Land prices aren’t so cheap as people flock to TX

Texas, the land of wide open spaces, had long been known for its abundant supply of cheap land. But that might be changing.

Economic growth and an influx of new residents are pushing up the price of land in the Lone Star State, according to research published this week by the Texas A&M Real Estate Center. As a result, land costs are accounting for an increasingly larger share of the price of a home here, while remaining low compared to the U.S. as a whole.

Statewide, 20.4 percent of the cost of a typical single-family home went to the land in 2016, up from 5 percent in 2011, the research shows. In Houston, the share rose to 25.1 percent in 2016 from 7.1 percent in 2011, the steepest incline among other large Texas markets.

The median price of a home in Texas rose from $138,000 at the beginning of 2011 to $230,500 in April, while in the Houston metro area it increased from $136,950 to $240,000, according to the real estate center.

In many parts of the state, a tight supply of homes on the market and a shortage of construction workers — problems that plague large parts of the U.S. — are causing home prices to surge.

Economic growth is drawing thousands of new residents to Texas, but there is a limited supply of land that is available to be developed, with access to all the required infrastructure, said Jim Gaines, the real estate center’s chief economist. He noted that municipal fees, such as impact fees intended to cover the cost of water infrastructure, are also on the rise.

“It’s a common-sense, obvious thing — as you grow the number of people and households, they’re going to need housing somewhere,” Gaines said. “The supply of the land is fairly plentiful, but supply is always relative.”

At 20.4 percent of the cost of a home, Texas land prices are still relatively cheap compared to elsewhere in the U.S., according to Texas A&M’s research. In 2016, the cost of land accounted for 33.5 percent of the price of a typical home nationwide, up from 24.8 percent in 2011.

But Texas has lost some of its edge in home affordability, which has historically helped the state attract residents from elsewhere, according to the research. In 2016, the median price of a home in Texas was 78.8 percent of the nationwide median, while in 2005 it was 61.6 percent.

Land prices are likely to continue their rise while Texas’s economy grows, Gaines said.

In San Antonio, land prices contributed to 15.2 percent of the cost of a home in 2016. In the Dallas metro area, land costs accounted for 29.4 percent of the cost and in Fort Worth, 22.4 percent.

“Until we figure out how to develop and convert that raw developable land into developed land, and to it at a cost-efficient ratio,” Gaines said, “we’re going to have this continuing thing.”

Nancy Sarnoff contributed.

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BRT Apartments adds property in Dallas/Ft. Worth, Texas

BRT Apartments (NYSE:BRT) acquired Landings of Carrier Parkway, a 281-unit multi-family property located in Grand Prairie, Texas for $30.8M through an entity in which it has a 50% equity interest.

The acquisition price of $30.8M includes $19M of mortgage debt maturing in 2028.

The company contributed $7.3M of equity in connection with the acquisition and anticipated improvements to the property.

The Company has acquired six multi-family properties for a total purchase price in excess of $230 million in fiscal 2018.

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Washoe County Votes to Dismiss Appeal, Move Forward on Housing Development

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The Lemmon Valley area is set to get more than 200 new homes if a planned development moves forward, but residents in the area are fighting it, saying it will make their homes less safe.

Members of the Lemmon Valley/Swan Lake Recovery Committee were trying to stop the development using an appeal, but Tuesday afternoon the commission voted that the appeal wasn’t valid.

That came as a big disappointment to the appellants, who crowdfunded on social media to pay for the process.

"We had over 190 people donate for us to do this appeal," Lemmon Valley resident Tammy Holt-Still said. "None of these residents are being heard. It’s all developers and that’s it."

The commission voted three to one to dismiss the appeal, because the appellant (Holt-Still) lives too far away from the development to merit consideration. County officials say that rule is meant to stop people who don’t live near the area from interfering in other people’s neighborhoods. The county sends notices to the homes within the immediate area of development, so they can give public comment.

Holt-Still called their reasoning "disgusting," saying she should be allowed to appeal.

"Considering my backyard flooded from that last year, and the fact that mosquitoes travel three miles, it does affect me," Holt-Still said.

The Lemmon Valley Heights project would add 206 homes to a 128-acre parcel off of Estates Road, on the east side of Lemmon Drive. The project is near Swan Lake, the previously dry lake bed that filled with water and flooded homes during the unusually wet winter of 2016-2017. The lake bed still has water in it, and some homes still show damage from the flooding. The county has put up HESCO barriers to keep the water back, but it’s an expensive solution to maintain, and it isn’t foolproof. The county is planning to buy up the worst affected homes so the owners can relocate and that area can be barred from further habitation.

Now, the concern from residents in the Lemmon Valley/Swan Lake Recovery Committee is that additional development will just make the flood risk worse, since developed land doesn’t absorb as much water as open land.

County officials say the developer is required to build to code, which includes managing any extra water runoff.

"I think it’s really important for everybody to know that we don’t just willy nilly approve development," Assistant Washoe County Manager Dave Solaro said. "There’s a whole long process this goes through to make sure that it makes the requirements currently within our code."

Solaro said the developer still has to pass a lot of hurdles to get the first building permits, but he does expect that to happen. And from the county perspective, he said building more homes is much needed.

"We are all struggling with trying to make sure we’ve got affordable housing," Solaro said, "and this is one way to do it, by actually creating more housing pool available."

Holt-Still said their group plans to keep fighting the project, saying they don’t believe the measures being taken by the developer are sufficient to mitigate the flood danger.

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Tips For Building A Deck In Texas

During certain parts of the year, the weather in Texas can be absolutely beautiful. Adding a deck to your home creates a dedicated space where you can enjoy the outdoors in comfort. From relaxing in the sunshine with a good book to entertaining friends, a deck provides the perfect place for a variety of different activities.

Like any other home improvement project, it is important to put a lot of thought and consideration into the planning process. One of the first things that you need to think about is where you want to build your deck. Typically, decks are built just outside of an existing doorway so that you can step directly from your house to the outdoors.

The size of the deck is another important thing that you will need to consider. Along with thinking about how you plan to use your deck, you also need to consider the size of your yard. If you have a small yard, you may want to choose a small deck. Alternatively, if you have a lot of space around your house, feel free to make your deck as big as you see fit.

Of course, you need to take the cost of the deck into account when deciding how large to make it. It goes without saying that bigger decks are more expensive. You can find online calculators that will estimate the cost of materials based on the size of the deck. Using these calculators, you can figure out the largest deck size that will fit within your budget.

Browsing online photos can be a great way to get inspiration for the overall design of your deck. Bookmark pictures of any decks that you like so that you can model your own deck after them.

Generally, deck construction is something that is best left to the professionals. There are a lot of building codes in place that need to be adhered to. A professional contractor will be able to ensure that your deck is built according to the local requirements so that you don’t run into any problems when it comes time to sell your home.

They can also ensure that the deck is safe and that it can withstand some of the severe storms that occasionally come through Texas. To ensure that the job is done quickly and correctly, choose a contractor who already has a lot of experience working on decks.