sales for homes priced $200,000-$400,000 stalled as inventory tightened after strong activity in 2019, pulling overall sales down 1.3 percent in the MSA. San Antonio extended a steady upward trend, although Fort Worth sales volumes flattened at their annual average.

Texas’ average days on market (DOM) stabilized at 59 days, indicating healthy demand. San Antonio and Houston’s DOMs hovered around the statewide level at 59 and 58 days, respectively. In Austin, the metric averaged 51 days, shedding ten days from its year-ago level. The DOMs in Dallas and Fort Worth trended upward for most of 2019 after low levels between 2015-17 but showed signs of stabilizing at 55 and 44 days, respectively.

After speculations of a U.S.-China trade truce supported modest increases in interest rates during 4Q2019, U.S.-Iranian military strikes and initial news of the coronavirus outbreak pulled rates down in January. Current economic fundamentals at the state and national level, however, remain healthy. The ten-year U.S. Treasury bond yield fell below 1.8 percent, while the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation’s 30-year fixed-rate decreased to 3.6 percent. After declining the previous month, mortgage applications for home purchases increased 9.1 percent. Refinance activity stumbled on the month, but the overall trend remained positive considering refinance mortgage applications nearly tripled during 2019.


The Texas median home price flattened to $247,200, although YOY growth hovered around 5.6 percent for the second straight month amid strong sales and inventory contractions. The nationwide existing-home median price increased 6.8 percent YOY to $283,200 compared with Texas’ existing-home price of $239,800. The gap between the U.S. and Texas new-home median price ($352,600 and $293,000, respectively) widened to $59,000 in January after averaging $30,000 in 2019.

Movements in the median home price varied on the metropolitan level. Houston and Austin each shed $1,900 off their median home price, pulling the metric down to $247,800 and $320,400, respectively, while the median price in San Antonio steadied at $236,200. North Texas, however, registered $5,800 and $9,000 increases in Dallas ($302,800) and Fort Worth ($254,200), respectively. The rise in the former may be explained by the recent surge in sales whereas the latter’s price hike is likely an upward correction after falling $7,600 over the previous two months.  

The Texas Repeat Sales Home Price Index, a better measure of changes in single-family home values, provides insight into how Texas home prices evolve. The index indicated more moderate annual home price appreciation of 3.6 percent. Strong demand and dwindling supply pushed Austin’s index up 5.9 percent YOY. Home prices in Houston and Fort Worth increased at a pace of 2.7 and 3.6 percent, respectively. Meanwhile, the Dallas and San Antonio indexes rose just 2.4 percent YOY each. Except for in Austin, home price growth in the major metros has stabilized at more moderate levels than during 2014-17. Persistent wage improvement that outpaces home price appreciation, however, is necessary to maintain overall housing affordability, which remains a challenge to the Texas home market.

Source – James P. Gaines, Luis B. Torres, Wesley Miller, and Paige Silva (March 10, 2020)…

census document form and ball point ink pen on American flag for 2020

Why Texas REALTORS® Should Pay Attention to the 2020 Census

The constitutionally mandated decennial census that the U.S. will undertake in 2020 will affect many aspects of your business and community. Data from the census is used to draw political district lines, determine how many congressional representatives states receive, and distribute billions of dollars in federal funds to states and local communities. 

An undercount of your community may threaten federal funds for local programs, affect infrastructure projects, and muddy the data private companies use to target expansion or investment. Shad Bogany, a past Texas REALTORS® chairman and partner specialist with the U.S. Census Bureau, has been working to get the word out about how important the 2020 census is to REALTORS® and what they can do to educate their communities.

“The census affects our business more than any other business,” Bogany says. “Whether you’re a part-time agent, full-time agent, or broker, you should want to get everyone counted in your community.”

Read more about the census process, what the 2020 census affects, and how REALTORS® can help in Texas REALTOR® magazine, and check out the resources and tips for getting involved at

Source: February 17, 2020 –

What is Survey Deletion Coverage?

Survey Deletion Coverage is often also referred to as “Survey Deletion”, “Survey Amendment”, and “Survey Coverage.”  When survey deletion coverage is given in the title policy it offers Buyers protection for errors or omissions that may have been made by the surveyor and accepted by the title company by changing the language in the “standard exception” of the title policy to read “Shortages in Area” only.  The “standard survey exception” in a title commitment or policy (before being amended) reads:

“Any discrepancies, conflicts, or shortage in area or boundary lines, or any encroachments or protrusions, or any overlapping of improvements.”

 Upon receipt of an acceptable survey, the title company may amend this exception to read “Shortages in area” only.   Things that a title company will look at to determine if a survey will be acceptable include, but are not limited to, the following:  that items noted on the survey are listed in the title commitment, verify the legal description, check platted building lines and platted easements, and other matters such as the seal and signature of the engineer, date of the survey, and north directional arrow. 

