Texas' housing market shows signs of cooling down after the pandemic drove it to new heights – MyParisTexas.com

Texas had more houses on the market in July than any time since late 2020 as home sales declined in the state’s major metros. Sellers have had to cut prices to entice buyers.
After years of sharp rises in home prices and stiff competition to buy a home amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Texas housing market is starting to cool off.
Until recently, buyers competing for a limited supply of homes routinely had to pay more than the asking price and make offers on the spot. Now there are more homes for sale in Texas than at any time since fall 2020 — when the state’s pandemic housing crunch kicked off in earnest.
Home sales in Texas declined by more than 5% in the three months from April to June compared with the same period last year, data from the Texas Real Estate Research Center at Texas A&M University show. The Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio metropolitan areas saw similar drop-offs. In Austin, home sales have fallen more sharply — by 12%.
And after two years of a red-hot market, many sellers have cut prices to try to lure buyers who are facing higher mortgage rates, bloated home prices and inflation. That’s a sign that buyers are starting to gain an edge, real estate experts told The Texas Tribune.
“It’s still a seller’s market,” said Elizabeth McCoy, a Fort Worth real estate agent. “But certainly we’re seeing buyers be able to have a little bit more choice. And that’s such a good thing.”
That’s a marked shift from the height of the pandemic when historically low mortgage rates and a shift to working from home drove buyers — including Millennials who had postponed becoming homeowners — to snatch up houses so fast that the state’s supply plummeted and home prices rose an average of 28% between the start of the pandemic and the end of 2021.
Since the Federal Reserve began raising interest rates in the spring to try to slow rampant inflation, pushing mortgage rates higher too, the trend has begun to reverse across the state. Last July, 55,668 homes were listed for sale in Texas, according to the TRERC. A year later, that number had grown more than 50% to 83,513.
San Antonio, El Paso, Houston and the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex all saw double-digit growth in home listings last month — and a corresponding dip in the number of homes sold. Each metro area saw fewer home sales in the first seven months this year compared with the same period last year.
The drop-off has been particularly acute in Austin — where an already-hot housing market was super-charged during the pandemic, peaking in May when the median price for a home hit $550,000, compared with $305,000 in January 2020, just before the pandemic began.
Now, demand for housing in the capital city has tapered off. The number or houses for sale reached 8,709 in July — a 168% jump from the 3,251 listed in July 2021.
Ashley Jackson, the Austin Board of Realtors president-elect, said a home she has listed for sale in the suburb of Pflugerville might have immediately received multiple offers if it had been on the market earlier in the year. But now it’s surrounded by others for sale, and though it’s had a steady number of showings, she said, no one has made an offer.
Jackson said buyers are “not competing as hard for a home as in the past few years where we saw perhaps a buyer had to go 10% or 20% over asking [price]. Maybe now they can get a house at asking price or perhaps even under asking price.”
The median selling price of a Texas home has flattened over the past three months, hovering around $350,000 to $360,000, an all-time high for the state. Barring a recession, real estate experts don’t expect home prices to come down anytime soon because Texas is still gaining thousands of residents and its job market is still growing — but they do expect prices to grow more slowly than they did over the past two years.
“People are continuing to move here,” said Adam Perdue, a research economist at Texas A&M University’s TRERC. “So, there’s no reason to not think that all of our major metros in Texas as a whole still have that same underlying upward trend.”
And there’s still a mismatch between the number of homes for sale and the number of people seeking them. Experts in residential real estate consider six months’ worth of housing supply — meaning that it would take homebuyers six months to buy every home on the market — a healthy balance between buyers and sellers. Texas had 2.5 months of supply as of July, according to the Texas Real Estate Research Center.
Meanwhile, builders in some parts of the state pulled back on construction of new single-family homes after two years when construction surged. Building permits for new single-family homes across Texas fell by double digits in July compared with July 2021.
Mike Dishberger, a Houston townhome developer and incoming president of the Greater Houston Builders Association, said that’s because there weren’t as many buyers looking for homes.
But Dishberger said his firm has seen a recent uptick in potential buyers motivated to escape the state’s ballooning rents.
The state’s red-hot housing market pushed more would-be buyers into renting during the pandemic, driving rents up 12.4% over the past year and more than 21% since January 2020, according to Apartment List.
