The economic outlook for the Houston area continues to improve year on year, with the Houston Chronicle recently reporting that 2010 job growth in the Houston area stronger than forecasted at 1.8% during 2010 (April Newsletter Featured Story). In addition the MLS data released for March reports that during February, Houston area real estate sells dipped slightly; however, for the second straight month, luxury home sales helped boost the average price of a single-family home, which climbed 6.6 percent from February 2010 to $214,039.
The February housing report for the Houston area is encouraging especially when analyzing the year on year growth. If you recall that a year ago the federal government was rolling out the first-time home buyer tax credit and that today’s home buyers face more stringent lending guidelines than ever before. Considering that we are just entering seasonal home buying months that are usually the strongest, I believe that we can start to be cautiously optimistic in expecting modest gains in single family sales; as well as, average sale price for single family homes in the Houston area.
Featured in this month’s newsletter :
- Important Dates in April
- Houston area’s job growth beats earlier estimates
- Weekend Get Aways – Chappell Hill, TX
- What is home staging?
- From the Broker’s Office
- The Gourmet Corner
Important Dates in April
(*Denotes Holidays with dates that change annually)
April Birth Flower: Daisy – Innocence, I’ll never tell, purity, love that conquers all. Associated with the fifth wedding anniversary. Epitomizing childlike joy and playfulness, this April birth flower captures the essence of spring’s happy-go-lucky, forever-young attitude.
April Birthstone: Diamond – (Invincibility, clarity, purity, eternal love)
Rock Crystal / Quartz – (Balance, clarity, energy)
Houston area’s job growth beats earlier estimates
Courtesy HOUSTON CHRONICLE, By L.M. SIXEL
It’s beginning to look as if 2010 was a decent year for the Houston-area economy.
The Texas Workforce Commission released its annual revised count of the area’s workforce Thursday, and it revealed that area employers added thousands more jobs than the agency originally estimated.
Every March, the agency compares payroll tax reports to its initial monthly estimates of job growth or loss during the previous year. It found that Houston-area employers added 46,300 jobs from December 2009 to December 2010 – a 1.8 percent increase.
“It shows growth is broader than we thought,” said Barton Smith, professor emeritus of economics at the University of Houston. “And it’s suggesting that the Houston economy is doing better than we previously thought.”
Also on Thursday, the Workforce Commission reported that the Houston-area unemployment rate jumped to 8.8 percent in January from 8.3 percent in December.
Smith speculated that stems from a surge of job seekers who are moving in from out of state. “Don’t expect the unemployment rate to go down too fast,” he said. “We’re attracting labor almost as fast as we’re hiring labor.”
Earlier this year, the Workforce Commission reported that the area created 13,100 jobs, a gain of 0.5 percent, during the year.
But the agency revised its December 2009 estimates down and its December 2010 estimates up, resulting in a gain that left Smith surprised and pleased.
“It’s unambiguous,” he said after poring over the data Thursday. Houston is adding jobs in several key sectors, including energy exploration and energy-related manufacturing.
Help from oil “That really fits with the higher price of oil,” said Smith, pointing to the gain of 5,700 jobs in oil and gas exploration and production. And it reinforces his sense that the slowdown in offshore work because of last year’s Gulf of Mexico oil spill didn’t have as much of an impact on Houston as it did in Louisiana.
Even the struggling construction sector eked out a 1,800-job increase instead of a previously reported loss. Smith attributes that to public sector projects rather than any rebound in residential and commercial building.
Patrick Jankowski, vice president of research for the Greater Houston Partnership, said the revised figures show “we’re further along in the recovery than we thought we were.”
He pointed to the increase in professional and business services – which added 12,100 jobs last year. “Those are good-paying jobs,” he said of the engineering, legal, consulting and accounting positions that make up that category.
More from ports Jankowski said he had an inkling from examining other data last year that Houston’s economy was improving. Export and import tonnage at area ports were up by double-digits, he said. Aggregate personal income was rising while wholesale trade and trucking activity increased to keep up with the spike in port traffic.
Consumer confidence also ticked back up, which made consumers more comfortable about spending money. That’s reinforced by an increase in sales tax collections starting in July, and helps explain the 2,400 new retail jobs.
And staffing firms – which economists consider a leading economic indicator because companies often prefer to hire temporary workers to handle extra work before committing to new employees – created 10,000 new jobs in 2010.
Gary Akin, owner of the staffing firm Management Recruiters of Champions in Houston, said he noticed requests for workers started picking up late last year. Demand has been especially strong for engineers, particularly those in mechanical, electrical controls, and sales.
Companies in the food industry are feeling more confident about the economy, so they’re investing in automation to cut, process, cook and package everything from chicken parts to potato chips, he said. They need engineers and machinists to build the equipment.
Jankowski estimates that with the Workforce Commission’s revision, Houston has regained about three-fifths of the 156,800 jobs it lost because of the recession.
