Category Archives: Houston

Houston Housing Market Best In Country?

If you’re on the market for a new home in Houston, now is the time to buy. Or sell, whichever suits your fancy.

As the old saying goes, “You could be left out in the cold.”

By all accounts, 2014 could continue the trend of a great housing market in southeastern Texas.

There are multiple reasons why experts feel this way, but here are some.

The Housing Association of Realtors in October reported that a 22.5 percent year-over-year increase in home sales. HAR chairman told Luxury Real Estate that Houston “continues to benefit from a confluence of very positive economic forces: strong growth, low interest rates and reasonable home prices compared to other parts of the country.”

Most experts’ prediction for 2014 includes lower inventory levels, along with rising levels of demand that will push Houston real estate values even higher in 2014. Prediction sites like Luxury Real Estate add that the numbers will not be as dramatic as 2013, but homeowners can expect a healthy level of appreciation in the coming months

With fewer homes for sale, that means less completion and higher prices. Most people who shop in the winter months just don’t want to hassle with the market come spring. Come March, April and May when the market increases, the price could go down. Lawrence Yun, chief economist of the National Association of Realtors, told McGeough LaMacchia website that existing-home sales across the country have shown a 20 percent cumulative increase over the past two years, while prices have gained 18 percent.

As you would expect, all this leads to historic low numbers when it comes to foreclosures in Houston as well. According to this press release from, foreclosure property sales fell 49 percent in November compared to the same time a year earlier. Foreclosures make up 8 percent of all property sales, down from 20 percent at the start of 2013. The median price of foreclosures rose 9 percent to $88,000, according to the press release.

While interests remain low, they will go up in 2014. As we speak, the rates are expected to rise to 5.5 percent by the end of 2014. Another possible factor is that the Fannie Mae announced a few weeks ago that it would raise the fees it charges for lenders, who in-turn would pass those fees on to borrowers. Again, as you read this, you have to ask yourself: Why wait to do this?

With fewer homes on the market, simple logic tells you that they sell faster. If you wait until April or May, more will show up on the market and increase the time it takes to sell your home.

Selling a home is not an easy task. It can be stressful and time consuming. Why make it more difficult on yourself? One resource that will is Instead of waiting until the typical months of April and May to put your house for sale, do it when the market is at its strongest, there isn’t a lot of competition, won’t take that long and will make the most money for you, do it now.

Author Bio: Ian St. Clair is an award-winning writer who has close to 10 years of newspaper experience. He’s written about everything from the Denver Broncos and college football to community theater and romance novels. He’s now at We Buy Ugly Houses Houston. You can find him at Google-Plus.

Spend Some Time Exploring Your City: Three Fun Entertainment Venues In Houston

Houston, Texas stands as the fourth largest city in the United States, and as such it offers most of the same avenues of entertainment as all of the other large cities. From museums of high culture to play areas for children, there is something available for everyone in Houston. If you have been living in Houston for a long time you may have missed out on some of the attractions because you have become stuck in the same routine over and over again. To really get the feeling for what Houston has to offer you should take the time to explore the city and find some of the hidden gems. These are three of the best entertainment venues in Houston.

Alley Theater

There are few things in this world more exciting than a live theatrical performance. You can see the raw power and emotion of the actors and actresses, all while witnessing the skill of the set designers. The Alley Theater is a hotspot for local theater and musicals in Houston, providing a venue for cutting edge and experimental performances, as well as more traditional theater. They highlight people from the area, so you are given the chance to see the “next big thing” before it ever breaks out. The venue is intimate so you feel like you are right on the stage no matter where you are sitting, and the variety of plays means that there is almost always something for the entire family at least once a year. If you are interested in local arts and supporting the local community, then the Alley Theater deserves a visit.