“What’s driving some of the foot traffic,” Dishberger said, “is that, ‘Hey, my rent used to be $1,500, now it’s $2,000.’”
Builders in Austin, San Antonio and the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex filed for fewer permits in the first seven months of this year than in the same period last year. The cost of building a home — labor, building materials and land among other factors — has gone up this year, driving down the number of permits, said Lawrence Dean, senior vice president at real estate research firm Zonda.
But there are “more new homes under construction right now than we’ve ever observed,” Dean said. More than 88,000 homes were under construction across Austin, San Antonio, Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth at the end of June, Dean said. And the state’s projected growth in population and jobs is expected to keep demand for homes up — though less so than during the height of the pandemic.
“Yes, there will be a meaningful decline versus what we saw even just a handful of years ago,” Dean said. “In most of the markets, we’re still expecting a higher volume than we would have a few years ago.”
As the housing market cools off, that should give some relief to renters too, said Laila Assanie, a senior business economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. Assanie expects average rent increases to drop from the crushing double-digit growth that defined the first two years of the pandemic — but remain higher than the typical increases seen before COVID-19 hit.
Developers of multifamily apartment complexes haven’t slowed down in the way that single-family homebuilders have, Assanie said, which could ease the pressure on renters when those complexes open — though it could take at least a year. More than 55,000 apartment units are under construction in Austin, Houston, San Antonio and the Dallas-Fort Worth area, according to tallies by ApartmentData.com.
“That will bring down rents eventually because we’ll have more supply,” Assanie said.
Even with the slowdown, renters who want to become homeowners will pay more than they would have before the pandemic. Typical entry-level homes for first-time buyers — priced at around $200,000 — are now much more difficult to find. The share of new homes in that price range is growing smaller each year as the cost to build a home increases, said Dean.
That all makes homeownership much more difficult for a first-time buyer, said McCoy, the Fort Worth real estate agent.
“The American dream is to own a home,” McCoy said. “But it’s just been a lot more difficult for first-time homebuyers.”
 
 
Source: Texas Tribune | BY Joshua Fechter





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As inflation skyrockets, local Texas governments ponder tax rate increases as they balance budgets – Beaumont Enterprise

The U.S. Department of Labor Statistics releases April’s Consumer Price Index report. 
JASPER — Every summer, Jasper County Judge Mark Allen begins to worry about two very different storms brewing: hurricanes and his county budget.
Allen and thousands of other local government officials across Texas entered this year’s budget season facing historic rates of inflation along with severe labor shortages. Complicating the budget process, counties and other taxing bodies say they can’t raise taxes to cover the growing costs of employee salaries and raw materials because their hands are tied by public pressure and recent legislation.
“It’s a situation where local governments are having to start siphoning off their emergency reserves, or just not be able to provide services to people,” said Allen, who has been the East Texas county’s top elected official for more than 15 years. “We’re losing quality personnel to the private sector, where they go out and try to find better-paying jobs and better benefits.”
In 2019, state lawmakers passed two pieces of legislation to address rising property taxes and, they said, to create more transparency for Texas homeowners. The bills, which were signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott, require taxing bodies such as counties and cities to win voter approval if they want to raise property tax revenues more than 3.5% from the previous year’s tax base. Under the new legislation, school districts are essentially limited to 2.5% growth in tax revenue each year.
That means that even though home values have skyrocketed, government bodies are not necessarily reaping the rewards of that growth.
Now, as counties, cities and school districts push to finalize their budgets before the start of the new fiscal year on Oct. 1, they face tough questions. Many are calculating whether it’s worth seeking voter approval to raise tax revenues beyond the 3.5% cap. Others are choosing to adopt a so-called no-new-revenue tax rate to provide relief to taxpayers — many of whom are likewise struggling to adjust to a new economic reality of higher prices.
Jasper, which has 35,000 residents and is one of Texas’ easternmost counties, decided on the latter last week. Commissioners approved a tax rate that will bring in the same amount of property tax revenue as the last budget. On average, most Jasper homeowners will see only minor changes to their bills from the county.
“We did that as an effort to keep the peace,” said Allen, explaining that taxpayers were upset when they saw historic growth in the appraised values of their homes and assumed those higher values would translate to higher tax bills.
