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RECON for October 16, 2020RECON for October 16, 20202020-10-16T05:00:00Z2020-10-16T05:00:00Z
RECON Real Estate Center
Boots on fences
The October 2020 issue of TG magazine is on its way to Texas real estate licensees. If you can't wait for the magazine to hit your mailbox, you can read the full issue online for free. (Photo of Boot Hill outside Hunt in Kerr County by Center photographer JP Beato III.)
October 16, 2020 

Texas jobless claims reverse downward trend

COLLEGE STATION (Real Estate Center) – ​Initial unemployment insurance claims in Texas increased to nearly 42,900 the week ending Oct. 10, reversing a four-week downward trend. 

This brings the total number of initial claims to 3.65 million, according to data from the U.​S. Department of Labor (DOL).​

"The slowing claims decrease is worrisome, signaling distress in labor market conditions and reaffirming that much work still needs to be done," said Real Estate Center Research Economist Dr. Luis Torres.

Last week's number, though an improvement over previous months' numbers, is higher than expected.

"For eight months now, we have had more than 40,000 people filing for unemployment each week," continued Dr. Torres. "During the Great Recession, unemployment claims peaked at 49,000 the week of Sept. 27, 2008."​

Continuing unemployment claims decreased for the fifth consecutive week, falling to 734,400 the week ending Oct. 3. 

"The bright spot is that more people continue to the leave the ranks of the unemployed, signaling improvements in the labor market,” Torres said. "However, we don't know if these people have become re-employed or have permanently​ left the labor force."

Claims also reverted a downward trend at the national level. ​​Almost 64.5 million Americans have filed initial unemployment claims in the past 30 weeks. New claims increased last week to 898,400.​ 

The U.S. is struggling more than Texas to decrease the number of people filling for unemployment, indicating labor market recovery in other parts of the country is on more uneven ground.​

Labor market recovery in Texas' major and border metropolitan statistical areas remains precarious as more people filed for initial unemployment in those metros during the week ending Oct. 3. 

Almost 1,100 people filed new unemployment claims in Brownsville, almost double the previous week (550 claims). 

Using data from the DOL and the Employment and Training Administration, the Center estimates that from March 21 to Oct. 3 ​over 835,300 seasonally adjusted claims were filed in Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land. The metro continues to lead the state in total number of claims.

In the past 29 weeks, an estimated 795,200 claims were filed in Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, 252,700 in San Antonio-New Braunfels, and 214,900 in Austin-Round Rock. ​
Along the border, an estimated 98,000 claims were filed in McAllen, 83,000 in El Paso, 43,800 in Brownsville, and 25,600 in Laredo.​​

Healthcare/social assistance​, administrative​/support/waste management/remediation services, ​​retail trade, construction, and accommodation and food services had the most unemployment claims through the week ending Oct. 3.​​
Texas Real Estate TodayReal Estate Center economists will share their insights and answer viewer questions about the state's housing market on "Texas Real Estate Today," a livestream event Friday, Oct. 23. Center Chief Economist Dr. Jim Gaines, Research Economist Dr. Luis Torres, and Research Associate Wesley Miller will pay particular attention to how COVID-19 is affecting housing market conditions. The half-hour program will stream on Facebook and YouTube at 10 a.m. CST. RSVP on Facebook or subscribe to our YouTube channel so you don't miss the event.

Texas dominates list of best telecommuter cities

​​​​​AUSTIN (LawnStarter) – Eight Texas cities have landed on LawnStarter's list of 2020's ten best telecommuter cities. 

Ranking first overall, McKinney was second in work environment, second in connectivity and convenience, ninth in cost, and 25th in opportunity and​​ earning potential. It ranked second in highest average Internet speed.

No. 2 Frisco ranked first in both work environment and connectivity and convenience​. It was sixth in opportunity and earning potential and 72nd in costs. 

Frisco had the highest average Internet speed and most home office and coworking space. 

Other Texas cities in the top ten were:

  • No. 3 Plano, ranking 13th in opportunity, third in work environment, 55th in connectivity, and 28th in cost;
  • No. 4 Irving, 19th in opportunity, 24th in work environment, 29th in connectivity, and second in cost;
  • No. 5 Garland, 29th in opportunity, 44th in work environment, 29th in connectivity, and 12th in cost;
  • No. 7 Austin, 62nd in opportunity, 21st in work environment, eighth in connectivity, and 54th in cost;​
  • No. 8 Fort Worth, 78th in opportunity, 46th in work environment, tenth in connectivity, and 17th in cost;​ and
  • No. 9 Dallas, 90th  in opportunity, 26th in work environment, 16th in connectivity, and 40th in cost.

Yonkers, N.Y., and Orlando, Fla., ranked sixth and tenth, respectively. 

Other Texas cities in the top 50 were ​​No. 14 Arlington, No. 23 San Antonio, No. 29 Houston, No. 38 Lubbock, No. 40 El Paso, and No. 46 Corpus Christi. 

To compile the rankings, LawnStarter compared the 150 biggest U.S. cities across 15 key factors such as remote job opportunities, Internet speed, and the cost of renting a home office.

Here are major findings from our latest Texas Housing Insight report: 
  • Total Texas housing sales declined 4.1 percent in August from an all-time high the previous month as pent-up demand from the economic shutdown normalized. Nevertheless, sales were up 3.1 percent YTD compared with activity during the first eight months of 2019.
  • Months of inventory fell to a record-low 2.4 months, with inventory for homes priced less than $300,000 sliding below 1.8 months.
  • Texas’ average days on market decreased to 57 days, corroborating robust demand despite the pandemic.
  • A shift in the distribution of sales toward higher-priced homes pushed the median home price up 8.4 percent annually to $261,300.
  • The Real Estate Center’s single-family housing sales projection expects sales to rebound 13.1 percent in September.
Download the report for free on our website, and subscribe to receive email notifications each time this report is published. 

