Is real estate in 2021 as crazy as everyone is saying? Yes, it’s absolutely nuts. Sales for condominiums and townhomes are soaring with sales prices up a staggering 22% from this time last February and sales volume is up 30%. Again, that’s not to say your condo is suddenly 22% more valuable than it was in 2020, but if you’re looking to sell your condo, it’s as good a time as it has ever been. I don’t usually discuses farm & ranch properties, but it’s worth noting they have absolutely exploded in desirability. I won’t go into why (covid & crime), but rural flight has officially begun and thanks to technology and video conferencing, it’s viable to work remotely indefinitely. Interestingly enough, sales for single-family homes are down 8% from last February, although average prices are up 20%.
“But John, you dashing yet occasionally caddish raconteur,” I hear you ask, “you just said the market is going crazy. How could sales be down for single-family homes?” Well, imaginary person, the problem is inventory. Homes priced between $130,000 – $400,000 (good luck finding one) are selling in an average of less than 1 month, homes from $400,000 – $1,000,000 are less than 2 months. I don’t think this has ever happened in DFW, and frankly, inventory needs to start going up. It made perfect sense in 2020 to batten down the hatches and not allow strangers in your home, as we approach summer 2021 and more-and-more people are being vaccinated, tensions should ease.
The big question my wife and I go over almost monthly is despite the fact we can get a ton of money for your house, where are we going to move? That’s a question that couldn’t be answered by one article, and the answer lies in your unique situation. If you’re considering selling, I’d be happy to lend advice. I’ve talked with dozens of people the last few years, and quite a few of them ended up not selling. Sometimes remodeling or adding on is the solution, but that kind of thing isn’t for everyone, and sometimes it just makes sense to move onto a new home.
As we emerge from the depths of winter, we must finally address the dust bunnies, stale odors, and various to-dos that we put off until spring. To some people, cleaning is therapeutic. To others like myself, it’s as much fun than a root canal. But alas, we must all engage in our spring cleaning ritual. A few ideas for you:
1) Choose Cleaning Products & Stock Up – Making multiple trips to the store can kill your momentum. Buy multi-surface cleaners, glass cleaners, soap, dusters, and plenty of reusable microfiber towels among other things. If possible, use natural cleaners, or even make your own. There’s a reason chemical cleaners are popular – they get the job done – but the stench of chemicals isn’t much better than a dusty, dirty home, and there is evidence that harsh cleaners can be toxic.
2) Let the Air In – If you suffer from seasonal spring allergies, skip this. If not, opening all your windows will blow the stale winter air out as well as the smell of your cleaning products. If you have an attic fan, this will take no time at all.
3) Go Room-by-Room – As a multitasker (read: ADHD), I tend to bounce around everywhere, but studies have shown (in cleaning and life-in-general), that a methodical item-at-a-time approach is far more effective.
4) Organize & Get Rid of Clutter – There’s a very broad gap between minimalists and hoarders, but I’ve always held as a rule of thumb that if there is an article of non-event specific clothes that I haven’t worn in 18 months, it’s time to get rid of it.
5) While You’re at It, Don’t Forget:
All Kitchen Appliances Shower Drain & Grout
The Junk Drawer Bathroom Exhaust Fan
Washer/Dryer Change Air Filters
Bookshelves Clean Gutters
Windows & Blinds
As was typical of European settlers of all regions, Dutch settlers in New York, New Jersey, Delaware & western Connecticut brought their familiar architecture with them.
The Dutch Colonial homes were characterized by gambrel roofs with curved eaves, double-hung sash windows, and outward swinging wood shutters, these charming homes were originally designed with only one room (try selling that to a family of 4…).
Besides what I just mentioned, Dutch Colonials varied wildly in form. During the late 1800’s they had a very Victorian flare, while after 1900 their design contained more classical elements.
We see this style in D/FW from time-to-time. In fact, there are a couple on the M-Streets that were originally tudors that have been retrofitted to bear the appearance of a Dutch Colonial. I’ve also seen quite a few in Cochran Heights.
Well that was a rough week. Leading up to the week of the cold front, it was hard to believe the forecast. Then the weather came, and what started out as novel and somewhat funny (depending on if you had power or not), turned to annoying, and for some turned to dire. It was great to see snow on the ground for the first time in God-knows-how-long, but the absurdly low temperature is just not something for which most Texas homes were built. 120 degree heat index? No problem! 2 degrees? No.
I know a lot of people are furious about the power grid and a perceived lack of preparedness, but whenever an act of weather is considered “unprecedented” or “record levels”, it’s just not something for which we make foolproof contingencies. I can’t tell you the last time this city was below 10 degrees for any length of time, and I’d say an ounce of restraint when complaining about power outages will age better than knee-jerk calls for heads to roll. Granted, I’m one of the few who didn’t have outage issues, but my house was also one of the last 1% of the Metroplex to get power back on after the big ice storm a few years back.
“But John, you brilliant yet absent-minded assayer of the human condition,” I hear you ask, “is the cold weather going to slow down the real estate market at all?” Well, dear reader, I’m happy to say the only problems we should see in the immediate future is a temporary delay in new listing inventory while people repair their broken plumbing. By this time next month, expect everything to be back to Covid-Level Normal… except plumbers will be lighting their Cohibas with $100 bills.
Please let me know if you need a contractor referral. Conversely, if you wouldn’t mind sharing a great contractor experience with me, I’d love to send them business!
(Side note: disc golf in the snow and a negative degree wind chill is surprisingly fun and gives you an excuse for a terrible score.)
