Blog Posts


Who Should Say What Projects Get Built in Texas?

Developers cater to many income levels with new apartment choices


In Texas, affordable housing projects are competitive to build.

Each project seeking federal funds from the Department of Housing and Urban Development applies through a statewide point system for selection. Currently, the points system takes into consideration developer support from a county commissioner’s court, local neighborhood associations and a representative in the Texas House.

For example, Travis County recently missed out on roughly $7.8 million worth of affordable housing development tax credits because a proposed project failed to gain local support from state Rep. Dawnna Dukes, who could have helped the project rank higher.

Up until 2013, the Texas Senate was also involved in the decision. But that year the Sunset Review of the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs recommended eliminating input from state senators and representatives because of their distance from what are often hyperlocal issues.

With then-state Sen. Dan Patrick leading the charge, the Senate easily eliminated its influence in the process, but the House has clung to its part in the process.

In 2017, a number of bills have been filed to reduce this state perspective, in favor of returning more input to local communities.

House Bill 616, filed by state Sen. Jeff Leach, R-Plano, would do just that.

Leach said when he started as a state elected official, he found that much of his time was consumed by evaluating individual real estate deals within his district.

“After this happened a number of times, I took the position, members, that I was going to remain completely neutral on any housing tax credit projects in my district,” Leach told the House Urban Affairs Committee at a hearing Tuesday. “I quickly learned that my neutral position meant that no housing tax credit projects would be built in my district.”

The Plano legislator said he would like to return the decision making power back to the locals.

Many have argued that state representatives, who can represent large swathes of land, sometimes multiple counties and often more than tens of thousands of people, are not equipped to make decisions about projects specific to one community.

Especially in unincorporated areas, like the ones surrounding Harris County such as Cypress and Tomball, this issue has been a prominent topic within Texas House of Representative races.

For example, in the race for House District 130, state Rep. Tom Oliverson, R-Cypress, defeated his Republican primary challenger Kay Smith. In her campaign, Smith declared she would use her position to prevent affordable housing projects from being built in the area.

“The state representative is the only person that can represent their constituents and prevent a development from coming into the area,” Smith said in an interview with Community Impact in November.

Oliverson, who won the election, said he would oppose legislation such as Leach’s bill to take away House input.

“Not on my watch,” he said. “We are much more in a position [than the Senate] to make a decision on a project— yay or nay.”

Leach’s bill was left pending in committee but is co-authored by the Committee’s Chairwoman, state Rep. Carol Alvarado, D-Houston. Leach is the committee vice chair.

Other bills on the same topic include:

  • House Bill 885, filed by state Rep. Ken King, R-Canadian. The bill would add Senate input back into the process. King said he wishes he could eliminate all state influence, but absent that, he would like to revive Senate input.
  • House Bill 1609, filed by state Rep. Four Price, R-Amarillo. The bill would provide stipulations for when a state representative can provide input. The bill limits state input only to when the representative’s district contains a portion of a county with a population of more than 450,000.

How Far Does Your Dollar Stretch in the North Texas Housing Market?

Image result for dallas fort worth

Jason Wheeler, WFAA

Home prices in North Texas have been on a steady climb.

According to Texas A&M statistical reports, the average price of a home has gone from about $191,000 to about $286,000 in the past five years. 

Perhaps real estate really is about location, location, location. We checked out three homes: one near Uptown, another in North Dallas, and one in North Oak Cliff.

All three are for sale, in very different price brackets. But each property has benefited just by being located in Dallas, where home prices have risen tremendously in recent years, particularly last year.

“Last spring was one of the craziest real estate markets I have ever been in. Things were going off the market in hours,” said Steve Habgood, a realtor with Realtor-Hewitt Habgood Group, who showed us the three properties.

As part of the tour, Habgood showed us how much different budgets will buy in Dallas, but he also estimated how much the prices have gone up in location after location in just the last five years or so.

Home #1 near Uptown: “This home is listed at $1,295,000," said Habgood. He estimated that in 2012 it probably would’ve gone for about $900,000. 