“The reality is that it’s just getting harder and harder to operate,” Allen said. “It’s hard to look at your employees and say, ‘Well, we know that the cost of living this year is 8.9% higher, but we’re only going to be able to give you all a 2% cost of living adjustment.’”
More power for taxpayers
Local governments in Texas rely heavily on property tax revenue to pay for salaries of police officers and firefighters, as well as for government services including roads, libraries and public schools.
Unlike most other states, Texas does not have a state income tax, and property tax bills are among the highest in the nation.
Each year, appraisal districts assess home values and then notify homeowners of how much their houses are worth. Later, local governments decide how much money they will need to provide public services. They then set a property tax rate that will allow them to collect the amount of revenue needed. Some governments have access to additional sources of revenue — for example, school districts receive state and federal funds, and some counties receive sales taxes.
According to the comptroller’s office, property tax collections have risen more than 20% since 2017.
“Historically, where there’s been a big increase in the total assessed value, some taxing jurisdictions have just left their property tax rates the same as the year before,” said Charles Gilliland, an economist at the Texas Real Estate Research Center. That results in huge increases in Texas homeowners’ property taxes.
A pair of bills in 2019 tried to address this. House Bill 3, a school finance bill, included about $5.1 billion devoted to lowering Texans’ property tax bills.
Senate Bill 2, meanwhile, limited most other taxing units to 3.5% revenue growth, unless a majority of voters approve a higher tax rate in an election.
Before 2019, taxing entities could raise up to 8% more revenue each year. If a county wanted to go beyond that rate, voters could petition for an election to roll back the tax rate to one that would generate only 8% growth.
According to an assessment from the Texas Taxpayers and Research Association, a business trade group that concentrates on tax and fiscal policy, those two pieces of legislation have helped curb Texans’ property taxes. In 2021, property tax bills totaled $73 billion. They would have totaled $79 billion without the legislation, according to the analysis.
Dale Craymer, president of the association, said that more important than these savings is the role voters now have in setting tax policy.
“The legislation gives the public a greater say in their property taxes,” he says. “It gives the public a tool to constrain taxes.”
Early successes in asking voters for more money
Some counties and school districts have successfully gone beyond the revenue growth limit with an election. Last year, Lubbock County voters approved a property tax hike to fund salary increases for sheriff’s deputies.
This year, Lubbock County approved the maximum tax rate it could set without triggering an election.
The U.S. Department of Labor Statistics releases April's Consumer Price Index report. 
Pastor Bart Barber, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, preaches from the pulpit of the First Baptist Church of Farmersville, Texas, on Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022. For nearly a quarter-century, Barber enjoyed relative obscurity as a pastor in this town of 3,600, about 50 miles northeast of Dallas. That changed in June as delegates to the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting in California, chose Barber to lead the nation’s largest Protestant denomination at a time of major crisis.
“If you keep jumping everybody’s taxes by 8% every year, that’s a problem,” said Lubbock County Commissioner Jason Corley. Corley voted against this year’s proposed tax rate, saying he wanted to keep tax rates even lower.
Still, counties have had to get creative when it comes to figuring out how to provide the same level of service to their constituents amid price increases and labor shortages, he said.
“People are saying, ‘I can’t hire a plumber,’” Corley said. “Well, I can’t hire a lawyer in the DA’s office either.”
Lubbock has found cost savings in employee benefits by relying on private contractors. The West Texas county also saved on utility costs by having certain court hearings virtually instead of in air-conditioned courthouses.
Several school districts, including Fort Bend Independent School District and Katy ISD, have decided to hold property tax rate elections in November to bring in more revenue.
Other school districts have adopted budgets that include millions of dollars in deficits. Lufkin ISD’s board of trustees last month adopted a $4.3 million deficit for its new budget.
“With inflation and higher costs, our dollars are not stretching as far as we need them to,” Charlotte Bynum, chief financial officer for Lufkin ISD, said in an email. “Our goal is to hire teachers and compensate them well, but with all the costs that seem to be increasing every budget year, it is challenging.”
State Sen. Paul Bettencourt, the Houston Republican who authored the local government tax cap, has called out school districts holding tax-rate elections, saying they shouldn’t need to take more dollars from voters this year.
