Friday, May 6, 2016

What Real Estate Agents Need to Know About the Market in 2015

What real estate agents need to know about the market in 2015

*This is a post I wrote back in December 2014. I hate to see it coming true right before my very eyes, but we've seen this before and I'm sure we'll see it again. 

There’s been some speculation about what will happen to Houston real estate with $50-$55 oil. I have been in the business for 28 years, and have lived through two bubbles and two recessions. With age comes wisdom…and calmness. I’m here to tell you that all is well, that what goes up can come down and vice versa.  

So what do agents need to know to prepare for 2015? This:
  • The November/December numbers are going to be low. This doesn’t mean that the housing is poised for a crash. It means that 60% of the buyers in Houston are transferees and they don’t move at this time of year. They will finish out the school year.
  •  No, it will not be like 2014. Selling a home will go back to becoming a process versus a one-day-open-house-and-it’s-sold scenario.  In other words, homes will no longer sell the first hour they’re on the market. We’re going from speed dating back to traditional courtship.
  • Fewer sales means more agents will leave the business. You will see more of them retiring and younger agents feeling like they need more stability in a job and paycheck.
  • Buyers will misread the headlines.  News has become like a tapas bar-we only read the headlines.  The headline reads, “Houston sales will be down 10-15%” yet buyers will interpret that to mean prices will fall 10-15%.  If you read past the headlines, “prices will continue to increase”.  
  • We will have steady appreciation and fewer bidding wars.  Buyers will have time to make smart decisions versus impulsive ones. With this, comes a new slower pace for the real estate market… a normal pace. 
  • It will be a great time to represent buyers because we will see a 1-3% appreciation versus a larger appreciation, which means homes will be more affordable.
  • We have continued in-migration but at a slower rate. People still are moving into Texas, not leaving. Seven of the fifteen fastest growing cities in the U.S. are located in here. 
  • We’re #1 in job creation. Texas leads the nation in the creation of jobs: 40% since 2009. (If it slows down, we’ll still be happy. It would give us time to fix our roads.) 
  • Homes must be priced on the market, not overpriced and you must look at how many homes are available in that price range.  Inventory/competition will become a key factor in pricing. 
  •  Minimal building. When oil prices go down, lenders get a little uneasy.  Spec building comes to almost a complete halt. But on the bright side, this stabilizes the supply and demand side of housing. Apartment building slows down. Yippee! 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015


A friend sent me this article about Houston neighborhoods got their names.   As a native Houstonian, it was fascinating to read the history of how the neighborhoods we live in got their names.  I knew the Memorial Villages were at one time ranchettes-5-20 acres mini ranches so the residents that lived in the city would have a country place on the weekends.  Kinkaid purchased the last ranchette in 2014! It was the property adjoining the school. I hope you enjoy this little history lesson.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

What's Hot on the Housing Market 

The Top 12 Trending Design Elements 

Low Profile Landscaping- Since interior design has headed into a time of more modern trends, it is important that the exterior of a home follows suite. Low boxwood shrubbery that border and frame neatly arranged flowerbeds have replaced tall scrubs and trees.  
Parking Area- Brick circle driveways are a little too traditional and take up way too much space for what is happening in the modern housing market today. Instead, gravel parking areas have become increasingly popular because they leave room for lots of green to grow in the front yard and are made of natural materials. 

Flat Walls- Crown molding has become a thing of the past. In the majority of new construction these days, smooth, non-textured walls are used because they give a home an effortlessly elegant feel. Less is more trend. 
Steel Framed Front Door- The front door of a home is an extremely important design element because it immediately sets the tone for the rest of the interior. Glass doors with steel frames communicate a quite elegance from the moment you step in. 

Kitchen Cabinets- Eliminating upper cabinets and leaving kitchenware on display with open shelving was a big trend in 2014 and has continued on this year. It’s a super chic way to update your kitchen and make it feel more spacious. 
Wood Beams- Wood beamed ceilings create a special wow factor, giving any home a sense of character and charm. 

Gray Wall Color- Using a slightly gray color rather than traditional white is a great way to create a classic yet refreshing look. Light gray walls make a home feel bigger and brighter. Design tip: Ceilings, baseboards and walls should all be painted the same color.
Marble- It’s no secret that white Carerra marble has been a sought after interior element for ages but keeping it consistent throughout the entire home is a new design trend. 
(Floors, counter tops, backsplashes, bathtubs and showers) 

Wide Openings into rooms- Large entryways give the illusion of higher ceilings and more spacious living spaces. 
(Pantry Door)
Antique Doors- Using reclaimed items in a home, such as antique doors, has become increasingly more popular and is an easy way to enhance the ambiance of a room. Chateau Domingue

Bunk Bed Nook- Since desktop computers have been replaced with iPads and laptops, there is no need for a built in computer desk. Instead, opt for a bunk bed nook that can be as extra space when the kids have sleepovers. 
Sisal Carpeting- Using sisal instead of traditional carpet is a modern way to create the feel of simple elegance in a living space. Design tip: Decorative rugs look great over sisal carpeting.

Friday, December 5, 2014

The Stress Test of $50-$60 a Barrel Oil and Will This Time be Different

With experience, calmness persists in the Lone Star State

            As the country looks on to see if Houston can withstand the stress test of lower oil prices, many of us are unperturbed. We’ve been to this rodeo before. As one oil executive put it, “I don’t need to go to Las Vegas. I’m in the oil business. I live in Las Vegas every single day.” As for me (and I’m dating myself), I’ve been in real estate for over 28 years and remember well those crazy 80’s years. I’ve been through two recessions and two bubbles and made it out alive and intact.

