January Newsletter


Kicking off our celebration this year, we are very excited to announce our new brokerage…CHRIS PROPERTIES! Years in the making, we are finally here.

Our promise to  you, our clients, is an even greater focus on service and convenience as we pursue “Excellence In Advising Your Real Estate Interests”!

Are updates and upgrades in your plans for 2022?Click on the picture to check out our list of qualified service partners…

HCADHomestead Exemptions: It’s that time of year again! Please click on the logo to access a link to the Harris County Appraisal District web page and find information for Harris County homeowners. Harris County currently provides a 20% optional homestead exemption to all homeowners. This means, for example, that if your home is valued at $100,000, the exemption will reduce its taxable value for Harris County taxes by $20,000 to $80,000. Surrounding counties may have different exemption amounts available. My suggestion is that you get this is information to your tax professional so that they can complete the form and apply for the exemption on your behalf and notify the county of a change of ownership if need be. FAQ’s include:

How do I qualify for a residential homestead exemption?

  • You must own and occupy the property as your primary residence on January 1 of the year for which you are applying.
  • Form, 11.13, is used to apply for a general residential homestead, the over-65, disability, 100% disabled veteran and the surviving spouse exemption. The form can either be mailed in or dropped off at our office at 13013 Northwest Freeway, or electronically submitted.
  • Fill out form 11.13, “Application for Residence Homestead Exemption,” on our website at FORMS > POPULAR FORMS, generally steps 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6.
  • Using the HCAD MOBILE APP to apply for the homestead or over 65 exemptions is as simple as taking a picture of the front and back of your Texas driver’s license. Go to www.hcad.org > ONLINE SERVICES > HOMESTEAD to find more information and further instructions. To use the mobile app successfully, the name and address listed on your driver’s license must match the name and property address listed on your account.

What do I need to include with the application?

  • You must provide a copy of your Texas driver’s license or state issued ID with the same property address of the account for which you are applying. You can submit the temporary paper license with the application when you have updated your license address.
  • If the property is not listed in your name, include a copy of your deed with the application.

If you live in Fort Bend County, click here – https://www.fbcad.org/exemption-application/
If you live in Montgomery County, click here – https://mcad-tx.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Homestead-Exemption-Pamphlet.pdf

Please let me know if you have additional questions.

January Residential Market Review: Courtesy of Har.com. Please click on the logo to learn more.

HOUSTON — (January 12, 2022)Despite the ongoing health crisis, historically low inventory and rising home prices, consumer demand for housing kept the Houston market buzzing! The second year of a global pandemic, dwindling inventory, building supply and labor shortages that slowed home construction, and rising home prices could not prevent the Houston real estate market from turning 2021 into a record year. Consumers never eased up on their demand to buy or rent homes and paid more for them as the supply of housing grew smaller. Single-family home sales surpassed 2020’s record volume by more than 10 percent, and total dollar volume soared more than 28 percent to a record $40 billion. According to HAR’s December/Full-Year 2021 Housing Market Update, single-family home sales for 2021 rose 10.3 percent to 106,229. Sales of all property types for the year totaled 131,041, up 13.3-percent from 2020’s record volume and only the third time in history that total property sales surpassed the 100,000 level. Total dollar volume for 2021 shot up 28.2 percent to a record-breaking $40 billion. Single-family home sales experienced their third decline of 2021 in December, falling 4.5 percent versus December 2020. However, that was not enough to prevent the market from hitting record-breaking territory. The strongest monthly sales volume registered was among homes priced between $500,000 and $999,999, which jumped 41.4 percent year-over-year. Homes in the $250,000 to $499,999 range came in second place with a 17.0 percent increase The luxury market, consisting of homes priced at $1 million and up, ranked third in sales activity, climbing 8.8 percent. The median price of a single-family home – the figure at which half of the homes sold for more and half sold for less – established a new historic high of $319,000 in December. The average price reached the second highest level of all time – $392,449. June was the strongest month of the year for sales with 10,642 single-family units sold – the second greatest volume of all time. That same month, the market set a new record average price of $393,263. The greatest sales volume decline (6.7 percent) of 2021 occurred in July, but it was a bit of an anomaly. Sales were actually strong, but could not rival the surge in closings taking place that same month in 2020 as transactions that were stalled due to COVID-related lockdowns finally pushed through. October and December were also negative months for sales. By the time the books were closed on December transactions, a record 106,229 single-family homes had sold across greater Houston in 2021. That represents an increase of 10.3 percent from the previous record of 96,271 in 2020.

Other HAR articles of interest


January Commercial Real Estate Highlights: Courtesy of BISNOW. Please click on the logo to learn more.