“I reject the premise that they are being squeezed,” said Bettencourt, noting that school districts received additional state dollars and even more money from the federal government during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bettencourt also emphasized that cities and counties can generate more than 3.5% annual growth through new property developments, which are excluded from the 3.5% calculation.
“SB-2 was designed to function in a low inflationary time and a high inflationary time,” he said.
Craymer, the tax policy executive, said it would be reasonable for the state to adopt a higher revenue threshold during years when inflation is particularly high.
“I’m certainly sensitive to local jurisdictions’ concerns about inflation,” he said.
Disclosure: The Texas comptroller of public accounts and the Texas Taxpayers and Research Association have been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune’s journalism. Find a complete list of them here.
The U.S. Department of Labor Statistics releases April's Consumer Price Index report. 
Pastor Bart Barber, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, preaches from the pulpit of the First Baptist Church of Farmersville, Texas, on Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022. For nearly a quarter-century, Barber enjoyed relative obscurity as a pastor in this town of 3,600, about 50 miles northeast of Dallas. That changed in June as delegates to the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting in California, chose Barber to lead the nation’s largest Protestant denomination at a time of major crisis.

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Three For The Money: This Trio of D-FW Homes is Among Most Expensive in Texas – CandysDirt.com – Candy's Dirt

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An $11.5 million new build in Highland Park, a classic former show home on Deloache Avenue, and a $9 million estate in Tarrant County made the August roundup of the most expensive single-family home listings in Texas. 
The monthly report issued by the Houston Association of Realtors includes the following homes in its top 10 priciest of the month: 
An $11.5 million home at  3704 Stratford Ave., Highland Park, is No. 4 on the list of most expensive homes in Texas for the month of August. 
The 8,331-square-foot mansion features five bedrooms and five and one-half bathrooms, and is slated for completion in November. 
Stunning stone work, a manicured landscape, and floor-to-ceiling windows decorate this residence in the Park Cities neighborhood. Special features include a wine room, ensuite bathrooms in all five bedrooms, a pool bath with full shower, an elevator, and a game room. 
This stunning home also is in one of the best school districts in the state. Highland Park ISD recently received a 98 out of 100 rating from the Texas Education Agency. 
Realtor Jonathan Rosen with Compass Real Estate has the listing. 
The gated classic Georgian estate at 5138 Deloache Ave. is No. 6 on the most expensive home list with a price tag of $9.75 million. 
Featured as a Kips Bay Decorator Show House last year, the Preston Hollow residence has six bedrooms and seven and one-half bathrooms on more than an acre. The backyard is basically a city park of landscaped grounds. 
Architect Cole Smith designed the home with a dramatic foyer, multiple living areas, two full kitchens, a sunroom, wine cellar, theater, playhouse, pool, and five-car garage. 
It was recently remodeled and is listed for $9.75 million. 
Realtor Alex Perry with Allie Beth Allman & Associates has the listing. 
The Tarrant County property at 1208 Perdenalas Trail, Westlake, made the most expensive list, tying for No. 8 with a Lakeview Point Road home in Palo Pinto County’s Possum Kngdom. Both homes are listed at $8.995 million. 
The private Perdenalas abode is at the end of a cul-de-sac on an acre in the Vaquero neighborhood. The estate home features classic architecture with modern finishes including Travertine flooring transitions to 10-inch-wide planked hardwood flooring and exposed beams with sandblasted finish. The kitchen boasts Taj Mahal quartzite counters and backsplash. 
The basement level has a media room, 950-bottle wine cellar, and reinforced safe room. There are six bedrooms and six and one-half bathrooms, but if that’s not enough, there’s a separate casita for guests. The master bath has an exercise room and his-and-hers separate baths. The covered patio features recessed screens, built-in heaters, a fireplace, and grill adjacent to the pool with an oversized spa. 
The area is zoned for B-rated Keller ISD.  
Realtor Jeff Watson with Compass Real Estate has the listing. 
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Northeast Texas's Best Fall Festivals in 2022 – frontporchnewstexas.com

 

Festivals can be a fun way to bring you and your family closer together. There’s nothing like a good laugh to create unforgettable memories. Kicking off the fall with a splash of festivity might be just what you need to cure your end of summer blues. 
There are a handful of diverse festivals to choose from. Whatever suits your taste, we’ve got you covered! 