TWC reinstates work search requirements for unemployment insurance

AUSTIN (Texas Workforce Commission) – The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) will reinstate state work search requirements, which had been suspended since March, but will resume on Nov. 1,​ 2020. 

Work search is a federal requirement to receive unemployment benefits. Ind​ividuals will continue to receive benefits but must show an active effort to obtain new employment.

All individuals receiving unemployment benefits will need to complete the designated number of work searches, beginning on the date listed in their work search notification document. 

Furloughed workers with a definite return to work date that is within 12 weeks of the layoff are exempt from work search requirements. Return to work dates beyond 12 weeks can result in the waiver of work search at the discretion of TWC. 

While self-employed individuals who intend to reopen their business do not need to complete work search activities, they do need to take steps to reopen their business. Self-employed individuals who do not intend to reopen their businesses will need to complete work search activities.

TWC has a list of acceptable work search activities on their website.
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Houston home sales surge in September

HOUSTON (Houston Association of Realtors) – Strong home sales continued into September​ as consumers took advantage of historically low mortgage interest rates amid a pandemic. 

According to the Houston Association of Realtors (HAR), 9,101 single-family homes sold last month, a 29.1 percent increase and the fourth straight month of positive sales.

"September sales defied expectations with many Realtors busier than ever. However, we anticipate that the pace of sales will soon slow down since there just aren’t a whole lot of homes out there for consumers to buy," said HAR Chairman John Nugent. 

The single-family home median price rose 8.3 percent to $265,000 while the average price increased 10.1 percent to $329,801. Both figures are record highs for a September. 

Year-to-date sales are currently 5.4 percent ahead of 2019’s record pace.

Sales of all property types totaled 11,137, up 31.9 percent from September 2019. Total dollar volume surged 43.6 percent to $3.4 billion. 

The lease market cooled in September with declines in single-family housing while townhouse/condo leases were unchanged.

S​ales for homes priced at $750,000 and up leapt 81.5 percent over the year. That was followed by the $500,000 to $750,000 housing segment, which jumped 58.1 percent year-over-year. 

Homes between $250,000 and $500,000—which comprise the market’s biggest share of sales—also had significant increases over last year.​
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Work requirements return for TWC's subsidized child care program

AUSTIN (Texas Workforce Commission) – The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) will reinstate work requirements for parents receiving subsidized child care benefits. 

The change goes into effect Nov. 1. How​​ever, parents currently on the program who have already received at least three months of childcare following a permanent job loss will continue to be covered until Nov. 27.

TWC removed the work requirement as part of its COVID-19 response to provide short-term relief and greater stability for child care providers. With more Texas businesses getting back to work, however, the lack of a work requirement makes it more difficult for working families to access those funds. 

Currently, 39,000 Texans are on waiting lists for the program.
market viewer screen shotTexas Realtors' MarketViewer tool helps members and their clients quickly understand the market statistics in their area. This powerful tool is a member benefit available exclusively to Texas Realtors and local Realtor associations in Texas. Data are compiled and analyzed through a research agreement between Texas Realtors, the Real Estate Center, and all MLSs across the state. 

Nation's largest psychiatric hospital coming to Houston

HOUSTON (Houston Chronicle) – The UTHealth Behavioral Sciences ​is building the nation's largest public educational mental health hospital near the Texas Medical Center.

The 220,000-sf facility will be the first of its kind built locally in over 30 years. 

Located at 5601 W. Lela​​​nd Anderson St., the project will consist of two buildings connec​ted by a bridge. It will be surrounded by green space. 

With 264 inpatient beds, the educational hospital will provide mental healthcare and substance use intervention, treatment, and medical care.

Perkins+Will designed the facility. Vaughn Construction is the general contractor. 

Construction began in summer 2019. Opening is slated for late 2021. ​

Dalfen Industrial acquires five buildings in Fort Worth, San Antonio

​​​​DALLAS (Connect Media) – Dalfen Industrial has purchased five industrial buildings across two properties in Fort Worth and Schertz.

Built this year, the three-building, one million-sf Mark IV Commerce Center is at the intersection of I-35 and I-820 in Fort Worth. AER Manufacturing has leased 80,660 sf in the industrial park.

Built in 2016, Tri-County 5 and 7 total 211,950 sf off of I-35 in Schertz. Tri-County 7 is fully leased.
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Work begins on $53M addition to Midlothian high school

​​MIDLOTHIAN (Connect Media) – Adolfson & Peterson Construction began renovations and construction of a 185,000-sf addition for Midlothian Independent School District’s Heritage High School.

The $53 million project includes a second-level classroom wing, two gymnasiums, fine arts complex, cafeteria expansion, and four new athletics facilities. 

A new entrance pavilion will also be constructed along with parking lot expansions and a new football field. 

Completion is scheduled for Summer 2022.

VLK Architects will serve as planning architect.

Bill Miller Bar-B-Q cooking up $60M HQ on West Side

​​​​​SAN ANTONIO (San Antonio Business Journal) – Locally based Bill Miller Bar-B-Q is developing a 335,000-sf headquarters at 5330 SH 151. 

Construction begins Jan. 4, 2021, and will wrap up June 1, 2022. 

RVK Architects Inc. is the designer.
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Material herein is published according to the fair-use doctrine of U.S. copyright laws related to non-profit, educational institutions. Items attributed to sources other than the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University should not be reprinted without permission of the original source. To send news items for consideration, e-mail Hayley Rieder. The Real Estate Center is part of Mays Business School at Texas A&M University in College Station - the heart of the Research Valley.

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