What Every REALTOR® Should Know About Owner’s Title Insurance

Make sure all of your clients are protected

You’re a real estate agent, so you know that buying a home can be overwhelming for many of your clients. Homebuyers can easily feel confused and frustrated by the mounds of paperwork they have to sign. Plus, all the fees associated with closing can sometimes be a surprise even to an experienced buyer.

Owner’s title insurance is one of those items often misunderstood by homebuyers at closing, yet its value is tremendous. As an important advisor to your clients, you are in the position to help them understand the value of owner’s title insurance and the dangers that can be incurred without it. 

What is title insurance?

Owner’s title insurance is a policy that protects homebuyers’ property rights. For the same reasons that the bank requires a lender’s insurance policy, a homebuyer obtains owner’s title insurance to protect their legal claims to the property. 

How it protects your clients

Say, for example, your client recently purchased a new home from a builder, but the builder failed to pay the roofer. Wanting to be paid, the roofer filed a lien against the property. Without owner’s title insurance, your client would be responsible for paying this existing debt—meaning they’d be paying the roofer out of pocket instead of purchasing something nice for their new home, like new living room furniture. This is just one example of how owner’s title insurance protects homebuyers’ from various significant risks. With owner’s title insurance, your client would be protected from certain legal or financial responsibilities.

Enduring value

The good news is that owner’s title insurance protects homebuyers, as long as they or their heirs* own the home. For a low, one-time fee, homebuyers can know they are protected from inheriting existing debts or claims to their property.

State regulations and CFPB

In Texas, title insurance is regulated by the Texas Department of Insurance. In addition, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) regulates closing and settlement practices which can impact title insurance. Keep in mind that title insurance industry practices vary due to differences in state laws and local real estate customs.

Free resources for Realtors®

Together, real estate agents, land title insurance professionals and other stakeholders involved in real estate transactions can provide homebuyers with the protection they deserve during the home closing process.  For more resources relating to title insurance and the homebuying process, visit: www.republictitle.com/residential-resources

*This advertising offers a brief description of insurance coverages, products and services and is meant for informational purposes only. Actual coverages may vary by state, company or locality. You may not be eligible for all of the insurance products, coverages or services described in this advertising. For exact terms, conditions, exclusions, and limitations, please contact a title insurance company authorized to do business in your location.

September Stats Are In!

The September 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 – August 2020

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


Total Texas housing sales declined 4.1 percent in August from an all-time high the previous month as pent-up demand from the economic shutdown normalized. Nevertheless, sales were up 3.1 percent YTD compared with activity during the first eight months of 2019. Strong demand for housing supported permit issuance, which increased for the fourth straight month to record-breaking levels. Current inventory, however, extended a year-long fall, particularly at the bottom of the price spectrum. That shortage contributed to the shift in the distribution of sales toward higher-priced homes and pushed the median home price up 8.4 percent annually. The Real Estate Center’s Repeat Sales Home Price Index, however, suggested more moderate home-price appreciation while single-family housing sales in September are expected to recover fully from August’s backslide.

Supply

The Texas Residential Construction Cycle (Coincident) Index, which measures current construction levels, increased for the third consecutive month as industry employment, wages, and construction values inched up. The Residential Construction Leading Index also accelerated amid rising permit issuance, suggesting ongoing activity in the coming months. Conversely, the major metros’ leading indexes declined, with the exception of Houston, as multifamily building permits and housing starts dropped. A modest uptick in the real rate of the ten-year Treasury bill also pulled down the leading indexes.

Single-family construction permits increased 6.6 percent, a moderate improvement compared with the previous three months but still reached a record-breaking 14,000 permits. Texas remained the national leader, contributing 16 percent of the national total. All of Texas’ major metros issued post-Great Recession highs after accounting for seasonality, except for San Antonio, where the metric recorded 920 nonseasonally adjusted permits. Houston and Dallas posted 4,768 and 3,906 permits, respectively, while Austin issued 1,854. On the other hand, Texas’ multifamily permits dropped 28.4 percent, with the year-to-date (YTD) sum running 4 percent behind the total during the same period last year.

Total Texas housing starts fell 24.5 percent in August, normalizing to their two-year average as lumber prices accelerated for the fourth straight month. Single-family private construction values also slowed, although growth was still positive at 2.9 percent. The improvement was largely due to Austin values skyrocketing 30.4 percent to a record high. The metric increased modestly in North Texas and decreased slightly in San Antonio, while Houston values backtracked 14.6 percent.