Survey Deletion is addressed in paragraph 6. A. (8) of the TREC One to Four Family Residential Contract, where the parties select between the options of amending or not amending the standard exception in the title policy and who will be responsible for the payment of the premium.

There are other issues that may show up in the review of a survey, such as a building or driveway or fence over a building line, or into a platted easement.  When this happens, the title company may still accept the survey and amend the standard exception to read “Shortages in Area” only, but will generally add a special exception on Schedule B of the title commitment and owner’s title policy for any of these issues that were shown on the survey.              

The cost of survey deletion coverage on residential transactions is 5% of the Owners Title Policy Premium, and is 15% of the Owner Title Policy Premium in a commercial transaction.

For more information on Survey Deletion Coverage, download our Survey Deletion Coverage Q&A flyer 

Professional teamwork and network connection technology concept, Double exposure of arab Business man handshake to his business partner with digital graphic against city night background in meeting

Bridging the Settlement and Lender Divide in a Digital World

Republic Title’s Dennis Pospisil, Senior Vice President of Digital Settlement and Signing Services recently sat down with eOrignal to talk about bridging the lender and settlement divide in a digital world. Check out the conversation here:

eOriginal: What barriers do you see standing in the way of a completely digital real estate experience?


I think engagement and adoption across the industry is crucial, but certain barriers may exist, like having the necessary equipment to support the adoption of digital mortgages. For example, consider escrow agents using a mobile notary. Are they prepared, willing and ready to take digital closings on the road with them? Has everyone (and I do mean everyone) involved in the closing had the required training? Are they setup in the system with logins, etc.?

The other thing that concerns me is the existence of multiple platforms. Is that scalable for settlement companies? Are settlement companies willing to receive transactions across multiple systems?

On a different side of the transaction, are loan officers willing to adopt and change what the closing experience and celebration will look like? Will they partner for the future by thinking about what they want the closing experience to look like in the years to come?

These are a few of the questions I believe the industry should consider as we move into this digital era.


Many people subscribe to the “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it” philosophy, but sometimes it is about making an existing way of doing things better. To continually be relevant in the market, you have to ask, “Can we make it better?  If so, how?” I don’t see enough mortgage professionals focusing on those questions.

There are other barriers directly related to finances. For example, some settlement companies are not setup properly for high speed internet nor, in some cases, do they possess technology like tablets, laptops, and/or other items that are necessary to conduct a completely digital closing.

Lastly, there are practical barriers unique to our industry, such as legislation and the county clerks’ offices in the areas we serve. Does your state have legislation in place supporting remote online notarization (RON)? Does your state have legislation in place supporting the papering out of eSigned recordable documents? What about the steps necessary to bridge the traditional method of recording with the non-traditional method of eSigning?

Unique barriers are going to exist outside of these thoughts, so those interested in supporting digital closings must identify and work through them one at time.

eOriginal: What do you think is on the horizon? How about 5 to 10 years from now?


First, I think we’ll see additional RON legislation in various states. We are still at the beginning of this new digital age and several states still don’t have legislation in place to allow remote online notarization. You also have some states with RON legislation in place but with a few key elements still missing or being worked on, like a “papering out” bill. As an example, Texas should expect a “papering out” bill to pass very soon, as early as September 2019.

On the seller side of real estate transactions, I see RON making a shift towards a new and more convenient experience. The borrower side is probably heading in that direction as well, but from a settlement agent’s perspective, we’ll have to see how each of our lending partners adopts the concept of digital settlement, since it isn’t something we can control.

Then we have AI, or artificial intelligence, and machine learning, which are big ticket items beginning to play a role in the life cycle of the real estate transaction. They are still some time away, but it’s fascinating to read about all the work and projects already underway.

To help the readers understand the interplay a bit better, consider AI as the broader concept of machines being able to carry out tasks in a way that we would consider “smart.” Machine learning is a subset or current application of AI based around the idea of providing machines access to data and letting them ‘learn’ for themselves. Within our space, we are already seeing some of the large-scale real estate sites using AI for home or rental recommendations.


I agree with Dennis’s comments. At Fairway, the experience delivered to the consumer is critical, and we see settlement agents as a crucial component to ensuring that experience is positive, both now and into the future.

The mortgage industry is moving quite quickly. On the one hand, you have the proposed Uniform Residential Loan Application (URLA) changes that are happening, and on the other hand we see many different investors, programs, and products available, so it takes a lot of effort just to keep up with our market. Then factor in the Ginnie Mae offerings and the move toward digital transactions, and it’s clear that this is an exciting time to be in mortgage!

eOriginal: Where can others go to learn more about digital mortgages and lender and/or settlement agent best practices?


They’ve already found one resource, this blog article. Others worth visiting include:


Adding to the list that Teri provided I’d say the following are good resources:

To view the full webinar, please visit



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