employment growth

In Texas, it’s all about jobs, jobs, jobs.

A new report from the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University says that the Texas economy gained 276,400 nonagricultural jobs from June 2014 to June 2015, an annual growth rate of 2.4 percent, compared with 2.1 percent for the United States. Many of the major metropolitan areas saw much bigger gains, like Midland-Odessa.

Midland ranked first in job creation, followed by Dallas-Plano-Irving, Odessa, Beaumont-Port Arthur, Austin-Round Rock, and San Antonio-New Braunfels. Fort Worth-Arlington ranked No. 7 with 2.7 percent job growth.

In fact, every single Texas metro areas except Wichita Falls had more jobs in June 2015 than one year prior.

Big sectors for job growth were:

  1. Leisure and Hospitality: 5.05 percent growth
  2. Education and health services: 3.87 percent growth
  3. Professional and business services: 3.54 percent growth
  4. Transportation, warehousing and utilities: 3.52 percent growth
  5. Construction: 3.34 percent growth

All these new jobs in the Texas economy were created despite lower oil prices. Real Estate Center research economist Ali Anari says there hasn’t been much impact from dropping oil prices yet. But that could change.

“The oil companies hedged into the future and they have oil contracts, many of them extending to the end of this year,” Anari said. “If there is a downtown, it would not be apparent until next year.”


Photo courtesy Charleston's TheDigitel via Creative Commons

Photo courtesy Charleston’s TheDigitel via Creative Commons

DFW rents were 6.2 higher last year, averaging $919 per month, but demand still soared, with North Texas leading the nation in apartment rentals, and vacancies at a 13-year low, according to new real estate research from Zillow and MPF Research.

The increased rent translated to an extra $600 million paid to landlords last year, Zillow reported. For North Texans, that meant a median increase of $35 a month, higher than the nationwide rate of $26.

Rising rents are nothing new, said Zillow Chief Economist Stan Humphries.

“Over the past 14 years, rents have grown at twice the pace of income due to weak income growth, burgeoning rental demand, and insufficient growth in the supply of rental housing,” he said. “This has created real opportunities for rental housing owners and investors, but has also been a bitter pill to swallow for tenants, particularly those on an entry-level salary and those would-be buyers struggling to save for a down payment on a home of their own.”

For 2015, expect more of the same.


While the city tries hard to keep up with the influx of new residents with new water towers, housing is still a tight market it Midland.

While the city tries hard to keep up with the influx of new residents with new water towers, housing is still a tight market it Midland.

This report from the Texas Tribune tells a scary tale for troubled children and teens in the fast-growing areas of Midland-Odessa. It’s impossible to find housing in the oil-boom areas of West Texas, which means that critical workers, including state Child Protective Services caseworkers, have no place to live.

This has resulted in a necessary transciency for some staffers of the over-taxed CPS offices that oversee Midland and Odessa, which may mean that some cases and some children who are victims of abuse are slipping through the cracks:


Lance Armstrong Lake Austin

I guess it’s good to be in the middle of the pack sometimes, especially when it comes to making lists that label cities and towns as “Most Expensive” or “Most Affordable” real estate markets. It’s a lot like dating, right? You don’t want to come off as too easy, or seem too prude, either, when you’re meeting someone for the first time.

Well, Dallas doesn’t have that problem, and neither does Austin, Houston, or San Antonio. In fact, no Texas towns made Coldwell Banker’s “apples-to-apples” comparison of more than 1,900 towns in their Home Listing Report. The report, which compares similarly sized four-bedroom, two-bath homes across the nation shows where potential homebuyers will pay the most, and the least, for what they get.

This year’s report has Malibu coming in first as the most expensive place to find a four-bedroom home at $2,155,900, not a shock to anyone familiar with the exclusive beach community that is practically littered with celebrities. What’s really interesting is that the top five most expensive cities are all in California — Newport Beach, Saratoga, Los Gatos, and San Francisco. In fact, only three towns outside of California managed to squeak into the top 10 — Stone Harbor, NJ, at No. 6; Orono, Minn., at No. 8; and Weston, Mass. at No. 9.

