RECON for September 11, 2020RECON for September 11, 20202020-09-11T05:00:00Z2020-09-11T15:00:00Z
RECON Real Estate Center
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What's happening in today's RECON? Texas home prices continue to climb despite the pandemic, forest-thinning funds available in East Texas, Texas named second most diverse state, and Lone Star unemployment claims increase for second straight week. Keep scrolling for more. (Photo from Center files.)
September 11, 2020

Texas home prices continue to climb despite COVID-19 impact

​​​​COLLEGE STATION (Real Estate Center) – The latest Texas Home Price Index (HPI) shows home prices increased 4.18 percent year over year in July. Real Estate Center Senior Data Analyst Joshua Roberson called this "a welcome sign among a bevy of pessimistic economic indicators."

"Home prices in general so far have trended counter to the negative pressures brought on by COVID," he said. "After years of gradual decline from lofty price-growth heights, prices somehow managed to reverse that trend in 2020."
Texas monthly home price index
Roberson said the reasons for this are not complex.

"At least two factors are at play," he said. "First, bottomed-out mortgage rates have sustained interest in housing. Second, an even greater bottoming out of housing supply has produced a fiercely competitive market for those eligible to play."

Roberson said the demand pool looks a lot different this year than last year, with greater concentrations of consumers with overall higher credit profiles and stable income and asset resources. The housing supply pool looks different as well. Homes in the $100,000s account for fewer of homes available to buy, while more homes in the $300,000s are taking their place.

"Perhaps what’s more remarkable is that the HPI is increasing despite this shift," he said. "Typically, homes in the lower-priced tiers contribute most to local price growth when the market is tight. Currently, though, it’s the mid- and higher-priced homes."

July marked the end to numerous federal protections, including the CARES Act, that impact homeowners and renters. The status of these protections is, for the most part, still up in the air. Roberson said whether the home price-growth trend continues will depend largely on those protections, the economy, and, perhaps most importantly, virus mitigation progress.
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State unemployment claims increase for second straight week

COLLEGE STATION (Real Estate Center) – During the week ending Sept. 5, Texas'​​ initial unemployment claims increased for the second straight week to 67,600 claims.

That brings the total since March 21 to 3.4 million, according to data from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL).

The number of Texans who continue to claim unemployment insurance increased the week of Aug. 29 to 1.06 million as the number of people that continue to be unemployed remain high. 

"The recovery in the labor market has lost momentum as both initial and continuing claims remain high, and as some job layoffs are becoming permanent,​" said Real Estate Center Research Economist Dr. Luis Torres. 

More people in Texas' major and border metros filed new unemployment claims during the week ending Aug. 29, matching the upward trend seen in the statewide numbers. 

Using data from the DOL and the Employment and Training Administration, the ​Center has estimated unemployment claims for Texas' major and border metros from March 21 to August 29:
  • Houston-The Woodlands-Sugarland, 778,100 claims;
  • Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, 740,000 claims;
  • San Antonio-New Braunfels, 235,800 claims;
  • Austin-Round Rock, 201,700​ claims;
  • McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, 91,300 claims;​
  • El Paso, 77,700 claims;
  • Brownsville-Harlingen, 40,300​​ claims; and
  • Laredo, 24,100 claims.
Retail trade, administrative/support/waste management/remediation services, accommodation and food services, and healthcare and social assistance represented the sectors with the most unemployment claims.

Nearly 60.2 million Americans have filed unemployment claims in the past 25 weeks. New claims remained nearly unchanged at 884,200 in the week ending​​ Sept. 5​.

U.S. job openings increased in July to 6.6 million, improving the ratio of job seekers per job to around two to one.
2020 Texas Multifamily Virtual Event
Center Chief Economist Dr. Jim Gaines is the keynote speaker at REDnews' 2020 Texas Multifamily Virtual Event on Oct. 15, 2020. This online-only event offers two hours of Texas Real Estate Commission continuing education (CE) credit. Registration is complementary without the CE credit, and $59 with CE credit. 

Forest-thinning funds available for East Texas landowners

​​​​COLLEGE STATION (Texas A&M Forest Service) – The Texas A&M Forest Service is accepting applications for the 2020 Southern Pine Beetle (SPB) Prevention Cost-Share Program. 

Through this program, eligible forest landowners can receive up to $50 per acre, with a 100-acre maximum, to assist in first-thinning operations of overly dense, pulpwood-sized pine stands.