Space Center Houston

If you grew up near Houston then you probably went to the Space Senter as a child, but that does not compare to the experience of going as an adult, even if you do not have children of your own. Here you can marvel and the men, women and machines that made it possible for an American to be the first person to walk on the moon and you can be awed by all that space has to offer. It is easier to appreciate the simulators and the history of the space center as an adult than it would have been while you were a student in grade school. The new Leonardo da Vinci exhibit, Machines in Motion, brings to life 40 of da Vinci’s greatest and most advanced creations in a way that is seen no where else in the world. This is a terrific place to spend a day with your family, or with your partner.

Murder Mystery Texas

For a quiet, but fun night out with your partner, Murder Mystery Texas is an excellent choice that is very affordable. The mystery unfolds over a four course dinner, and during your experience you are able to meet and mingle with the other people who attended the event. Everyone that you see is a potential suspect, as members of the cast have been planted as waiters and guests so that you are kept guessing the entire evening. A detective is there to guide you through the investigative process, and by the time dessert is finished, you should be able to figure out who the killer was. Prizes are given for the most accurate and most humorous answer, so even if you get the solution wrong, you can still win. The events only last two to three hours, so there is no need to set aside an entire day to enjoy this immersive and interactive experience.

Houston has all of the amenities of the other largest cities in the United States, and there are plenty of things to do if you take the time to look. Spend some time exploring what Houston has to offer and you will find the hidden gems that make it such a great place to live.

Author Bio: I am David Hoffman and I have been living in Houston since 2010. I wrote this article after one of my friends, a long time Houston resident, admitted that he had never been to the space center as an adult. I was shocked that there was so much of the city that people miss out on because they fall into the same patterns every time they go out.

Houston’s Oddly Absent Zoning Laws

Houston NeighborhoodHouston, Texas is one of the largest cities in the United States, ranking in at number four in terms of population. It’s got all the hallmarks of a huge metropolis.

The bustling city represents the locale of headquarters and flagship establishments for many of the world’s largest companies. It’s a logistical and economic artery, with railways and shipping channels. NASA is right around the corner, and it is an epicenter of the energy and oil industries.

But Houston also has a huge, sprawling populace with residential suburbs peppering the entire landscape. In most cities, especially larger ones, the commercial and residential sectors are somewhat segregated by zoning. But Houston has a quirky exception to this convention – No zoning laws.

The absence of zoning code means that there are no city-wide rules that regulate the use of land or the placement of business and residential establishments with respect to each other throughout the city. Your home could be right next to a business park. In some cases, a home can also be a business itself.

While there is no actual zoning code placing restrictions on building and land use, most property deeds contain contractual obligations that act in a similar fashion as zoning laws would. The difference is that the land owner and developers usually govern them.

As for whether or not this unusual absence of zoning laws in Houston is positive or negative, we have to look at it from a few different perspectives: Commerce, Residents and Prosperity.


In terms of commerce, Houston’s zoning laws grants a bit more flexibility to where a business can set up shop. Unlike other cities with zoning codes, it’s easier for a business to find a good location without such restrictions. Investors, however, sometimes find the lack of zoning somewhat tricky.

In suburban markets, real estate investors are apprehensive about working through the unusual zoning situation. Values and returns might be tough to feel confident about if a subdivision ends up sitting next to an airport. But residential developers have created a method to give investors peace of mind by building deed restrictions and land use covenants into the properties.


The one obvious drawback for residents living in a big city like Houston and having no zoning laws is the potential misfortune of a home right next to an industrial complex. But that occurrence is very rare. On the other hand, residents who wish to run a business out of their own homes might find it easier to accomplish that compared to a city with zoning codes.

Another benefit for residents is the convenience of easier commutes to work and the nearby locations of businesses and services. A worker in Houston could have a potentially long commute given the sheer sprawling size of the city. But because they have more options to choose from when selecting a home close to their workplace, residents can enjoy very short commutes.

Overall Prosperity

Even with all the varying opinions of both residents and commercial enterprises alike regarding the advantages and disadvantages of having no zoning laws, the real proof can be gleaned from the historical prosperity of the city.