The number of new listings hitting the market has failed to keep pace with sales, pulling Texas’ months of inventory (MOI) down to a record 2.4 months. A total MOI around six months is considered a balanced housing market. Inventory for homes priced less than $300,000 was even more constrained, sliding to less than 1.8 months. The MOI for luxury homes (homes priced more than $500,000), although elevated at 6.3 months, decreased for the third straight month.

Inventory was even more limited in the major metros, falling to 1.2 months in Austin as the MOI for homes priced from $200,000-$400,000 plummeted below one month. In North Texas, the MOI dropped to 1.9 and 1.7 months in Dallas and Fort Worth, respectively. San Antonio’s metric sank to 2.3 months, while Houston’s MOI slipped to 2.7 months.

Demand

Total housing sales decreased 4.1 percent in August from an all-time high the prior month as pent-up demand from the economic shutdown waned. The trend, however, remained on an upward trajectory as low mortgage rates stimulated activity. Every price cohort less than $400,000 registered a decline in sales; on the other hand, a record-breaking 4,000 luxury homes were sold. The number of Texas’ sales transactions so far in 2020 outpaced last year’s eight-month sum by 3.1 percent. National YTD sales fell half a percent relative to the same period in 2019.

Sales also declined at the metropolitan level, most notably in Houston, which registered a 7.9 percent monthly drop. Most of the pullback in activity was due to a reduction in sales for homes priced less than $400,000. The metric in Dallas and Fort Worth decreased 5.2 and 4.1 percent, respectively, while San Antonio sales fell 2.9 percent. Austin was the exception, although the increase in sales was modest. Nevertheless, the metric posted a record-breaking 3,622 sales as the share of luxury homes sold exceeded one-fifth for the first time ever.   

Texas’ average days on market (DOM) slid below year-ago levels to 57 days, corroborating robust demand despite the pandemic-induced recession. The average home in all four major metros sold faster than during August 2019, with the Dallas and Fort Worth metric decreasing to 48 and 44 days, respectively. Austin’s DOM shaved almost two weeks off its reading from last year, falling to 49 days. At 58 days, the DOM in Houston and San Antonio, however, was slightly higher than the statewide average.  

Persistent economic uncertainty surrounding the pandemic kept interest rates at historically low levels. The ten-year U.S. Treasury bond yield inched up slightly but stayed below 0.7 percent*, while the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation’s 30-year fixed-rate was less than 3 percent for the first time in series history (starting in 1971). Mortgage rates extended a year-and-a-half-long slide within Texas during July, falling to 3.18 and 3.21 percent for non-GSE and GSE loans, respectively. The slide in rates pushed home-purchase applications up 15.1 percent YTD in August. Refinance activity continued to normalize after spiking at the onset of the pandemic but still remained 40 percent above year-end levels. (For more information, see Finding a Representative Interest Rate for the Typical Texas Mortgagee.)

In July, the median loan-to-value ratio (LTV) and debt-to-income ratio (DTI) constituting the “typical” Texas conventional-loan Texas mortgage decreased for the second straight month from 86.5 and 35.1 to 82.3 and 33.6, respectively. Meanwhile, the median credit score ticked up from 751 to 758, its highest reading in almost three decades. The median LTV (86.0) and DTI (35.5) of the typical Texas borrower who obtained a loan from a government-sponsored enterprise (GSE) also declined, albeit less drastically than the corresponding components of the typical conventional loan (from 86.7 and 35.6, respectively). The improved credit profiles may reflect tightening lending standards as economic uncertainty looms heading into autumn.

Prices

The Texas median home price flattened at $261,300 in August but climbed 8.4 percent year over year (YOY). The annual growth rate in Central Texas and Dallas surpassed the state average, pushing the median price to $347,800 and $251,000 in Austin and San Antonio, respectively, and $319,800 in Dallas. On the other hand, YOY growth slowed to around 6.5 percent in both Fort Worth and Houston for a median price of $260,700 in the former and $260,600 in the latter. The growth rate in median sale price reflects the relative strength of demand for higher-priced homes as the lower-end of the market has been more vulnerable to recent employment shocks and constrained inventory.

The Texas Repeat Sales Home Price Index accounts for such compositional effects and provides a better measure of changes in single-family home values. The index suggested more moderate home-price appreciation than the change in the median price, but it still accelerated 5.4 percent annually in August compared with 4.2 percent the month prior. Austin’s metric rose at the fastest clip, jumping 8.3 percent and pushing the statewide rate above 5 percent for the first time in three years. The index climbed 5.7 percent in Fort Worth and 5.1 percent in San Antonio. The metric increased more moderately in Dallas and Houston, posting 4.6 percent and 4.1 percent YOY growth, respectively.  