Home #2 in North Oak Cliff:  Now on the market for $339,000. Five years ago, Habgood said it would have been, “Maybe in the 225 (thousand dollar) arena."

Home #3 in North Dallas is listed at $729,000. Habgood thinks five years ago the same house would’ve been on the market for $525,000.

“My personal impression is I won’t be able to buy a home for a while," says Evan Hoopfer, a reporter with the Dallas Business Journal.

They inspired this tour because they're shopping around to see how far your money goes in the different cities around DFW. 

A renter himself, Hoopfer is put off by the higher home prices. But he thinks the appreciation is likely to continue.

“The jobs are going to keep coming to DFW so there’s no real end in sight to that," he said.

Habgood agrees, but he has seen some softening.

“We have begun recently to see a little bit of a pullback in the market, and I am beginning to see more and more price reductions in properties," he said.

There is one price point though that remains red hot, Habgood said.

“Anything under 250-300 thousand is selling generally within hours or days."

Perhaps that explains why we didn’t see anything in that price range during our tour.


Tarrant County Ranked Top Healthiest Housing Market

Average days on the market for homes in the top 10 range from 14 to 30, according to the report.


The top 10 healthiest housing markets in Texas are in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, a 2017 report by SmartAsset shows.

Six of the top 10 cities are in Tarrant County: Benbrook (3), North Richland Hills (4), Bedford (5), Grapevine (7), Burleson (8) and Haltom City (10). Those cities also rank among the top 60 in the nation, with Benbrook in the top 25.

The report, which included more than 2,000 markets, is based on a housing market’s stability and affordability. The amount of time homes are owned and the average monthly cost of owning a home were also considered in the rankings.

Mesquite took the top spot in Texas and ranked No. 2 overall in the nation. Statewide, Richardson (2), Farmers Branch (6) and Plano (9) also ranked in the top 10.

In North Texas, people own homes for an average of 11 to 15 years, the least being in Grapevine and the most in Mesquite.

Average days on the market range from 14 to 30, according to the report.

Read more here:

Read more here:




What You Can Expect Your First Year In A New Home

What You Can Expect Your First Year In A New Home

Moving can be exciting, and it can also be scary. It can be smooth sailing or so wrought with silly (or serious) issues that your cat peeing in the box of towels because you haven't unpacked his cat dish yet sends you into the kind of rolling-on-the-ground, slapping-your-leg, crying-big-fat-tears laughter that makes your family wonder if you need medical intervention. And that's just the beginning of the adventure.

In the first year in a new home, you'll likely experience the full spectrum of human emotions, sometimes in the span of a few minutes. And while you can't know everything that's going to happen, you can prepare yourself for some of the inevitabilities, of both the good and not-so-good variety.

Something's going to break

It could just be a sprinkler head or it could be your air conditioning unit in the heat of summer, but knowing that something will eventually break in the house is the best reason of all to be proactive. Being able to quickly deal with a leaking water heater or a roof that's been damaged in a hail storm is key to minimizing the damage to your finances, and your sanity.


There are four main keys to being prepared:


  • Saving your money -"Owning a house doesn't change the rule of thumb that it's wise to have approximately six months' worth of income in a rainy day fund, and more experts are now recommending that you build up nine months to a year," said Zacks Investment Research. "What changes is the amount of your monthly expenses that will be consumed if you need to tap into the fund. If your mortgage, tax, insurance, utilities and other payments rise with a new mortgage, you could use your savings up more quickly. With this in mind, if you were saving less than the guideline, intending to tighten your belt, the increased bills that come with homeownership makes skimping on your rainy day fund a dangerous business."


  • Knowing where everything is located - You don't want to get caught in an emergency situation and be scrambling around trying to figure out how to shut off your gas.


  • Finding a trustworthy handyman - Unless someone in the house is handy, and actually does the stuff they say they are going to do in a timely manner, you'll want to find a handyman. Having someone you can call in a pinch to repair the doggy door or the garage door opener or add a ceiling fan to a room that stays five degrees warmer than the rest of the house is clutch. Next Door is a great place to find a handyman, as well as a babysitter, dog walker, and lost cat.