What an unforgettable, terrible cold front it was it was. Record snow, near-record low temperatures…. and in typical Texas weather fashion, 70 degrees the next week.
Unfortunately those of us who don’t have a crystal ball and didn’t winterize ahead of time, the damage is largely already done. The best we can do is assess the damage and rebuild/replant/repair.
Here are a few things to consider:
Plants – When you hit a hard freeze, even “hearty” plants can suffer. During an extended hard freeze, the water within a plants cells freezes, causing destruction at a cellular level. It can take several days for the damage to appear, and like someone recovering from frostbite, gradually introduce heat to your plant will help slowly introduce warmth to the cells. Remove mushy leaves/flowers, so fungus doesn’t take hold. With wooded plants, it’s best to leave them until spring. and prune/cut as necessary. The best thing you can do for your lawn is to fertilize it in March.
Swimming Pool – Hopefully you a) had power and b) kept your pump going. There are a lot of different indicators that you have damaged pool plumbing. The most obvious is bubbles coming out of the jets. More subtle signs include: tile cracked/falling tiles, wet spots in the yard, water pooling under pool equipment, and dropping water levels. Pools can be absolute money pits, but to pool lovers they’re essential for Texas summers.
Plumbing – If there is an upside to your plumbing being damaged by freezing temperatures, you’re going to see it once your pipes thaw. “Assessing the damage after a winter freeze is a pretty straightforward process,” says Andy Parrish, owner of Pro-Bowl Plumbing, “The damage has already been done, and if you’ve had damage done to the copper or cast iron piping in your house, you’re going to know about it the moment the water starts to flow again.” If you need a great plumber referral (such as Andy), give me a call.
Also called the shotgun Shack (The Talking Heads once made a reference), this housing style was popular from 1860’s – 1920’s, beginning in New Orleans but spreading through the deep south and as far as Chicago. Originally built for the middle class, Shotgun houses quickly became associated with poverty in America.
No more than 12′ wide, the shotgun house was a quaint product designed to make the maximum use of space in cramped subdivisions. They were typically elevated several feet above the ground to compensate for frequent flooding, and were so narrow that hallways were unfeasible. They were almost all wood frame & wood shingle construction, and many of them had no windows on their sides.
Thousands of these homes have been renovated thanks to urban gentrification projects; Chip & Joanna Gaines did one in Waco!
The 2021 market has started out exactly as analysts thought: spicy hot. We had the usual New Years hangover which lasted all of 10 days, and then we were back in action. I had the luck to pick up a couple of investment properties in Oak Cliff. One of them got 17 offers in less than 48 hours and will close so far above list price that I don’t see how it will be a viable investment. But hey, I will never be a man who objects to giving me more money that I’m expecting.
With every selling season and all its nuances, new truths emerge. We live in a rapidly escalating market, but buyers with very high expectations for their purchases. Now add to that incredibly low interest rates. What do you think this would mean and who would it best serve? I had a listing about a year ago. Great house. It was priced about $100,000 below the top-of-the-market, but needed about $80,000 in updates. It made sense to us that building in a little discount would entice buyers to make the investment. It was in a great north Dallas neighborhood, had an amazing backyard living space, and well over 3,000 sqft. It had been updated in the early 2000’s with travertine/granite/2000s colors (which were tired), and the master bathroom (massive as it was) was still very 70s. We put it on the market at $600,000 and got 5 showings in the first few days. After 4 months we had had a TOTAL of 10 showings and no offers.
“But John, you elegant yet knavish truth-sayer,” I hear you ask, “whatever is the point of this captivating story?” Well, dear reader, the answer is people are willing to pay a premium on low-interest borrowed money for a completely updated property. It makes sense considering the odds of them paying off a 30 or 15-year mortgage are rather low. The losers in this scenario are houses like my listing. I’m trying to get the owners to spend the necessary money to bring it up to expectations, but it’s an uphill battle. If only people would spend their money like I want them to, things would be so much easier.
(I’m not going to note how many weight loss articles I’ve written in my newsletters over the years; my psyche is fragile as it is.)
According to Popular Science, it takes the average person 6 months to lose the weight they gained over the holidays (if they lose it at all). While the best way to take off the holiday weight is to not gain it at all, we all have our weak moments, and the end of the year (especially 2020) can break anyone’s will.
Here are a few tips for losing that holiday weight:
1) Stay Hydrated – A great deal of the “bloat” we get from the Holidays comes from sodium intake, which can be counteracted by drinking lots of water. While fat can’t just be flushed away, it’s amazing how lots and lots of water can actually deflate us.
2) Get on the Wagon – According to Homer Simpson, alcohol is, “The source of and answer to all of life’s problems.”. It is, however, a serious source of calories. If you have to drink (say you’re in real estate), clear spirits tend to be the lowest in calories.
3) Go Green – I’ve been attempting to eat vegetables first with my meals so that it fills me up, but unfortunately it does nothing to satisfy my bottomless stomach. However, eating vegetables at the beginning of your meal could serve you a feeling of fullness, and lower the chances of pigging out on things that actually taste good.
4) Watch the Snacking – If you’ve ever had a meal diary, the empty calories you absorb in-between meals can be horrifying. You had a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast, a chicken breast for lunch, and a sensible dinner? Great! Unfortunately, the morning Frappuccino, 3 cookies in the break room, and bowl of ice cream after dinner just provided your body with more calories than you burned. It’s never been written anywhere that life is fair.