But let’s back up a minute and look at this situation realistically. This isn’t another 80’s bust. The housing market back then had a financial foundation thinner than tissue paper. We had non-recourse loans, so if things didn’t work out, we could simply give back the property. Real estate was used as a tax shelter. Deals could be a losing combination of both. You held your breath and hoped for the best. It was like keeping your high school kid home from school for a month and crossing your fingers that everything was going to be okay.

Getting back to the present, when the numbers come in, sales for both November and December are going to be lower, we know that. But it’s not because of lower oil prices. It’s for a couple of reasons:

  • 60% of all buyers in the Houston market (I did a very unscientific survey) are from out of state. These folks don’t move or look at homes during the holidays. They come in the spring. 
People from all over are beginning to understand that the economy has changed permanently. The ups and downs of the national economy is “the new normal.”  In Texas, it’s always been the norm!

In 2007 and 2008, it was the stock market that incurred massive injuries, yet Houston experienced only a sniffle. We’ve been through much worse than $50-$60 oil. We know that what goes up does come down, and vice versa.  Panic isn’t something Houston does—and it doesn’t need to. It’s sitting pretty as an economically stable place to live:

·      We’re still an in-migration state. People are moving into Texas, not leaving. Seven of the fifteen fastest growing cities are located in Texas.

·      #1 in job creation. Texas leads the nation in the creation of jobs; 40% since 2009. (If it slows down, we’ll still be happy. It would give us time to fix our roads.)

·      Minimal building. When oil prices go down, lenders get a little uneasy. Spec building comes to almost a complete halt. But on the bright side, this stabilizes the supply and demand sides of housing. Apartment building slows down. Yippee!

·      In Texas, your home will never be your ATM machine; there are no equity lines of credit. Easy money always ends up being bad money. Because Texans are not able to access our home equity with an ATM card, it is a bit more complicated than that.  It is a harder process so foreclosures stay down and our real estate market stays relatively stable.

·      People nest when there is change.  When you go to work and things aren’t so happy-go-lucky, you tend to stay put with your housing. So inventory will stay down.

·      Most people in the oil business saw this coming. And they’ve been talking about it for six months, so no big surprise or shock. They have remained calm.

            So take a deep breath and relax. We have traveled this road before and we know where it leads.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Change of Scenery

Early this morning, I was perusing the Houston Chronicle and stumbled upon an article that just reminded me of how much our city has grown. So many people are moving to Houston, Texas from around the world.

Well, I had the pleasure of relocating a beautiful family from Connecticut to Houston, and it’s just so good to hear and read all the wonderful things they have to say about my city. Here’s a few things to keep in mind when you’re relocating to a new city, and relocating with children:

  1.      .. Children can have mixed emotions about a move. It’s not about having just one big talk with them. Parents should probably have a series of talks with them. It may take them just as long as it has taken you to feel good about a move.
  2.         Use the move as awesome bonding experience and a resilience builder.
  3.         Find the perfect home; take everyone into consideration, even the children. Give and take a little bit. Try to make sure everyone is comfortable.
  4.         And finally, get out find things to love about your new city. It’ll make the transition a lot easier if you can go out and find/taste the best ice cream you’ve ever had in life! J

Until next time,


Wednesday, February 26, 2014


Why do good neighborhoods have such low inventory?

  •             60% of the buyers are from out of town and they’re looking for GREAT SCHOOLS.
  •       Majority of the Buyers are educated executives and education is a driving force in their decision-making.
  •            All time record low interest rates.
  •            People are afraid to put their house on the market, unless they have a place to go.
  •       If you are thinking of selling your home, this is a great time.  Inventory of homes in good neighborhoods are Low!

Friday, January 31, 2014

Mr. President!

Dear Mr. President,

Your recent comment about marijuana just shows how little you know.
Your daughters have the advantage of coming home to a supervised home WITH AN INTACT FAMILY.  They do not go home to an empty apartment or HOUSE like so many AMERICAN children do.  Your children will have guidance (although after your stupid statement I worry about what type of guidance) on the subject of marijuana many kids will not EVER HAVE.  I have been a volunteer/board member of the Boys and Girls Club and tutored children in schools to bring them up to grade level.  I can tell you many of these kids are beating the odds but when someone they admire and want to grow up to emulate makes an IDIOTIC stupid comment, we lose more kids and it makes our job much harder.
I have a 20-year-old son and one of the lessons I have tried to teach him is “just because you think it, does not give you the right to say it.”  When he was in 7th grade a boy was suspended because he hit my son.  I asked "why he hit my son" and he said "he called me Fat".  I made the school suspend my son.

Mr. President you are welcome to voice your opinion when you can do so from experience as a parent.  When Sasha and Malia EXPERIMENT WITH pot and you see first hand "THAT IT IS NO WORSE THAN ALCOHOL", then you are entitled to an opinion.  Your opinion should be based on YOUR PERSONAL experience.  Because you think it, does not give you the right to say it.  You should just go up to all the volunteers trying to help mentor kids and slap us in the face.  It would have been much easier on us and at least the children would be protected.

The reality of what you have done is made impressionable kids think marijuana is OK.  For the kids that have the hardest odds against them, you have just made it harder. Does this make you feel proud? Do you feel like a hip parent?

Sissy Lappin