Single-Family Forecast

The Real Estate Center projected single-family housing sales using monthly pending listings from the preceding period (see table). Only one month in advance was projected due to the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic and the availability of reliable and timely data. Texas sales are expected to rebound 13.7 percent in September after decreasing by more than a tenth in August. The desire to capitalize on historically low interest rates is driving home sales with activity in Central Texas and Houston predicted to accelerate around 16 percent, while DFW sales are projected to increase 13.1 percent. Texas’ housing market remains a pillar of the state’s economic recovery.

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* Bond and mortgage interest rates are nonseasonally adjusted. Loan-to-value ratios, debt-to-income ratios, and the credit score component are also nonseasonally adjusted.

Source – James P. Gaines, Luis B. Torres, Wesley Miller, Paige Silva, and Griffin Carter (October 13, 2020)

https://www.recenter.tamu.edu/articles/technical-report/Texas-Housing-Insight

The FAQs of Title Insurance for Homebuyers

For most of us, a home is the largest investment we’ll make in our lives. To buy with confidence, get owner’s title insurance. It’s the smart way to protect your property from legal claims. To help you understand how owner’s title insurance works, here are answers to common questions.

What is title?

Title is your right to own or use your property. Title also establishes any limitations on those rights.

What is a title search?

A title search is an early step in the homebuying process to uncover issues that could limit your rights to the property. After the title search is complete, the title company can provide a title insurance commitment and then, after any requirements are met and closing occurs, a title policy.

What is title insurance?

If you’re buying a home, title insurance is a policy that protects your investment and property rights.

There are two different types of title insurance: an owner’s policy and a lender’s policy.

  1. An owner’s policy is the best way to protect your property rights. Either the buyer or seller may pay for this policy. Ask your title professional how it’s handled in your area.
  2. A lender’s policy is usually required by the lender and only protects the lender’s financial interests. The buyer typically pays for this policy, but that varies depending on geography. Ask your title professional how it’s handled in your area.

Why should I purchase owner’s title insurance?

Owner’s title insurance protects your investment in your property from certain future legal claims regarding ownership of, or liens on, your property. For a one-time fee, you and your heirs* receive coverage for as long as you own your home. The owner’s policy also covers potential legal fees and court costs for settling claims covered by your policy.

What does owner’s title insurance cover?

Sometimes undiscoverable defects can come up after the title search. Under an owner’s title insurance policy, you are protected against certain undiscovered errors in the title.

Title issues include unknown:

  • Outstanding mortgages and judgments, or a lien against the property because the seller has not paid his taxes
  • Pending legal action against the property that could affect you
  • Unknown heir of a previous owner who is claiming ownership of the property

Unforeseeable title claims include:

  • Forgery: making a false document
    • For example, the seller misrepresents the identity of the person who sold the property.
  • Fraud: deception to achieve unfair gain
    • For example, someone steals your identity and either sells your house without your knowledge or consent, or takes out a second mortgage on the property and walks away with the money.
  • Clerical error: inconsistent paperwork and historical records
    • For example, an unforeseeable discrepancy in the property or fence line can cause confusion in ownership rights.

What does owner’s title insurance cost?

The one-time payment for owner’s title insurance is low relative to the value of your home. In Texas, rates are based on the sales price of the property and are set by the Texas Department of Insurance. You can calculate title insurance premium rates using the insurance calculator found on our website.

How long am I covered?

Your owner’s insurance policy lasts for as long as you or your heirs* own your property. Your life will change over time, but your protection never will.

What happens at closing?

Closing is the final step in executing the homebuying transaction and involves signing the documents that allows the creation of your new loan (if applicable), and transfer of ownership to occur. Upon completion of the closing and funding process, you get the keys to your home!

 

*This offers a brief description of insurance coverages, products and services and is meant for informational purposes only. Actual coverages may vary by state, company or locality. You may not be eligible for all of the insurance products, coverages or services described in this advertising. For exact terms, conditions, exclusions, and limitations, please contact a title insurance company authorized to do business in your location.

August Stats Are In!