The forested property must meet the set criteria and be located within one of the 21 priority counties which include: Angelina, Cass, Cherokee, Hardin, Harrison, Houston, Jasper, Liberty, Marion, Nacogdoches, Newton, Panola, Polk, Rusk, Sabine, San Augustine, San Jacinto, Shelby, Trinity, Tyler, and Walker.

Applications are due by Nov. 1, 2020, and can be submitted through local Texas A&M Forest Service offices for the eligible counties. Additionally, all approved thinning projects must be completed within 12 months of the approval date.

For program criteria, requirements, and an application, interested landowners can go online or contact their local Texas A&M Forest Service office.​

The funds are provided by the USDA Forest Service-Region 8 and Forest Health Protection.  

​Since the inception of the SPB Prevention Program, over 100,000 acres have been treated throughout East Texas.
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FEMA ends lost wages assistance program

AUSTIN (Texas Workforce Commission) – The Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) program, which provided an additional $300 a week to qualified unemployment claimants, ended Sept. 5, 2020. 

Because the funds provided by FEMA were limited, the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) could not extend payments beyond that date.​

TWC will continue to pay eligible claimants for the approved six weeks—from Aug. 1, 2020, to Sept. 5, 2020—as long as funds remain​ available. Claimants will continue to receive normal weekly benefit amounts for any benefit weeks for which they are eligible.

The LWA program was a temporary provision established after the expiration of the $600 Federal Pandemic Assistance Program, a part of the CARES Act. Other provisions of the federal act do not expire until Dec. 26, 2020.

For more information on eligibility requirements, available benefits, and questions about the unemployment process, visit TWC’s COVID-19 FAQ page.
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Texas second most diverse state 

​​​WASHINGTON (WalletHub) – ​​According to a WalletHub study, ​Texas is the second most diverse state, behind ​only California. 

The Lone Star stat​e ranks fourth in cultural diversity and sixth in religious diversity. It is 13th in both socioeconomic and economic diversity, 14th in household diversity, and 21st in political diversity. ​​

Texas is first in industry diversity and third in linguistic diversity. 

Hawaii, New Jersey, and New York rounded out the top five. 

To determine the rankings, WalletHub compared all 50 states across six key dimensions. ​​​​​

Hunt starts on massive Houston spec industrial project

​​​​HOUSTON (Connect Media) – ​​Hunt Southwest Real Estate Development has started construction on Cedar Port Trade Center.

The one million-sf project is reportedly the area's largest speculative​ building yet. It is within the TGS Cedar Port Industrial Park.

Delivery is set for March 2021. 

Powers Brown Architecture is the architect, and​ E.E. Reed Construction is the general contractor. CBRE is handling leasing. 
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. 

Construction underway on Pflugerville Solar Project

​​​PFLUGERVILLE (Connect Media) – Work has started on Recurrent Energy's 144-megawatt, 950-acre solar project.

The Pflugerville Solar Project will power the equivalent of 25,000 homes.

Austin-based RigUp is hiring up to 350 skilled workers for the project. 

To support construction, Recurrent recently received debt and tax equity financing totaling more than $234 million. U.S. Bank provided tax equinity, and a bank club led by CIT provided debt financing. 

Coventry Homes building two communities in New Braunfels

​​NEW BRAUNFELS (San Antonio Business Journal) – Coventry Homes is building its second and third residential communities in the city. 

Overlook at Creekside sit​s​ on 88 acres near I-35. It will have eight floor plans starting in the $260,000s. Amenities will include a pool, park, and recreation center.

Legend Point at 3934 Legend Park will have ten floor plans starting from the $240,000s. Amenities include a pool, playground with picnic pavilion, and walking and biking trails. 
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Chasewood Technology Park under new ownership

​​​HOUSTON (JLL) – Nitya Capital has purchased Chasewood Technology Park from The GenCap Group.

The four-building, 463,969-sf office ca​mpus is on 10.44 acres at 20333, 20405, 20445, and 20329 SH 249. 

The multi-story buildings are 92.9 percent leased overall.

JLL represented the seller and procured the buyer. JLL also secured a $46 million loan through Morgan Stanley.

Warehouse kicks off in southern Dallas

​​​​DALLAS (Dallas Morning News) – Atlanta-based Core 5 Industrial Partners is building a 994,000-sf shipping hub on Logistics Dr. near Lancaster.

The $45 million project is being built for Illinois-base​d Kehe Distributers LLC. 

It will be within the Core 5 Logistics Center at Bonnie View. 
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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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