Throughout the years, despite an absence of zoning laws, Houston has seen great prosperity. Whether you look at the continued population growth, or the influx of tourism and fresh investors and entrepreneurs, or perhaps the strong economic stability and growth in Houston; all of the signs point to a successful city. And it didn’t need zoning laws to get there!

Austin Faux works for We Buy Ugly Houses Houston. When not dealing in real estate Austin loves helping his wife relax, playing with is kids, and taking the family to the park.

Have A Safe, Happy And Pest Free Halloween

Halloween is merely days away. Creatures and characters of all kinds will be walking our streets. Our family here at Bulwark wants to wish you and yours a very happy Halloween.

Take a minute to enjoy our latest Halloween video. Hopefully this won’t be happening at your place.

3 Reasons Why Texas Is A Great Place To Buy Real Estate

Texas is the second largest state in America. What you may not know, however, is the cities of Texas are experiencing some of the largest growth in America primarily due to the following reasons:

  • safe communities
  • affordable home prices
  • secure employment

These are just a few of the reasons to consider purchasing a home in the Lone Star State. Read below to learn more about why Texas is a great place to buy real estate.

1. Texas Cities Are A Safe Bet

Crime is a reasonable worry for any home buyer who wants to ensure their potential investment is a safe bet. Overall, Texas’ crime rate is dropping rapidly when compared to the national rates; this drop mainly consists of property crime drops as well as violent crimes. Additionally, according to, homes in Austin sell within a median of 77 days, while those in Fort Worth sell within a median of 79 days. These cities are also seeing a drop in inventory levels, which drives home prices upward. Things are also looking bright on the foreclosure front. According to RealtyTrac, one in every 810 homes are foreclosed upon on a national level. On a state level, Texas only has 1 in 1,400 homes that have received a foreclosure filing.

2. Texas Is A Forbes Favorite

Whether it’s the Forbes “Best Places to Live List” or “America’s Coolest Cities to Live List” or even “America’s Hippest Hipster Neighborhood List,” cities in Texas are nearly without fail mentioned on Forbes “Best of” lists. Being named on these Forbes lists holds more weight than one may think. The rankings are based on carefully researched statistics and stats – rather than the opinions of the writer. Texas cities being a Forbes favorite isn’t a new trend, even throughout the worst bouts of the economic crisis and after the pop of the real estate bubble, Texas cities thrived and consistently topped these lists. It’s only natural that as real estate improves, Forbes continues to provide its nod to Texas cities.

3. Affordable Homes

With a median income of just over $50,000 and home values hovering near $125,000. Even though homes are currently rising in value, Texas still has some of the most affordable home inventory in the country. This is especially true in tech towns such as Austin which now houses many tech start-ups and was once called the next Silicon Valley. Needless to say, now is a great time to take advantage of the affordability in Texas – especially if you are invovled in the tech industry.

There’s no better time than now to buy a home in Texas. The Lone Star State offers many safe neighborhoods with quality homes at affordable prices. With an unemployment rate that sits below the national average, steadily decreasing crime rates and many cities that are considered the best places to live by Forbes, you can make your home purchase with confidence.

Jon Clark is the current editor of the California Apartments Blog where he regularly blogs on home buying advice and provides tips on green living. When not blogging or restoring his vintage home, Jon can be found surfing and spending time with his family.

Where Is Houston’s Real Estate Hot Spot?

Houston Park

Downtown Houston was once booming with all types of real estate, commercial, commerce and residential. The real estate business is still booming there but now the trend is buying outside of the Loop for residential, but why?

According to a study done by the Houston Chronicle last year, more than 80% of homes that were sold were outside of Beltway 8, compared to just 6 percent inside Loop 610 and 12.8 percent between the Loop and the Beltway. Residents aren’t minding the long commute for several different reasons.

