In case you didn’t know, there is a virus spanning the globe. Experts have issued guidelines that were taken up by Metrotex Realtors, and together they introduced safety protocols designed to protect buyers, sellers & real estate professionals. It’s not a whole new way of doing things, but there have been some adjustments.
Real estate saw some rough times from April, May, and into June. Sales were down considerably, but more affected was inventory. Fortunately, basic laws of supply-and-demand have kept sales prices moving upward, and interest rates have motivated buyers into stepping out of quarantine and buying a home.
Technology has never been more important in real estate. Along with great photography, 360 walkthrough technology, like Matterport photography, ensures even quarantined buyers can virtually tour a home. Protocol dictates that all real estate professionals wear masks and self-quarantine if they feel unwell. Personally, I leave masks at the front door of my listings along with hand sanitizer and a request that everyone disinfect when they’re entering and leaving.
Besides having very little to choose from, buyers are not as affected as you’d expect. Virtual showings – agents previewing a home while FaceTiming their buyers – are a lot more common.
Closings – normally my favorite part of the transaction – are now done remotely or in people’s cars… which stinks. Also, closings are often being delayed because virtually all the cogs in the real estate machine are operating below maximum efficiency. It’s an emotional market in 2020, and these delays do nothing to help, but with a little patience and perseverance, people are still moving down the road and realizing the American dream.
As a nation of settlers, our immigrants have bought with the the influences of their homelands, and those from the Orient are no different.
Asian architecture – and there are many variations based on region/country – is typically wood-framed, characterized by graceful and distinctively shaped, multi-level roofs that curve upwards at the corners. Entryways almost always face south. Structures are symmetrical in layout, they may be round, square, even octagonal in shape.
Often meticulously decorated with culturally significant carvings, of animals and mythological figures, they symbolize more than just a dwelling, but a tribute to history. Red roof channel fortune, green harmony, yellow royalty. They are often surrounded by graceful gardens.
What a wacky year it’s been (insert your favorite expletive for “wacky” if you like). Despite a non-existent April-May, aggregate sales in 2020 trails 2019 by only 2% for single-family homes, and 10% for condos and townhomes. If you read this newsletter, and I’m sure it’s the primary focus of your life – a veritable north star the dark night of COVID – you’ll know just how terrible sales were for two of what should have been top sales months. Again, I have no idea how the year is going to turn out, there are conflicting forces at play. Working against a strong 2020 are COVID and it’s a presidential election year. Working for the market are tens of thousands of people flooding into D/FW in search of jobs, prosperity and a 110 degree heat index.
Inventory is still critically low in the DFW area. Builders around the periphery simply can’t put up enough product to keep up with demand. It’s amazing that parts of the Metroplex that were once rightfully considered the middle-of-nowhere are now bustling population microcosms. I mean, there isn’t a tree over 7′ tall in these areas, but by the year 2070, they will be MAJESTIC.
I try to keep my comments as macro as possible, but for the most part, the majority of my work is in East Dallas and Lake Highlands, both of which have been particularly resurgent in the last couple of months. Sales volume has risen 38% and 62%, respectively. What areas are suffering? Park Cities and Oak Lawn. Luxury homes over $1,000,000 – particularly $2,000,000 – are simply not selling these days. And the condos and townhomes that compose the majority of Oak Lawn are also lagging.
As was typical of all New World settlers, 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 (open concept before it was a thing).
Besides what was 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, the very first home I ever held open was Dutch Colonial. It was on Reiger in Old East Dallas. Sweet memories…
It’s getting harder to predict how the year is going to turn out sales-wise. Sales for May were down a staggering (but predictable) 25% from May 2019, but pending sales going forward are up 19% from the previous year. It would appear that the market is going as the COVID-19 Lockdown is going, and now that new restrictions have been put in place, it’s causing things to slow down again. I think all-in-all we’ll still have a pretty good year, but it all depends on how much the election is going to impact sales and what the state of the virus is going to be like in the fall.