January 4, 2022 – Houston CRE Companies Eye A Brighter 2022 Despite Setbacks  –

Though the omicron variant is once again delaying the plans of some companies still considering sending employees back to the office, Houston commercial real estate experts say they are largely no longer feeling weighed down by the pandemic. Going into 2022, the commercial real estate industry is cautiously optimistic about the year ahead, predicting even the lagging office market will see improvement, with some already seeing activity reach 2019 levels or better. Experts are also predicting 2022 will bring the continued revival of retail and a new focus on green building and technology to attract and retain talent. In a rapidly changing market still dealing with Covid-19, Bisnow spoke to several real estate professionals in Houston to get an idea of what they might be expecting coming into the new year.

Office – While the Houston office market appears to be stabilizing somewhat, CRE professionals predict its growth may still be flat for the next two years. Charlie Neuhaus, a partner specializing in office tenant representation at NAI Partners in Houston, calls the issues in the Bayou City three-pronged: the market is dealing with the uncertainty of Covid-19 variants, the demand for working from home and a general local reliance on a lackluster oil and gas market. Those landlords with lower-level Class-A or Class-B properties will likely pay the price for offering fewer amenities, Neuhaus said. Landlords offering good amenities to incentivize tenants has always been common, but he said landlords are now offering astounding tenant allowance packages to attract companies. Going forward, west may be best for office tenants looking to move closer to their employees. “There’s a segment that still want to be downtown. I think one thing we’ve learned throughout this is Zoom and conference calls is a pretty good way to hold meetings,” Neuhaus said. “I don’t think that necessarily you have to be in really any [one] submarket. If you look at where the new rooftops are and the affordable rooftops are, it’s continuing to move west.” White-collar employees, bolstered by new options for work in or out of an office and negotiating with companies that are increasingly changing to fit their needs, are driving employers to areas like Interstate 10 and the Energy Corridor. Neuhaus supports the idea that work-from-home flexibility will be key to how office tenants select their space moving forward. If workers aren’t taking their in-person lunch meetings in a downtown tower, a pricey office there may not be so appealing.

Retail – Early reports of retail’s death from Covid-19 seem to have been exaggerated. Even supply chain snafus did not mar a bustling holiday season that tied a bow on a record-breaking Q3 for retail sales, according to the Texas Real Estate Research Center. But as retail improves, exactly which retail properties will bounce back is  dependent on the type of real estate. Property owners that have heavily invested in indoor shopping malls are still trying to catch up, with Simon Property Group stating last year that it may not return to pre-pandemic occupancy until later this year or 2023. Simon owns a number of Houston-area malls, including the Galleria. Property owners are diversifying to combat that slow recovery: Last year, for instance, Brookfield participated in an $11M funding round in London-based gaming retailer Electric Gamebox. The company is expected to expand into The Woodlands Mall near Houston. Aj Jennings, senior general manager at REIS Associates, manages Rice Village, which has been undergoing heavy cosmetic makeovers in past years as it brings in new tenants. At Rice Village, at least, she’s seen a more successful 2021 than 2019. She credits Rice Village’s ability to nab new leases from being choosey in which brands to bring on. “I think that’s been helpful in the retail market. The landlords that, through [Covid-19], worked closely worked their retailers are the ones that I think are reaping the benefits going forward for successful improvements in sales, traffic and business,” Jennings said. “For us, that has been the focus: ensuring our retailers are healthy, that they are able to find workers. I think that’s, going forward in the future, [going to be our biggest challenge].”

Sustainability, Talent And Technology –Technology, talent and sustainability will be buzzwords in 2022. A national outlook from Deloitte, published in November, talks about recovery and emerging employee expectations their employers will adopt new technology, take on social issues and address the climate. “The CRE industry is positioned at the forefront of [economic] recovery [post-pandemic]: Office employers are balancing productivity and safety; retailers face critical turning points in an evolving industry,” the report states. “Meanwhile, companies face increasing demands to prioritize environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues, aging technology infrastructures, a tightening labor market, and increasingly differentiated competition.”

Renea Burns, a partner at Deloitte and based in Houston, speaks of a CRE future with companies using technology like digital twins, which in real estate’s case could be a virtual copy of a property, where companies can simulate operations, finances and other variables. But for those companies still working with outdated programs and hardware, their eyes for new technology may be bigger than their stomachs. It’s a long road to get to something that will stick, she said. “I wouldn’t say most companies are doing [this technology] yet, but it seems like your bigger real estate companies are starting to look into this,” Burns said. “Typically, you see real estate companies invest in just their real estate. We’re seeing a lot of vertical integration between some of the bigger technology, where they’re actually investing in partners and property technologies that can help bring some of this. It’s believed that it’s going to give some of them a competitive advantage in the future.” Companies are also coming up with sustainability plans, but with a lack of a framework to follow in the U.S. compared to Europe, for example, many U.S. companies are in the dark. Yet a younger, greener working generation, hungry to work for companies that are environmentally conscious, will drive companies to adapt, experts say. Burns called the talent climate a chicken-and-egg situation, with the desire for new employees and those employees’ desire for different office environments feeding into each other to create new modes of work and new priorities.  “It’s a shifting dynamic that’s impacting multiple things, whether it’s talent and how to attract talent; it’s [environmental, social and governance criteria], sustainability, creating smart buildings, being a bit more environmentally friendly; and the technology,” Burns said. “Commercial real estate overall is an older workforce. To attract this new talent in a tight employment market, you have to invest in the technology to take your company to the next level.” Contact Lane Gillespie at lane.gillespie@bisnow.com

January Mortgage News & Education: Courtesy of thebalance.comPlease click on the logo to learn more.