Property in the suburbs of Houston can be twice as affordable as those within the larger city limits. According to housing data in that area, last year, the median price per square foot for a home outside the Beltway was $72.98. The Inner Loop value was $178.09 per square foot, still less than half. Courtney Johnson Rose, a realtor in the Missouri City area stated that to get a four-bedroom home inside the Loop, you are probably looking at $400,000-plus versus outside the loop at around $200,000.

Another big draw to the burbs is the amount of jobs locating outside of downtown.  Houston’s outlying areas are becoming home to major business districts along the West Belt, including oil companies like Exxon Mobile Corp. They are moving 10,000 employees to a new building west of I45. As a result, areas beyond city limits are booming. Other large companies such as BP, Shell and Conoco Phillips also employ thousands of people along I10, now becoming known as the Energy Corridor.

Schools and shopping are an important part of our everyday lives and there are a multitude of those showing up all along the outer city. The Institute for Regional Forecasting and the University of Houston’s, C.T. Bauer College of Business calls the West Belt their home. The largest shopping mall in Texas, The Galleria Houston is also located outside of the Loop. It boasts 26 million visitors each year with over 400 stores and restaurants, three office towers, and two high-rise hotels.

Some residents love the big city life, but without all the hustle and bustle that downtown is sure to provide. That is another reason for moving to the suburbs. There seems to be less crime, less traffic and a little slower pace of life for those who chose to live here. Some residents state it just feels more like home to be away from all the lights but still less than 30 minutes from just about any destination in Houston. It can be a  great place to raise a family because of the master-planned communities.

Although living in the outer edges of the city can only be a 30 minute commute, some find this to be a drawback to living there. Because of today’s technology, thankfully, many employees are finding that their employers are making is easier for them to telecommute. This is making it easier and easier for residents to say yes to buying outside of Loop 610.

Whether you are a city person at heart or not, it is clear why 80% of buyers are choosing to buy outside of the Loop. There is a lot to offer from schools to shopping and who can forget affordable housing and a strong job market in this economy? The burbs of Houston might just be the best place for you and your family.

Rickey Williams is a real estate investor, expert, and blogger. He works with We Buy Ugly Houses in Houston, a home buying franchise.

Downgrading Your Home In Houston

Sometimes in life, a major change can mean the need to downgrade to a smaller home.  Whether your kids move out or you receive a pay decrease, the important thing is to realize the need to change your lifestyle.  But downgrading doesn’t always come easy; some things need to be taken into consideration.  Deciding on your new needs, finding a market for your old home, and finding a place for your stuff, are things to consider when you get started.  Doing things like putting your stuff into storage or simply being flexible with your asking price for your old home can help things go smoothly.

City of Houston

Deciding on Your New Needs

If you’re looking to downgrade your home, you’ve already decided what you don’t need, but what exactly are you looking for?  This can be a bigger question than you anticipated, so it’s important to decide once and for all what you are looking for in your next home.  This can be the difference between whether you look for a new home in the Spring Branch neighborhood, an apartment in the downtown area, or a place in one of the many other Houston neighborhoods.

Finding the Market for Your Home

Once you’ve figured out exactly what you’re looking for in a new Houston home, it’s time to decide what to do with your old home.  Putting your home on the buying market requires a number of considerations.  Go online or talk to a Houston real estate agent to find out what the market is for homes similar to yours; this can give you the price range for your asking price.  It’s also important to decide what the lowest price is you’re willing to accept for your home.  It’s unreasonable to expect the selling of your home to go without some compromise, so being flexible will be expected of you.  The market of your place will depend on the neighborhood, so make sure you research the market of your specific Houston neighborhood.

What to Do with All That Stuff

One of the biggest issues that come along with downgrading into a smaller place is figuring out what to do with all the stuff that you’ve accumulated throughout the years.  Luckily, there are a number of options that you have at your disposal.  If you don’t have much to get rid of, having a garage sale can be a great way to minimize the amount of excess stuff that you have to take care of.  If you have stuff that you can’t seem to get rid of, or things that you don’t want to, consider moving your personal items into a storage facility.  Seasonal items, such as Christmas decorations or pool items are perfect candidates to be moved to off-site storage in Houston.  It can be the best idea to help alleviate the problem of too much stuff.