  • Getting a warranty - In many cases, you can buy a home warranty after you've purchased your home. If you have an older home, are someone who could be sunk by a broken air conditioning unit that costs several thousands of dollars to repair or replace, or just want to make sure you're covered for all those things that could bust, a warranty might be a good thing to consider. "A home warranty is a contract between a homeowner and a home warranty company that provides for discounted repair and replacement service on a home's major components, such as the furnace, air conditioning, plumbing and electrical system," said Investopedia. "A home warranty may also cover major appliances such as washers and dryers, refrigerators and swimming pools. Most plans have a basic component that provides all homeowners who purchase a policy with certain coverages. Homeowners can also purchase one or more optional components that provide additional coverage at additional cost."


Junk mail city

Expect to see a full mailbox for months after you move. A lot of it will be junk, but there will also be some valuable stuff in there, like coupons from local stores that can save you money on furniture and housewares. Don't forget to also take advantage of the coupons that are part of the U.S. Postal Services change of address package.

You'll probably also get some refinancing offers. If your home happens to gain equity during the first year and rates dip, you might be able to refi and lower your payment.

You're going to make friends

Unless you're a total hermit who never exits the house even to take a walk, get the mail, or water the flowers, you're bound to make some new friends in your new neighborhood. Maybe even lifelong friends. But, if anyone in the household is nervous about this aspect of moving, there are ways to increase the friendship-making quotient for kids, and adults.

The updates you knew you needed when you moved in will become a priority

That ugly floor and those outdated countertops are just staring at you, taunting you, even. When you just can't take it one more minute, consider this: You don't have to shell out a bunch of cash for them. Use interest-free credit at Home Depot or Lowe's and you can break up the spend into manageable monthly payments over a period of time. Just make sure to make your payments by the due date every month. Missing one, being late, or not paying the minimum due for even one month will void your agreement and add a whole bunch of interest to your total.

Need furniture or electronics more than you need floors? Lots of stores like Rooms To Go and Best Buy offer the same type of interest-free deal.

You're going to have big dreams and big realities checks

Unless you've bought a brand-new home, there are a few things you're going to want to change, beyond furniture and furnishings. It may just be carpet in the bedrooms and a splash of new paint, or it might be ripping out your entire kitchen.

Budget concerns will probably keep the renovations in check for many people. But you'll also want to assess the return on investment for the renovations you have in mind. Even if you're not planning to turn around and sell your home in a year or two, knowing that the updates you make are valuable and will be a good investment is always important. Remodeling Magazine's Cost vs. Value Report is a great guide to see which items pay you back.

It's going to cost more than you thought

This ties back to the saving your money thing, because there will always be stuff that needs to be fixed and updated. But there will undoubtedly also be surprising costs. For instance, if you're going up in square footage, you may not have considered the extra heating and cooling costs.

There are tactics you can use to address some of these costs:


  • Do an energy audit -"A home energy audit, also known as a home energy assessment, is the first step to assess how much energy your home consumes and to evaluate what measures you can take to make your home more energy efficient. An assessment will show you problems that may, when corrected, save you significant amounts of money over time," said "Items shown here include checking for leaks, examining insulation, inspecting the furnace and ductwork, performing a blower door test and using an infrared camera."


  • Research utility options - In many cities, you have options for your energy providers, and some may cost significantly less than the traditional providers you've gone with in the past. Be sure to check out solar options, too, especially if you're interested in green living. The newest advancements in solar energy for residential homes make it possible to use the sun's energy without having to purchase expensive systems and pay thousands of dollars upfront.


  • Check out alternative credit cards - If you're looking for creative ways to save money, check that junk mail again. There may be some valuable credit card offers in there with lower interest rates or an interest-free balance transfer option.


You might have to do some things you never thought of

You probably weren't thinking about cleaning out your ducts when you were envisioning your new life in your new home. But you probably won't know how long it's been since the last cleaning, and dirty ducks can can cost you money if you're HVAC system isn't running efficiently. Thet can also be dangerous because of the accumulation of dust and dirt inside. Poor indoor air quality can worsen allergies and asthma.