Coming in as the most affordable is Cleveland, Ohio, where you can find a good family home for just $63,729. The “Most Affordable” list is a bit more diverse than the “Most Expensive” list, with Ohio, Michigan, New York, Georgia, Florida, Missouri, and Illinois, having more than one city on the list.

Are you shocked that this report skipped Texas altogether, with no mention of how pricey Austin is getting for single-family homes?


You’d think that rising interest rates would slow the real estate market, but that’s not the case for the Dallas Area. According to Jim Gaines, an economist at the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University, Dallas-area pre-owned home sales are up 20 percent year-over-year.

In a conversation with Steve Brown, Gaines had this to say:

“I keep thinking it’s going to slow down, but it hasn’t so far,” said Dr. James Gaines, an economist with the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University. “Yes, the rates are higher and the builders may be feeling it a little, but really, the rates are still very good and don’t seem to be hindering sales much.

“Also, if people expect the rates to continue to increase, they’ll buy now rather than wait.”

Still, even though rates are increasing, fellow Real Estate Center economist Mark Dotzour says Texas needs builders to step up the pace when constructing new homes:

The demand for single-family homes and condos is still outstripping supply. It will take time for home builders to staff up to higher levels of production. It will also take time before there are sufficient construction loans to finance this higher level of activity. In the meantime, inventories of homes for sale are likely to remain at breathtakingly low levels. Expect higher prices in the coming months.

So, with higher prices and higher rates on the horizon, do you think the market will slow?

I wonder how hard it is for him to get his mail these days with how often Lance Armstrong is changing addresses. Armstrong’s adventure in Austin real estate started in Dripping Springs with his mammoth custom estate, but I am sure his catalogs and magazines are going to be at least a month late considering that, in the past three months he’s had three different addresses. Just six weeks after buying his Lake Austin modern hideaway, Armstrong bought his most recent home from former Texas lieutenant governor Ben Barnes.

Want a breakdown of Armstrong’s former abodes? See our list below:

1) Dripping Springs Custom Home

Lance Armstrong Dripping SPrings

On 447-plus acres in Dripping Springs, Armstrong’s vacation home was initially listed for $12 million, but was later sold for around $8.5 million to a Carrollton software executive. The huge mansion, dubbed Mirasol Ranch, had more than 7 miles of hike-and-bike trails surrounding it.


2) Spanish-style home in Camp Mabry

Lance Armstrong Austin Home

Back when he was still a hero to cancer survivors and cyclists, Lance Armstrong renovated this huge, 8,000-square-foot Spanish mansion in Camp Mabry. The mansion, which was featured in Architectural Digest, was sold to Austin businessman Al Koehler for a third of the asking price.

2) Modern hideaway on Lake Austin

Lance Armstrong Lake Austin

Purchased for $4.3 million, Armstrong moved into this modern home on Lake Austin shortly after selling his Camp Mabry property. The modern Austin-stone and metal house was a whopping 12,500 square feet and boasted some incredible views. Apparently it wasn’t a good fit, because six weeks later …

3) Home of former Texas lieutenant governor Ben Barnes


… he sold the Lake Austin home to racecar driver Bret Curtis. There aren’t many photos of the 7,200-square-foot 1924 Mediterranean mansion Armstrong just bought from friend and embattled former politician and lobbyist Ben Barnes (pictured above), but the significantly smaller estate in Austin’s Old West neighborhood is on the Travis County tax rolls for $2.7 million. There’s no telling how long Armstrong plans to inhabit this house, but considering his recent buying and selling spree, I’d keep your checkbook handy if you’re interested.

Update 11:08 p.m.: Here’s Steve Brown’s take on the shrinking Dallas real estate market. If you don’t want to read it, he’s basically saying what I said: fewer bargains, less inventory, and we may be inching towards a seller’s market!