Settling In

Getting comfortable in your new home can be a longer process than you’d expect, especially if your downgrade is a major one.  If you’re downgrading into a different Houston neighborhood, there could be an adjustment period based on amenities in the new area, the commute that you now must take to work, or even something as simple as where you get your morning coffee.  It’s important to remember that no matter how major or minimal a downgrade actually is, your first home was once new as well, but it wasn’t long before it became familiar to you.  Given time, your new place will be as familiar to you as your old place was.

Downgrading can be a blessing in disguise and it can go smoothly if you plan ahead.  Once done, it can be a whole new beginning for you and your family.

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Ashely is a new writer that has an interest in writing about home improvement and real estate. Check out her Twitter @ashelymarie1985 to see more.

Why Are International Investors Interested In Houston?


New York and Washington, D.C. have historically been some of the most attractive places for international investments. While they are still near the top of the list, these investors are looking elsewhere thanks to economic performance. Houston is now standing out as a desirable place for cross border interactions and with good reason. Houston’s local economy has been strong over the past several years and it looks like there’s no sign of slowing down.

Houston’s economy has always performed well compared to the rest of the United States. Thanks the strong corporate energy presence in Houston, the city emerged faster than any other U.S. city from the recent recession. After hitting its unemployment peak, Houston’s unemployment rate dropped for 16 straight months. It’s not just in the United States where Houston stands out as an economic contender. Houston’s gross product has been reported as high as $435.9 billion. This makes their economy larger than Belgium, Malaysia, Venezuela and Sweden. Houston’s large numbers are thanks to its oil and gas exploration and production. Nearly 4,000 energy-related companies call Houston home.

Perhaps one of the biggest draws for international investors is Houston’s affordability. Many companies see Houston as one of the best locations for getting a return on their property investment.  Other major cities in the U.S. might offer advantages to businesses but their costs to operate are significantly higher than Houston’s. Houston also offers a low cost of living at a high quality of life. This is bringing in a lot of relocated residents who are looking for a thriving economy that offers ample job opportunities as well as an affordable place to raise a family.

There is also a very long list of initiatives for businesses to base their companies in Houston. They include: tax increment reinvestment zones, tax abatements, pollution control property tax abatements, priority for “green” businesses, statistical GIS mapping, foreign trade zones, tax phase-in programs and The Texas Economic Development Act to name a few.

Houston’s location in the southernmost part of the United States also makes it an attractive location for international investors. Especially for those companies who serve both the U.S. and Mexico markets.  Houston’s abundance of companies who serve other Latin American markets also make the city a desirable location for other businesses that want to tap into these markets. Houston has been considered a gateway to Latin America.

Houston’s existing international culture scene as well as its desirable economic characteristics makes it an attractive city for international investors. In addition to what the city already has to offer, local government provides several incentives to try to bring the best in the world to Houston.  The city has proclaimed its government to be one that is pro-business. They pledge to minimize red tape and delays in order to make the investment process easier, especially for foreign investors. With that type of local support, it is easy to see why Houston is making the top of the list for international investors looking to bring their companies to the United States.

Rickey Williams is a real estate investor, expert, and blogger. He works with We Buy Ugly Houses in Houston, a home buying franchise.

Houston Commercial Real Estate Overview

Houston Blue BonnetsAccording to a number of experts in the industry, the Houston commercial real estate market is the best in the country at this moment in time. Indeed, the residential market in Houston is also on the rise when compared to all others in the United States. On the commercial side of things, vacancies are down and rents are up while developers have started to create a host of large and expensively constructed projects. Businesses have a real desire to be located in The Woodlands or the Energy Corridor but since these locations are almost full, they need to look elsewhere.