The August 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 – July 2020

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


Total Texas housing sales rose 17.1 percent in July, exceeding pre-pandemic levels with a record-breaking 36,165 sales amid historically low interest rates and steady demand. Supply-side activity bounced back with large increases in building permits and housing starts. Inventory levels, however, continued to trend downward, falling to an all-time low of 2.6 months. Strong demand and a dwindling number of listings contributed to accelerated home-price appreciation, but the pace ran below the seven-year averages in Texas’ major Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs), except in Austin. Although the Real Estate Center’s single-family housing sales projection suggests activity took a step back in August from July’s high, the outlook remains overall positive.

Supply1

The Texas Residential Construction Cycle (Coincident) Index, which measures current construction levels, increased to its highest level this year as industry employment ticked up. Moreover, the Residential Construction Leading Index posted an all-time high due to record-low interest rates and rising building permits and housing starts, indicating strong activity in the coming months. The major metros’ leading indexes posted solid gains except for the San Antonio metric, which flattened as multifamily starts slowed.

Single-family construction permits rebounded completely from pandemic-related decreases in March and April, accelerating 21.8 percent to a post-crisis high to start the third quarter. Texas remained the national leader, contributing 16 percent of the national total. Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) issued 4,952 and 3,750 nonseasonally adjusted permits, respectively, also peak levels since the Great Recession after accounting for seasonality. Permits increased to 2,077 in Austin and 1,002 in San Antonio. Texas’ multifamily sector improved as well, with permits rising 28.2 percent.

Total Texas housing starts continued to recover from coronavirus-related uncertainty, accelerating 39.8 percent to start the second half of the year just 2 percent below the post-Great Recession high reached in February 2020. Single-family private construction values, however, dipped 1.3 percent in July after two monthly increases. Most of the decrease was due to San Antonio’s 18.2 percent decline, offsetting Houston’s third straight improvement. DFW values ticked down, but the metric in Austin made up for a contraction the previous month.

Extended decreases in the supply of active listings and record sales pulled Texas’ months of inventory (MOI) down to an all-time low of 2.6 months. A total MOI of around six months is considered a balanced housing market. Inventory for homes priced less than $300,000 was even more constrained, sliding to less than 2.1 months. The MOI for luxury homes (homes priced more than $500,000) remained higher at 6.7 months despite dropping for the second straight month.

Inventory reached historical lows in all the major MSAs except for Houston, although the metro’s MOI ticked down to 2.8 months, its scarcest level in six years. The metric in Austin fell to 1.5 months while North Texas inventory slid to 2.1 and 1.9 months in Dallas and Fort Worth, respectively. San Antonio’s MOI inched down to 2.5 months.

Demand

Total housing sales reached a record-breaking 36,165 after climbing 17.1 percent in July, although the rate of increase moderated relative to the prior month. For the first time ever, sales for homes priced more than $400,000 accounted for more than 20 percent of total transactions while the share of sales of homes priced less than $200,000 sank to one-fourth.

Every major metro posted a historical number of sales, rebounding fully from sluggish activity earlier this year amid coronavirus concerns. While economic uncertainty is still prevalent, low mortgage rates and stable employment in the income bracket more likely to buy than rent supported the recovery. DFW led with 10,500 sales, but Houston and Austin registered the largest growth in percentage terms, with sales in each area increasing by one-fifth. Sales rose 12.9 percent in San Antonio, where the YTD sum outpaced transactions during the first seven months of last year by 4.3 percent.

Texas’ average days on market (DOM) stabilized at 64 days, suggesting the fluctuations from the economic shutdown in April have weakened. Similarly, upward momentum slowed to a halt at the metropolitan level. Demand was strongest in Fort Worth with a metric of 51 days. The DOM in Houston and San Antonio flattened to 65 and 66 days, respectively. Austin and Dallas’ DOMs posted solid declines, falling below year-ago readings to 54 days each.

During widespread local and federal eviction moratoria, the national and Texas foreclosure inventories fell to 0.7 and 0.5 percent, respectively, in 2Q2020. A recent extension of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act’s foreclosure moratorium (which prevents the lender or loan servicer from foreclosing on the home) for federally backed mortgages through the end of 2020 will help keep inventories from rising as much as they would under the previous expiration date of August 31. Under the CARES Act, borrowers have the right of up to 12 months of mortgage forbearance (an agreement to suspend payments without penalties).

Persistent economic uncertainty surrounding the pandemic kept interest rates at historically low levels. The ten-year U.S. Treasury bond yield moved above 0.7 percent2, but the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation’s 30-year fixed-rate reached 3.0 percent for the first time in series history (starting in 1971). Mortgage rates extended a year-and-a-half-long slide within Texas, falling to 3.28 and 3.34 percent for nonGSE and GSE loans, respectively, pushing home-purchase applications up 8.3 percent YTD. Refinance activity slowly normalized after spiking at the onset of the pandemic. (For more information, see Finding a Representative Interest Rate for the Typical Texas Mortgagee.)