January 3, 2022 –

Mortgage Interest Rates Forecast: How High Will Rates Go In 2022? – The prolonged low mortgage rates have offered some financial relief to homebuyers in the hot housing market during the past year, but that trend is not expected to last long into 2022. In fact, mortgage rates have steadily climbed from 2.67% in January 2021 to 3.12% by mid-December. Still, they’ve remained in the historically low 3% range throughout the year, according to data from Freddie Mac. However, mortgage rates are facing serious challenges as we head into the new year, namely skyward inflation, and the Federal Reserve’s plans to increase the federal funds rate and taper off from asset purchases—all of which could drive up mortgage rates. The consumer price index (CPI), which indicates the rate of inflation by looking at the cost of consumer goods and services, rose 6.8% for the previous 12-months ending in November, the highest jump for a one-year period since June 1982. Most housing experts point to inflation and the Fed accelerating its asset-purchase tapering as sure signs of higher mortgage rates, ranging in the upper 3% up to 4% by the end of 2022. Here’s a few predictions from market experts.

Mortgage Rate Forecast For 2022 – Michael Fratantoni, chief economist for the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), says rates could reach 4% by the end of 2022.  Lawren Yun, chief economist at the National Association of Realtors (NAR), forecasts mortgage rates to hit 3.7%. Selma Hepp, deputy chief economist at CoreLogic, predicts rates will be closer to 3.4%. Others are looking at Treasury yields to indicate that rates may not jump as much as widely predicted. “Given mortgage rates are closely tied to the 10-year Treasury yield, and that yield isn’t expected to rise much in the next year—if at all—rates could rise slightly but are likely to remain below 3.5%,” says Robert Frick, corporate economist for Navy Federal Credit Union. Danielle Hale, the chief economist at Realtor.com, expects rates to tick up about half a percentage point to 3.6% in 2022, a jump that’s “not big enough to disrupt the market.” “We don’t expect to see major shocks,” Hale says. “Rates have been so low for so long it might be surprising for some—but 3.6% was a record low in 2019.” There are curveballs like another significant spike in a Covid-19 variant that, if it causes the economy to retreat, we could see mortgage rates flatten or even drop. “The recent concerns around new COVID variants and potential impact on economic activity continue to create uncertainty and could keep the rates subdued,” says Hepp. “Nevertheless, even with expected increases, the low mortgage rate environment will remain favorable for potential homebuyers and those thinking about refinancing.”

Is Now a Good Time to Refinance? As rates continue to rise, the number of borrowers refinancing their mortgages has diminished. According to Black Knight, a real estate data analytics firm, the overall refinance share of the market was at 45% in October, the lowest it’s been since June 2021. And with rates set to rise again in 2022, many people who just bought homes within the last few years may not see the advantage of refinancing. However, while it’s difficult to try to time the market, homeowners who can shave between 0.5% to 1% of their interest rate by refinancing might want to make a move sooner rather than later. While refinancing options can lead to a lower monthly payment, not all of the options yield less interest over the life of the loan. For example, going from a 5% mortgage with 26 years left on it to a 4% rate but at 30 years, will cause you to pay more than $13,000 in interest. Before you start shopping around for a lender, you can find out how much you could save by using Forbes Advisor’s mortgage refinancing calculator. You’ll also want to consider how long you plan on staying in your home as the closing costs can eat up your savings if you sell shortly after refinancing. The closing costs to refinance run between 2% to 5% of the loan amount depending on the lender, so you should plan on keeping your home long enough to cover those costs and realize the savings from refinancing at a lower rate. Keep in mind, the rate you qualify for is dependent on factors such as your credit score, debt-to-income (DTI) ratio, loan-to-value ratio (LTV) and steady income.

Additional Resources: Here are a few references that we have found helpful in understanding our markets and economy… 

  Giving Back: Courtesy of thebalance.comPlease click on the logo to learn more.

I want to bring your attention to our charity commitment, UnBound. Through the generous contributions of more than 260,000 sponsors that make this work possible, Unbound celebrates more than 30,000 children, elders and families in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Chris-Properties has been a contributing sponsor since 2017. Will you join us?

Did you know that…

HAR.com is the most frequently visited public MLS site in the country, and these September 2021 numbers tell the story.

HAR December 2021

HAR.com is YOUR site.

Cheers to our prospects in 2022!