Good News

By the end of 2012, the Class A office building vacancy rate in Houston fell below 9%, its lowest level in over 4 years. Critics are trying to suggest that there are too many new office buildings being created and a quick look over the city’s skyline shows an amazing amount of cranes in operation. However, developers in Houston are being extremely disciplined and experts believe that suggestions of overbuilding are wide of the mark.

Bad News?

The office market is likely to get even stronger during 2013 and well into 2014 as the city is one of the country’s leading lights when it comes to job creation. There is of course some bad news as well with Continental Airlines’ abandonment of its office in downtown Houston a black mark during 2012. Although the city’s office market has thus far fought its way through some rough patches, there may be more on the horizon: Exxon Mobil is leaving its 1 million square foot tower block with the process set to begin next year.

The Future

The commercial real estate market in Houston is growing because of an increase in the number of jobs being created. If the city was to experience a downtown in job creation, it is likely that commercial real estate would suffer. Although environmental regulations could be an issue, it seems as if Houston will retain its status as one of the country’s energy centers and this alone should guarantee an increase in jobs.

Even though Exxon is leaving Houston, it is certain that the space it is vacating will be snapped up in record time. Additionally, Exxon is moving just 30 miles away to The Woodlands so the Houston area does not suffer as a whole. At this moment in time, there is simply no better place in the United States when it comes to commercial real estate investment and with Houston continuing to grow; it is likely that the market will continue to bask in the city’s glow.

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My name is Jenny and I enjoy writing about topics related to commercial real estate, such as how to pick a good commercial real estate agent and how to purchase Montgomery County commercial real estate.

Commercial Real Estate News In Houston

Houston, TX

Houston Ranked As One of Nation’s Best Cities for Energy Star Rated Buildings

Houston is often said to the world’s energy capital and it has hit the headlines again for being one of America’s top 10 cities when it comes to volume of Energy-Star rated buildings. The Environmental Protection Agency published details and pointed out that the 20,000+ Energy-Star certified buildings in America have saved almost $3 billion in utility bills while preventing gas emissions equivalent to yearly electricity usage from 2 million homes. Phoenix Tower in Houston received a record breaking 14th straight Energy-Star certification making it the only building in the United States to receive this accolade. In order to gain certification, a building must be rated in the top 25% of similar buildings across the country. These buildings use 35% less energy than average buildings.

SkyHouse Houston Construction to Begin in April

Simpson Housing LLP, Novare Group and Peter W. Dienna are the first development team to utilize Houston’s downtown residential incentive program and the first building, called SkyHouse Houston, will be built from April 2013. It is believed that 500 new construction jobs will be created by this building while it is estimated that its creation will also attract 400 new residents to Houston’s Central Business District. This building will contain ceiling heights of up to 9 feet and be adorned with glass from floor to ceiling. A ‘Sky House’ will be created on the top floor and will contain amenities such as a fitness center, club room and swimming pool while the entire project will be Energy-Star rated. The $15,000 per apartment unit tax abatement awarded by the city was a huge incentive and one of the main reasons why the project is coming to fruition.

Alden Hotel to Be Rebranded

Once upon a time, the Aldon Hotel in downtown Houston was known as the Sam Houston hotel and the new owners of the property believe that restoring the original name is a crucial part of the future success of the building. Nick Massad III said that his family loved the idea of going back to the original name but they also needed to make sure it made sense from a business perspective. He is the son of Nick Massad II, renowned hotelier and American Liberty Hospitality’s CEO and President. Massad III believes that the name change and restoration of the hotel’s heritage will see a boom in business. A full interview is available in the 8 March edition of the Houston Business Journal’s Hospitality Focus section.

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Hi, My name is Mary MacDermid and I enjoy writing about everything Houston, including developments in The Woodlands commercial real estate and where to find a great brokerage like Bobek Realty Group Commercial.