In June, there was a decrease in the median loan-to-value ratio (LTV) and debt-to-income ratio (DTI) constituting the “typical” Texas conventional-loan mortgage. Meanwhile, the median credit score shot up to an all-time high. The improved credit profile may reflect tightening lending standards as economic uncertainty looms heading into autumn. In contrast, both the median LTV and DTI of the typical Texas borrower who obtained a loan from a government-sponsored enterprise (GSE) increased for the fourth straight month.

Prices

Amid compositional changes in sales, the Texas median home price surged to $261,600 in July, climbing 9.3 percent YOY. Austin led with the greatest median home price of $347,200, followed by Dallas at $313,500. Houston’s metric surpassed the statewide average at $261,800, while the Fort Worth and San Antonio median prices were slightly lower at $257,200 and $252,300, respectively. The growth rate in median sale price, however, reflects the relative strength of demand for higher-priced homes as the lower-end of the market has been more vulnerable to recent employment shocks.

The Texas Repeat Sales Home Price Index accounts for such compositional effects and provides a better measure of changes in single-family home values. The index suggested more moderate home-price appreciation, rising 4.1 percent annually. Fort Worth’s metric tied the state’s in YOY growth, with the San Antonio index close behind, increasing 4 percent. In Dallas and Houston, the index rose 3.0 and 2.8 percent, respectively. On the other hand, price appreciation in Austin accelerated 7.2 percent, driving the statewide increase.

Single-Family Forecast

The Real Estate Center projected single-family housing sales using monthly pending listings from the preceding period (see table). Only one month in advance was projected due to the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic and the availability of reliable and timely data. Texas sales are expected to retreat 12.5 percent in August from July as the rush to capitalize on exceptionally low interest rates wanes and dwindling inventory inhibits activity. The downshift is not surprising given the unsustainable pace set in June and July fueled by pent-up demand from the economic shutdown. Nonetheless, overall monthly sales hover at high levels while the YTD sum through August 2020 is predicted to be greater than the sum of single-family sales in the first eight months of 2019. The estimated decline in the number of transactions from July to August 2020 is expected to be steepest in Houston, with sales projected to fall 16.4 percent. Dallas and San Antonio single-family sales are projected to decrease around 13 percent each, while Austin’s metric is projected to drop just 8.3 percent. Despite the slowdown, Texas’ housing market remains a pillar of the state’s economic recovery.

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

2 Bond and mortgage interest rates are nonseasonally adjusted.

Source – James P. Gaines, Luis B. Torres, Wesley Miller, Paige Silva, and Griffin Carter (September 14, 2020)

https://www.recenter.tamu.edu/articles/technical-report/Texas-Housing-Insight

REALTOR® Safety Tips

September is REALTOR Safety Month and there are tons of helpful safety tips to consider while showing real estate. Whether it be a safety strategy, safety apps, or hosting an open house, we hope that you find these tips useful.

Preview the Neighborhood
Preview the neighborhood and home before you show the home. Check for cell reception and familiarize yourself with entry and exit points in the home. If you cannot preview the home before showing it, at least review the floorplan so you know escape points.

Open House Safety
Don’t assume that everyone has left the premises at the end of an open house. Check all of the rooms and the backyard prior to locking the doors. Be prepared to defend yourself, if necessary.

Charged Cell Phone
Make sure your cell phone is fully charged when you are out showing.

Hide Personal Information
Tell your sellers: DON’T leave personal information like mail or bills out in the open where anyone can see it. Lock down computers and lock up laptops and any other expensive, easy-to-pocket electronics before your showing.

Nothing Personal
When talking to clients and prospects, be friendly but still keep your personal information private. This means avoiding mention of where you live, your after-work or vacation plans, and similar details.

Carry Less
If you carry a purse, lock it in your car trunk before arriving at an appointment. Carry only non-valuable business items (except for your cell phone), and do not wear expensive jewelry or watches, or appear to be carrying large sums of money.

Have an Excuse Ready
Having an excuse in mind can help you out of an uncomfortable situation. For example, you have to return an important missed call.

Take a Self Defense Class
Check with your broker to see if they would be willing to host a self-defense class at your office or call your local police department for additional class resources.