Hopkins County Stew Contest in 2021/ FPN
Hopkins County Stew– The annual Hopkins County Stew festival brings together over 175 cooks to Buford Park in Sulphur Springs, to see who can cook up the best pot of Hopkins County stew. The cooks are up at 3 am starting their pots so you can enjoy some stew when they open for serving at 10 am.  This is one of the best priced food festivals in the State of Texas, $7 gets you a bowl and an unlimited amount of stew.  Eat until you can’t eat any more or until the stew pots run dry. Check out The Oak Bed and Breakfast or the Oaklea Mansion for accommodations. October 22, Buford Park, Sulphur Springs TX, 10:30 a.m.- ? Tickets: https://www.hopkinschamber.org/hopkins-county-stew-contest/
Hopkins County Fall Festival: In the mood for classic carnival rides and food so shamefully good it has its own craving? If so, you might want to add Hopkins County Fall Festival to your calendar.There will be a parade, rides, arts and crafts, food vendors, and more. 1200 Houston Street, in Sulphur Springs, Texas October 15 through October 22, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Learn more: https://www.sulphurspringstx.org/visitors/hopkins_county_fall_festival2.php
Oak Tree Festival: If you’re interested in something that appeals to you and your kids, you might want to check out the Oak Tree Festival. There will be something fun for everyone including bounce houses, pet costume contest, car show, facepainting and more. Lone Oak downtown, Texas, on October 29, 2-10 p.m. Read more: https://www.facebook.com/oaktreefestival/
Hopkins County Fall Festival in 2021/ FPN
Delta County Cotton Harvest Festival: If you’re into live music, antique cars, and contributing to new local businesses, then the Delta County Cotton Harvest Festival is for you. There will be a tractor pull for your kids and live music sung by Kameron Marlowe. Downtown Cooper, Texas, on the weekend of October 8 from 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Tickets: https://deltacountycottonharvest.com/
Main Street Uncorked– East Texas wineries showcase the best, plus vendors and live music. Main Street, Sulphur Springs, Texas, October 8, 1 p.m.- 7 p.m. Tickets: https://www.facebook.com/mainstreetuncorked/
Longview Wine Festival: Want even more wine? Then the Longview Wine Festival is a great way to start. There will be live music, arts and crafts, food vendors, and last but not least, wine. The Longview Wine Festival supports East Texas Alzheimer’s Alliance. The funds collected at this event will be invested right back into the community.  Longview Arboretum and Nature Center, October 15, 12-6 p.m. More information: https://etxalz.org/longview-wine-festival/.
Main Street Uncorked in 2021/ FPN
Terror Trails– For those who love spooks and frights and bumps in the night, the Terror Trails is open this year! Every Friday and Saturday night in October and Halloween night. Opening night is September 30, trails open from sunset until midnight. Admission: $10.00 Adults – $8.00 under 13. September 30- October 30, 1085 Co Rd 1960, Yantis, TX 75497. Tickets: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100057607354956
VR Screamfest– Sulphur Springs business VR social arcade has a week of spooky funtivities planned. Starting October 24-28 they will host screenings of scary movies. Join on October 29 for a “screamwalk” in scary costumes to the Sulphur Springs downtown square. October 24-29, VR Social at 107 Spring Street in Sulphur Springs. Learn more: https://www.facebook.com/VRSocialTX/
Vintage Market Days of East Texas– The Vintage Market is coming to Northeast Texas with lots of trinkets and handmade designs. There’s a treasure for everyone. Pickers Pavillion in Lindale, Texas, November 11-13, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. More: https://vintagemarketdays.com/market/east-texas/index.php
EDOM Arts Festival: If you’ve been meaning to branch out or express your artistic side then the EDOM Arts Festival might be right up your alley. There will be worthwhile crafts and activities for all diverse tastes. Edom area Chamber of Commerce, 8301 FM27 Edom, Texas, October 8-9, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. More info: https://visitedom.com/edom-art-fest-blank/edom-art-festival-2/
East Texas Fiber Festival: If you love to knit, crochet, weave or sew, then the East Texas Fiber Festival is for you! Craft vendors, demonstrations and mini-classes. November 18-19, 800 Flea Market Road, Canton TX, 75103. More info: https://easttexasfiberfestival.weebly.com/