One of my chief frustrations with COVID-19 and the lockdown (besides the obvious economic crash and 100,000 death toll, of course) is that our shindigs have been put on hold. The usual John Angell Real Estate Group spring party was cancelled in April (although it would have been a push given my back surgery in February), and the July 4th party has been called off as well. I hate the idea of it, it could have been done outside, but the risk is just too high and the optics would have been foolish.
I’m glad to get back to the office, even with “social distancing” rules. We all have an inner introvert who loves staying at home, occasionally Zoom chatting (although I imagine only about half the people I see on Zoom are wearing pants), and saving money by not eating lunch out. But I think even the most introverted of us was either starting to go a little crazy from a lack of human interaction or, even worse, becoming accustomed to isolation to the point of enjoying it. I had a good friend once who I lost to bonafide agoraphobia after she started working from home. Her world got smaller and smaller until she couldn’t even walk her dog in public places or go to the grocery store. We all need to be vigilant against infection, but not at the expense of our nature as social animals.
“There’s nothing more dangerous than a wounded mosquito.” – Roy, Monty Python’s Flying Circus
Just like hot weather, mosquitoes are a fact of life in Dallas. They proliferate in spring moisture and, thankfully, by the end of summer are mostly gone. Until then, here are a few tips to keep the bites at bay.
1) Wear Light, Loose-Fitting Clothes – Mosquitos love warm bodies, and can sense them from a distance. Wearing light, loose-fitting clothes that stay away from the skin not only block their sight of you, but lessen the chance of their proboscis (pointy snout) from going into your skin.
2) Use Repellants – Off! and Cutter do a great job, but mosquitoes despise catnip, society garlic, and lavender as well. Keeping any of these plants in abundance around your outdoor living space will deter them.
3) Certain Foods Can Help (or Hinder!) – What we eat affects the scents that we put off that animals can detect. Any form of raw garlic and onions, apple cider vinegar, lemongrass, chili peppers, beans, lemons and tomatoes all cause your natural scent to drive them off. Also, it’s been shown that vitamin B-1 may do the job as well. Things to avoid? Alcohol, salty or sugary foods all make you smell more delicious to mosquitos.
4) Eliminate Standing Water – Mosquito larvae require stagnant water to grow, and a young mosquito is a voracious mosquito. Dump any vessel with standing water in it you can find, whether it be a wheelbarrow, flower pot, whatever.
5) Don’t Breathe – Mosquitos are able to see carbon dioxide as it is exhaled by mammals, and are naturally attracted to it. Next time you see mosquitos buzzing on the other side of a screen door, exhale through the screen and watch them go crazy. Obviously you can’t opt to not breathe, but exhaling as infrequently as possible when in areas rife with mosquitos.
(Definitely one of my favorite names for a housing style.)
Shotgun houses were a product of the
post-Civil War era, and were designed to fit as many homes into a city block as possible No more than 12’ wide, they were most popular in the Southern US, particularly New Orleans, but can be found as far as Chicago, Florida, Key West and here in Dallas.
Typically configured with no hallway, living room in the front and kitchen in the back, these homes were all about space economy. Rooms are surprisingly spacious (unhindered by parallel rooms) and high ceilings for ventilation. Some are two-storied, especially in New Orleans (see embarrassing Mardi Gras pictures), and typically elevated 3’ above ground in case of flooding.
Following the Elizabethan style of Renaissance architecture, the Jacobean Style is named after King James I of England. Influenced by Flemish and German immigrant craftsmen and artists rather than the previous Queen’s (Elizabeth) reign, they showed a majesty rarely seen outside of churches.
Flat roofs with open-work parapets, round-arch arcades, columns and pilasters were relied upon heavily, while other classical elements appeared more freely than in Elizabethan architecture. The style itself heavily influenced furniture design and decorative arts for years to come.
While this style of architecture was for too fanciful for the hard lives of the puritans who were its contemporaries, they are not unknown in the United States.