Download Safety Apps
There are dozens of safety apps for your phone that are specifically designed with REALTORS in mind. The majority of these apps provide GPS locating to your broker or emergency contacts when you’re out showing and let you enter in information about who you are meeting. The Nationals Association of REALTORs has a great list of safety apps on their website.

Make sure to check with your brokerage for any security measures that they have put into place.

For more real estate safety tips, visit nar.realtor/safety

Source: nvar.com, nar.realtor

July 2020 Stats Are In!

The July 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 – June 2020

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





Total Texas housing sales rebounded almost 30 percent after three straight monthly declines corresponding to the initial wave of domestic COVID-19 cases. Falling interest rates and pent-up demand from the economic shutdown supported sales in the existing-home market and for new homes priced less than $300,000, pushing the Lone Star State’s second-quarter homeownership rate up to record-breaking levels. Ongoing uncertainty surrounding the virus, however, dampened supply-side activity in the second quarter with reduced lot development in all the major metros except for San Antonio and downward-trending building permits and housing starts. Although the pullback in construction is likely to be temporary, the decrease will exacerbate already low inventory levels.

Home-price appreciation accelerated in June after slowing to start the quarter. Nevertheless, housing affordability improved during the low interest rate environment and overall moderate price growth. The Real Estate Center’s single-family housing sales projection suggests a complete recovery in single-family homes sales will be reflected in July numbers. COVID-19 remains the greatest obstacle to the Texas housing market, and the resurgence in contracted coronavirus cases and hospitalizations in July could reverse progress.

Supply*

The Texas Residential Construction Cycle (Coincident) Index, which measures current construction levels, dipped slightly as construction values fell and hiring slowed. On the other hand, the Residential Construction Leading Index almost reached the post-recessionary high from December as interest rates continued to decrease and permits and housing starts picked up, suggesting positive momentum in the next few months. At the metropolitan level, Austin was the only major metro where the leading index decreased, pulled down by multifamily building permits.

According to Metrostudy, activity at the earliest stage of the construction cycle picked up slightly as the number of new vacant developed lots (VDLs) in the Texas Urban Triangle increased 3.5 percent quarter over quarter (QOQ). All of the second-quarter upturn, however, is due to VDLs in San Antonio more than doubling, with the $200,000-$300,000 price range accounting for most of the rebound. Houston and Austin’s 14.7 and 20.7 percent declines, respectively, kept total VDLs in negative YTD growth territory. The metric in Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) ticked down 2.9 percent QOQ but the decrease slowed.

Despite sluggish activity to start the second quarter, single-family construction permits remained on track to exceed last year’s total after recovering 14.6 percent in June. Texas remained the national leader, contributing 16 percent of the national total. Nonseasonally adjusted permits increased to 1,105 and 4,028 in Fort Worth and Houston, respectively, almost reaching peak levels after accounting for seasonality. San Antonio permits rose to 889, while Austin and Dallas issued 1,540 and 2,358 permits, respectively. On the other hand, Texas’ multifamily fell 22.1 percent, declining for the third consecutive month.  

Total Texas housing starts rebounded 27.9 percent on a monthly basis but extended a downward trend. MetroStudy data revealed less than 26,000 single-family homes broke ground in the Urban Triangle during the second quarter, a 4.3 percent decline. Houston accounted for most of the decrease, with starts sinking 16.3 percent QOQ. The San Antonio metric fell for the second straight quarter, but activity in the $500,000-and-higher price range accelerated. In Austin and Dallas, however, starts increased 1.4 and 4.7 percent QOQ, respectively, with improvement in North Texas widespread.

After a brief reprieve in May, single-family private construction values decreased for the third time in four months, declining 18.8 percent. Quarterly construction values dropped across all four major metros due to the effects of the pandemic, ranging from a 22.75 percent plummet in DFW to 30.1 percent in Houston.

A dwindling supply of active listings and a resurgence in home sales pulled Texas’ months of inventory (MOI) down to an all-time low of 2.8 months. A total MOI around six months is considered a balanced housing market. Inventory for homes priced less than $300,000 was even more constrained, sliding below 2.1 months. The MOI for luxury homes (homes priced more than $500,000) also decreased, falling to 7.2 months.

Austin and San Antonio posted record-low inventories of 1.6 and 2.6 months, respectively. The MOI in Dallas declined to 2.3 months, while the Fort Worth metric dropped to 2.1 months. Only Houston maintained a MOI above the state average at three months.