Public work to be lost? If the pace continues throughout the year, he said, Houston probably will be able to regain all of the jobs it has lost since December 2008, when area employment peaked.
“The big question is what will happen to public sector jobs,” he said, referring to the expected job losses in school districts, municipal and other government offices.
Weekend Get Aways – Chappell Hill
Courtesy – Chappell Hill Historical Society
Bluebonnet Festival – April 9 & 10 2011
The Festival boasts more than 250 juried exhibitors (home décor, gardening, artists, craftsmen, jewelry, clothing, etc.), delicious country-style food, live entertainment and music, and tours of the historic community. A special Children’s Activity Corner provides pony rides, a petting zoo, face painting, barrel train and more. A special Wildflower Photo exhibit will be on display at the Chappell Hill Museum Exhibit Gallery during April and May.
The Bluebonnet Festival was declared the “Official Bluebonnet Festival of Texas” by the Texas Legislature and was voted #7 as Most Popular Festival in Texas by Texas Highways. Admission is free to the festival and museum. Convenient parking for cars, buses and handicapped persons is available.
The Festival is hosted by the Chappell Hill Historical Society, a non-profit, volunteer organization dedicated to the preservation of the community’s history and historic buildings.
The Society’s goal is to stage a high-quality, fun show in the downtown, National Historic District. Our town is located among some of the most scenic areas of Washington County and boasts friendly people and a casual lifestyle. The festival area is Main Street, Poplar Street, and the property behind the Visitor’s Center.
Saturday, 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Sunday, 12:00 – 5:00 p.m.
Admission: No Admission Fee
Parking Fee: $5.00
What is home staging?
Courtesy – Home Buying Institute by Brandon Cornett, editor
Before we dive into home staging tips for a quick sale, we first need to define what exactly staging is – just so we are on the same page.
Definition: Home staging is the act of preparing a home (and the contents of the home) for sale, with a special emphasis on presentation and appearance.
It’s important to realize that preparing a home for sale and staging a home is not always the same thing. For example, as part of your pre-sale preparations, you might go through the home to make small repairs where needed. This is an essential step in preparing your home for the market, but it’s not the same as home staging.
Staging a home for sale normally involves things of an aesthetic nature, such as design, organization and overall appearance (as opposed to mechanical or functional improvements).
The goal of home staging then is to improve the home’s appearance in the eyes of potential buyers, with the ultimate goal of selling the home more quickly and for the highest possible price.
If you are selling a home, then you’ve obviously been on the other side of the process as a home buyer. Think back to your home buying experience. Try to recall the difference between the homes you thought were “just okay” and the homes that made you say “wow!” Professional home staging can help you turn your “okay” house into a “wow” house.
So to sum up our introduction: You can think of home staging as presenting your house in a way that appeals to the largest possible audience, in order to ensure a quick sale for the best possible price. It bears repeating. The key to this whole thing is appealing to the largest audience – that’s what it’s all about.
From the Broker’s Office
This month’s “From The Broker’s Office” highlights one of my Real Estate Associates of four years – Claudia Bomar. Claudia is a very focused, personable Realtor® who always works to exceed her clients expectations.
Claudia is a member of the Texas Sage Properties Team and is a licensed Real Estate Agent. She started her Real Estate career with Keller Williams Realty North Houston. She is now associated with Texas Sage Properties which services clients throughout the Houston area, principally in the West, Northwest suburbs. Claudia’s continuous relationships with the leading Mortgage lenders facilitates a broader range of financial options for our customers to consider for new or resale homes.
Claudia is a native Houstonian. She and her husband have been married for 17 years and their family of two daughters and two grandchildren have lived in the Houston area for many years. Claudia’s strong sense of community involves church functions, children’s educational activities and girl scouting. Claudia’s exceptional client relations continues to earned her countless referrals.
® Register Mark of the National Association of Realtors
The Gourmet Corner
Courtesy – tasteofhome.com
Easter Bunny Breads
- 2 packages (1/4 ounce each) active dry yeastDirections
- In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add the milk, sugar, oil, egg, salt and 4 cups flour. Beat on medium speed for 3 minutes; beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough (dough will be sticky).
- Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
- Punch dough down. For each bunny, shape a 3-in. find web name . ball for the body; press a chocolate egg into each ball. Shape dough around egg so it is completely covered. For each head, shape a 2-in. ball; press a chocolate egg into each. Shape dough around egg so it is completely covered. Add a 1-in. ball for the tail and two 2-in. x 3/4-in. pieces for the ears.
- Place bunnies 2 in. apart on greased baking sheets. Bake at 400° for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Carefully remove from pans to wire racks to cool.
- For icing, in a small bowl, combine confectioners’ sugar and water; tint pink with red food coloring. With a small new paintbrush, paint a nose and whiskers on each bunny.
Yield: 8 servings.
Nutrition Facts: 1 serving equals 440 calories, 9 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 33 mg cholesterol, 328 mg sodium, 77 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber, 12 g protein.