I am so excited to be on Daybreak with that precious Ron Corning, who, as it happens, went to the same college I went to, Wheaton College in Norton, Mass. (Or, as my husband says, the “heathen Wheaton”. This one is NOT Billy Graham’s alma mater.) Besides Ron’s taste in paint colors, we are going to talk about how there are way fewer homes on the market these days! If you are looking to buy, you need to arm yourself with the latest info and read this blog RELIGIOUSLY. Hip pockets abound: those are homes not formally on the market or in MLS.

Is t just me, or are there more FSBO’s, too?

How bad is it? Listings in North Texas are down by almost a quarter from last year! That’s from the huge NTREIS system that stretches from the outskirts of Waco up to the Red River:  22% fewer listings than there were a year ago! That’s because sellers fear losing money on declining home values or went out and leased their homes to ride out the storm. Builders aren’t really building spec homes, though some of the volume builders like Darling are doing great in Collin County. Bottom line: there’s now way less to choose from.

In February of 2006, when the market was getting on steroids, 26,793 homes were for sale in Dallas. Two years later (2008) 29,206 were available. Flash forward to February 2011, only 22,868 homes were on the market. February 2012 stats are not out yet but in January, 2012, there were only 16,721 homes on the market in Dallas

Thats a 4.7 month supply in Dallas. Six months is considered healthy.

There’s even less in Collin County, which is down to a 3.5 month supply. This is just happening in Texas, by the way. With apartment rents rising there’s a good chance we might see some price appreciation, say experts, but I think they are building so many apartments the competition will temper rents. More details on Daybreak, so tune in IF you can get up that early… you know me, that’s about the time I usually wrap blogging and go nighty night. But to sit next to Ron is well worth getting up with the chickens!


Sean Payton and fam are now officially imbedded in the Lone Star State and you know what that means: they are now card-carrying Texans! In early January, Sean and his wife bought a stunning 7,785 square foot home in a delicious part of Vaquero that is honestly one of the most beautiful homes I’ve seen out there, maybe anywhere. I mean, no offense NOLA, but you would not find a house like this in Louisiana. No way Jose. PLEASE check out this slide show for detailed photos.

2006 Brazos Court is nestled into a cozy Vaquero cul se sac overlooking a pond. The kids can go fish whenever. The home has 7785 square feet, was built in 2006 and features stunning contemporary interiors. Each bathroom has those generous Farmer’s sinks that you usually only see in kitchens, and take note of the Master bath in that slide show: most gorgeous tile ever plus steam shower and a romantic rock fireplace. I love this idea of using the Farmer’s sinks everywhere! (One of my design pet peeves is teeny tiny sinks that let water splash all over tarnation.)

The home has stained concrete floors as well as wood, marble and stone. The foyer has stacked stone walls and a 100 year old giant dark wood antique door, it’s like being in a rock church vestibule. There are five bedrooms, four and a half baths — guess they may need to add a few more according to my latest research — and three living areas. The home is also a Poster Child for green energy efficiency: That super duper insulated SIP foam construction that whittles utility bills to dollars a month even in August, tankless water heaters, thermo windows and highest SEER-rated utilities. And oh my the extras: outdoor kitchen, loggia, fire-pit, salt-water pool, play pool, media room, exercise room, study, and game room with that fabulous discotheque for the kids or maybe, adults? It has a lighted floor, mirrored ball, laser lights, a fog machine and probably a Bose sound system — not sure on that, but whatever brand it’s a killer that will make that game room rock like Carnegie Hall.

I’m a little confused over pricing. The original list price was $3.2 million, actually $3,195,000, but then it appears to have crept up to $3,450,000. Unusual in this market for a home to INCREASE it’s price after being on the market for a year. Z sale? Anyhoo, glad to welcome the Paytons to Texas. I hear they love living in Vaquero and tell friends it’s the most perfect place on the face of the earth. As I told you yesterday, they had been leasing Mark Teixeira’s house but did not renew the lease. No matter what the press has said about Mr. Payton’s coaching skills or style, this wipes the slate clean: he’s got great taste in homes and real estate. In my eyes, he’s a god!