Demand

Pent-up demand and record-low mortgage rates pushed total housing sales up 29.4 percent in June. Improvement stemmed from a pickup in existing-home sales transactions as activity in the new-home market stalled after a year of solid growth. Sales accelerated more than 6 percent QOQ for new homes priced less than $300,000, but the $400,000-and-higher price range took a large step back. The divergence exemplifies the increasing demand for more affordable homes as many millennials become first-time homebuyers.

Fluctuations in second-quarter new-home sales varied across the major metros. Houston posted its sixth consecutive improvement, pushing transactions to 8,732. San Antonio new-home sales rebounded 16.1 percent QOQ to 3,640 after faltering to start the year. Although activity in DFW decreased during the second quarter, North Texas remained the top market with 9,100 transactions. Austin extended a downward trend, selling only 4,736 new homes after reaching an all-time high in 4Q2019.

Despite falling sales in April and May, Texas’ 2Q2020 homeownership rate rose its highest level on record (beginning 1996) at 67.5 percent, lessening the gap between the national rate to only half a percent, the smallest in eight years. National homeownership rates were higher across all races, including minorities. At the metropolitan level, Austin registered the greatest increase in homeownership, rising almost 6 percentage points to 65.3 percent. The metric in DFW and San Antonio ticked up to 64.7 and 66.2 percent, respectively. Houston boasted the state’s highest percentage of occupied housing units that were owner-occupied at 68.2 percent. Homeownership, however, could suffer as COVID-19 foreclosure-protection policies expire.

Approximately two months after the forced economic shutdown, Texas’ average days on market (DOM) inched up to 64 days, at least partially due to slower activity during April. The major metros recorded softer demand. Houston and San Antonio’s metrics exceeded the state average, rising to above 64 and 65 days, respectively. The average home in North Texas sold after 59 days in Dallas and 51 days in Fort Worth. Austin was the exception, as the DOM decreased to 53 days compared with 57 days this time last year.

Continued uncertainty stemming from the ongoing spread of the coronavirus pandemic kept interest rates at historically low levels, although increased oil prices slowed the downward slide. The ten-year U.S. Treasury bond yield ticked above 0.7 percent, but the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation’s 30-year fixed-rate sank below 3.2 percent for the first time in series history (starting in 1971). Mortgage applications for home purchases rose 9.8 percent, jumping into positive YTD growth territory. Refinance activity decreased for the third straight month but remained at levels one-and-a-half times greater than at year-end.

Elevated volumes of mortgage applications corresponded to falling Texas mortgage rates. (For more information, see Finding a Representative Interest Rate for the Typical Texas Mortgagee.) In May, the median back-end debt-to-income ratio (DTI), loan-to-value ratio (LTV), credit score, and interest rate constituting the “typical” conventional-loan Texas mortgage were 36.10, 85.57, 747, and 3.35 percent, respectively. The typical Texas borrower who obtained a loan from a government-sponsored enterprise had a DTI of 36.14 and LTV of 87.49 while receiving an interest rate of 3.45 percent.

Prices

The Texas median home price jumped 3.9 percent to $249,100 in June after subdued growth to start the second quarter. Annual price appreciation accelerated 4.2 percent. Movements in metropolitan median prices moved similarly to statewide fluctuations, with Austin’s metric leading the state at $324,700. The median price shot up to $298,800 in Dallas and exceeded $250,000 in Fort Worth and Houston. San Antonio’s median home price increased to $240,800.

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 corroborated healthy price appreciation, rising 4.5 percent YOY. The metric in North Texas also advanced, jumping 3.1 in Dallas and 4.3 percent in Fort Worth. The Austin and Houston indexes slowed but maintained healthy growth of 5.6 and 2.6 percent, respectively. Meanwhile, price appreciation in San Antonio stabilized at 3.5 percent.

Slower home-price growth and historically low interest rates increased housing affordability in Texas’ major metros during the second quarter. Houston and Fort Worth were the most affordable locales, with both indexes climbing to 1.8, indicating that a family earning the median income could afford a home 80 percent more than the median sale price. The metric in Austin and Dallas registered double-digit YOY gains, exceeding 1.7 and 1.6, respectively, with the former posting a five-year high. Meanwhile, San Antonio’s index rose steadily to 1.7. Continued improvement is important to Texas’ demographic advantages that have supported the state’s economic prosperity over the past decade.