Hopkins County Fall festival parade in 2021/ FPN
Halloween on the Square- The spookiest month of the year is finally making its way. Halloween on the square is an enjoyable and safe way for your kids to celebrate without worry. Downtown square of Leonard, Texas, on October 31, 2022, from 5-7 p.m. More info: https://leonardchamber.com/event/halloween-on-the-square-2022/
Winnsboro Art and Wine Festival: Assuming parents are exhausted and need an evening out every so often, the Winnsboro Art and Wine Festival has got you covered. Artists from all over come to showcase their work along with Texas wineries that come to exhibit their award-winning wines to sample and buy. There will also be food vendors to appease your cravings throughout the day. 200 Market St, Winnsboro, Texas, on November 11-12, from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. More info: https://winnsborocenterforthearts.com/art-wine-festival/
Rowdy Creek Ranch Dinner and Concert Benefit: Maybe the Second Annual Dinner and Concert Benefit will be your style. After buying your ticket, you will be provided dinner, drinks, The Rok Dox band, raffles and more.This occasion benefits Love Them More Ministries. ¨We provide duffle bags and the first night essentials for children in thirty counties all over East Texas that are removed from their homes and placed in foster care due to neglect and abuse,¨ says the Eventbrite website about Love Them More Ministries.  Rowdy Creek Ranch in Gilmer, Texas, on November 11, from 6-10 p.m. Tickets: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/2nd-annual-dinner-and-concert-benefit-tickets-407116675937?aff=erelexpmlt
Titus County Halloween in the Park: Trunk or treating is a safer alternative to collecting candy for Halloween. Children can walk car to car in their costumes to play games, win prizes, and grab some sweet treats. 114 N. Jefferson Ave., Mt. Pleasant, Texas, on October 29. Read more: https://mpcity.net/events/halloween-in-the-park-drive-thru
Monster Mile 5k Glow Run/ Walk: For those who want to get outside and enjoy the fall weather, you might take interest in the 5k Glow Run/ Walk and Monster Mile. The 5k is for ages 11-100 and costs fifteen dollars for entry, but includes a t-shirt. The Monster Mile is for kids eleven and under. Entry is free, but shirts are fifteen dollars. This run will take place at 210 E. Hiram St., Atlanta, Texas, on October 22, from 6-8 p.m. Register: https://runsignup.com/Race/TX/Atlanta/5KGLOWRunMonsterMile
Special Needs Fall Fest -Every person is important, and the Special Needs Fall Fest makes note of that. Allevents.in says ¨2022 Free Fall program for the special needs community of the Texarkana area.¨ 415 S. Robinson Rd., Texarkana, Texas, on October 19. Register: https://allevents.in/texarkana/texarkana-special-needs-fall-fest/200023296852941
Fall Market of Texarkana– Shop local vendors while your kids make fun crafts at the Fall Market of Texarkana. This fall festivity will be located at The Silvermoon on Broad in Texarkana, Texas. It will be from 3-7 p.m. on October 9, 2022. Read more: https://allevents.in/texarkana/fall-market-by-healthcare-express/200023296855151
State Fair of Texas/ State Fair of Texas
State Fair of Texas: The State Fair of Texas is an almost month-long extravaganza of food, animals, rides and so much more.  All fair goers can experience the best fried foods in Texas at this event and explore new, amazing food combinations that will leave no one hungry.  Don’t forget about the Red River Shootout between The University of Texas and Oklahoma University, on October 8th, at Cotton Bowl Stadium. There is so much to do and see at the State Fair that you will want to plan for more than one day. For bed and breakfast lodging check out The Gaston. September 30 – October 23, Fair Park, Dallas. Tickets: https://bigtex.com/buy-tickets-new/
Texas Renaissance Festival: The Texas Ren fest is a long-standing Texas tradition that is open every weekend starting on October 8th for food, entertainment, and so much more.  Step back in time to experience the Middle Ages with Knights, Kings, Queens and jesters.  Explore the fair grounds and eat the food of the realm, while you take in a show or just watch the people.  The Texas Ren fest is bound to have something for the whole family to enjoy.  Come as you are or dress in a period costume or fit the weekend theme. Look for accommodations at a local campground or Log Cabin B n B, Hodge Podge Lodge, or Maple Creek bed and breakfast. October 8 – November 27 (weekends only)  21778 FM 1774, Todd Mission, TX 77363