A clogged dryer vent can also cost you money because it makes your dryer work harder. But, more importantly, it can be dangerous and even deadly. "Lint is highly flammable and can pose a severe fire hazard when dryer vents are not cleaned regularly and properly," said Barineau Heating and Air Conditioning. "According to the U.S. Fire Administration's National Fire Data Center, clothes dryers are responsible for more than 15,000 structure fires around the country each year, and 80 percent of those fires start with clogged dryer vents."

You'll get woken up in the middle of the night by a fire alarm

Because batteries only die at 3am. Every. Single. Time. You can avoid this nuisance and keep your family safe by changing your batteries when you first move in. While you're at it, change your filters, which will help your HVAC to work more efficiently.


Compared to Last Year, Homebuyers Are More Inclined to Buy Now

When asked how their perspective has changed in the past year, just over 43 percent of homebuyers said they are “more inclined to buy now,” according to a recent Redfin survey of 1,002 homebuyers. This marks a 10.1 percentage-point increase from last year at this time.


Buyers this year were also slightly more likely to say that there was increased urgency before prices or rates rose.

Redfin real estate agents across the country are telling us they’re seeing unusually strong activity, while the Redfin Housing Demand Index, which is based on the number of customers requesting home tours and writing offers, is hitting record highs.

“It’s extremely busy, for two reasons,” said Redfin real estate agent Jenn Kim in Chicago, “First, we weren’t seeing much buyer activity in the fall, partially because of a normal seasonal decline, and partially because of the uncertainty of the election. And now all those buyers are in the market. But we’re also seeing historically low inventory; there aren’t enough people putting their homes up for sale. So you have extra buyers and far fewer sellers than in a balanced market. Anything priced well is finding a buyer almost instantly. I recently relisted several properties that I initially listed in the fall. In the new year, there was far more interest and they all got multiple offers.”

Homebuyers Believe Mortgage Rates Will Rise Soon

Buyers are increasingly likely to believe mortgage rates will rise substantially in the next six months, after an eight-tenths percentage-point jump at the tail-end of 2016. Just over 21 percent of buyers believed rates would increase by one point or more; last year at this time, only 9.8 percent of buyers had a similar concern.

mortgage rates

While Redfin forecasts mortgage rates in 2017 will average no higher than 4.3 percent, only a very modest increase from the current rate of 4.10 percent, homebuyers do not feel the same.  

“Mortgage rates have moderated a bit since their post-election upwards bump,” said Redfin chief economist Nela Richardson. “Rates are no longer at their historical lows but they are far from the levels that would scare off buyers. In fact we are seeing the opposite. The specter of a rate increase is stoking demand from buyers who want to purchase before rates rise again.  We expect mortgage rates to stay in an affordable range through 2017, due to steady global demand for US bonds that push down borrowing costs for long-term loans like mortgages.”

Mortgage Rates are Now a More Frequent, but Still Somewhat Rare, Motivator for Buyers

When asked what most influenced their decision to buy, 6.0 percent of buyers said it was “concern that mortgage rates will rise soon,” compared to only 3.7 percent the previous year.

Influenced Small

While this is a substantial increase, percentage-wise, mortgage rates are still low in terms of being most influential. A life event, such as marriage or the birth of a child, was marked as most influential by 26.6% of respondents, while high rent came in a close second at 24.8 percent.  

Influenced Large

In fact, mortgage rates were the fifth-most cited reason for buying, just behind relocation for work and just ahead of those who cited looking for a better school district or that they had received an increase in pay.

About the Survey

This Redfin survey was conducted between February 12 and 16 and includes responses from 1,002 users of in 38 states and Washington, D.C, all of whom confirmed that they had recently or were planning to buy a home.  

Specifically, only responses were considered from respondents who said one of the following when asked “Are you planning to buy a home?”: “Yes, I am under contract,” “Yes, in less than 3 months,” “Yes, in the next 3-6 months,” or “Yes, in the next 7-12 months.”