Single-Family Forecast

The Real Estate Center projected single-family housing sales using monthly pending listings from the preceding period (see Table 1). The Center projected only one month in advance due to uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic and the availability of reliable and timely data. Sales are expected to rebound completely from the pandemic-induced shutdown in July. Texas single-family sales are estimated to increase 22 percent, while Houston should outshine the other metros with 25.2 percent growth. In Austin and Dallas, single-family sales are projected to bounce back 24.6 and 22.6 percent, respectively. San Antonio’s improvement is forecasted to be slightly lower than state’s at 17.8 percent but still sizeable nonetheless. Texas’ housing market recovery has so far outpaced its labor market’s less steady comeback.

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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 (August 12, 2020)

https://www.recenter.tamu.edu/articles/technical-report/Texas-Housing-Insight

6 Ways To Grow Your Real Estate Business By Using LinkedIn

LinkedIn is one of the most under-rated but highly valued networking sites you can be using in 2020!  The most important thing to remember about LinkedIn, at its core, it is an online resume.  It’s also likely to be among the first handful of results to come up on a Google search, and might be the first place a potential client looks to review your credentials.  Most clients won’t choose a real estate agent who appears to lack knowledge, education and expertise.  So it’s wise to set yourself up for success and utilize this powerful tool.

So, YES, LinkedIn is extremely important and a must-have in today’s digital world.  It’s also the perfect place to promote yourself, your real estate listing, and boast about the skills you bring to the table.

Here are the top 6 things you should focus on with LinkedIn:

  • Your Profile:

Fill out each section to include all levels of education, all accreditations and current and past positions.  Include a high quality professional photo of yourself.  Be sure to include a LinkedIn Banner image that includes a call-to-action (your phone number, your email, etc).  Your headline should be catchy and stand out.  Be sure to fill in your summary section to include real estate listings and other statistics that will jump out to potential clients.  Be sure to use keywords or phrases (real estate, real estate agent) throughout your headline and your summary to increase search engine optimization.  Also encourage previous clients to give you a recommendation so your LinkedIn profile is a non-stop shop for anyone who comes across it.  Upload videos and links to enhance your profile.  Customize your URL and use it everywhere (advertising, business cards, posts, etc).

  • Connections:

61% of real estate agents on social media view it as a way to connect to the community.  LinkedIn revolves around businesses, employees and their connections, so it’s the perfect network for real estate agents who work in an industry predicated on connections, referrals and being involved in the community.  Reach out to everyone in your sphere, alums, etc.  Remember LinkedIn is the best social media platform for professional networking, which means connect with everyone.  Take advantage of the biggest networking platform ever!

  • Content:

This is where many real estate professionals go wrong.  What doesn’t work is just content about listings (remember the 80/20 rule) in hopes of generating sales leads.  What does work is highlighting your professional experience, education and network strength.

Try these 6 content ideas to maximize your effectiveness on LinkedIn:
    1. Share real estate news, industry updates or trends.  Don’t forget to include a caption with your thoughts and opinions as well as a call to action soliciting others opinions and thoughts.  Remember, it’s about engagement so ask questions.
    2. Share information or updates about your local city.  Remember people are very patriotic when it comes to the city they live in, so find local information to share.  Also, now that LinkedIn allows the use of hashtags, include local hashtags in all your posts so anyone searching for that hashtag might come across you, and in turn check out your profile.
    3. Thoughtful and conversational posts.  Try something that will resonate with others such as your struggles, wins, inspiration, or something you overcame.  These are going to be the best conversation starters you can share on LinkedIn.  As real estate agents, you go through a lot, so sharing that will resonate with your audience.
    4. Networking events you’ve attended.  Include connections you made and give them an @mention, photos, food, the service, highlight the event, the vibe and your takeaways.  It shows your connecting with people in your local city.  Often times you’ll hear people say, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.  That’s why this works.
    5. Native video uploads.  Every platform, whether it’s Facebook or Instagram, wants you to use the video feature that is native inside the program.  This doesn’t mean go to YouTube and share it to LinkedIn.  It means, open up a post on LinkedIn and use their Video icon and shoot native video within LinkedIn.  This will keep connections engaged longer in the LinkedIn program and hopefully on your profile.  Our best recommendation for video ideas would be “value added” for the consumer (i.e., Buyer/Seller Tips, Market Updates, community highlights, business you’ve interviewed, etc.).
    6. Write LinkedIn Articles.  When you write an article on LinkedIn, everyone in your connection list receives a notification.  You couldn’t ask for better advertising than that.  If you are a blogger, this is a perfect place to use the content you’ve already created and post it within LinkedIn as an article.

So, take the time, get your profile set up for success, start connecting with former and current clients, friends, colleagues, etc. and work on creating great content.