Screams– Screams is a great time to explore the ultimate Halloween experience.  If you like to live on the wild side and don’t mind having the life scared out of you, this is the place to do it.  Food and drinks are available for when you are not exploring the haunted houses or watching a show.  For your bed and breakfast stay, check out English Merchants Inn, Chaska House bed and breakfast, or Winding Ridge bed and breakfast. September 30 – October 29 (weekends and nights only) 2511 FM 66, Waxahachie, TX 75167. Tickets: https://screamspark.com/
Autumn at the Arboretum/ Dallas Arboretum
Autumn at the Dallas Arboretum: Autumn at the Arboretum is a beautiful sight to experience.  The Arboretum transforms into a fall paradise with pumpkin and gourd displays all based around this year’s theme “A Fall Fairy Tale.”  Bring the whole family to experience this transformation and explore some popular fairy tales as they come alive with fall colors. September 17-October 31, 8525 Garland Road, Dallas, Texas 75218
Floydada Punkin’ Days: Come experience the Pumpkin Capital of Texas in style at their annual Punkin’ Days festival.  Held the second weekend of October there is fun for the whole family.  With pie eating contests, costume contests and so much more.  Don’t forget about the pumpkins. Be sure to check out Hotel Matador, Slanton Harvey House, or the Woodrow House for local accommodation for the festival. October 8-9, 105 5th S Street Floydada, TX    
Cuero Turkeyfest- The Cuero Turkeyfest will be celebrating its fiftieth anniversary this year, and it’s bound to be a big one.  The weekend will be full of family fun activities, turkey races, concerts and food contests.  Join in this celebration of America’s Thanksgiving Dinner bird. For your bed and breakfast accommodations check out Broadway House Bed and Breakfast. October 7 – 9, Cuero Municipal Park, Cuero, TX
Rennaissance Faire/ Allison Libby-Thesing
Chappell Hill Scarecrow Festival– Never underestimate the importance of a scarecrow to keep your crops safe. Chappell Hill has never taken them for granted and has even gone so far as to celebrate the Scarecrow with it’s own festival.  With food, exhibits, vendors and entertainment you can be sure that the whole family will enjoy this event.  Local accommodations can be found at Ant Street Inn,  Main Street House, and Ross Carroll Bennett House bed and breakfast. October 8 -9, 5070 Main St, Chappell Hill, TX 77426
Día de los Muertos– The day of the Dead is celebrated every year in San Antonio, Texas and has been touted at one of the best festivals by National Geographic.  This historical celebration of remembrance can experienced by everyone.  The Dia de los Muertos is filled with artisans, experiences and of course food and music.  Choose to stay at one of these local bed and breakfast locations; Arbor House, one of three Nobel Inns locations, or the Brackenridge House bed and breakfast. October 29-30, 630 Nueva St., San Antonio, TX 78205
Red Stegall Cowboy Gathering: The Red Stegall Cowboy Gathering actually starts in Jacksboro, TX with a wagon train that leaves out a week before the festival in Fort Worth.  It arrives at the Stockyards and that’s when the local fun begins.  Show off your cowboy skills, or just enjoy watching those who have done it before.  There is fun for everyone in this classic Texas event.  Check out the Rosen House Inn or The Virginia May for your overnight accommodations. October 28-30, Fort Worth Stockyards, Ft. Worth, TX
No matter what you´re interested in, there’s a celebration for everyone. Fall is the best season to celebrate surrounded by family and friends, so don’t miss out on the fun!
By Mattison Holland and Allison Libby-Thesing. Taylor Nye contributed to this report

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Mortgage rates rising again as number of new listings of home for sale falls in Houston – Houston Chronicle

Mortgage rates are rising again, raising the cost of purchasing a home for Houston homebuyers already facing elevated prices. A for sale sign in shown outside a home in the Heights Monday, May 2, 2022, in Houston.
The home sales market may be slowing in Houston, but homebuyers aren’t catching many breaks as mortgage rates rose again this week and fewer sellers put homes on the market here.
The average rate for a 30-year fixed loan climbed to 5.66 percent this week,up from last week 5.55 percent a week ago, according to the government-sponsored enterprise Freddie Mac. That’s almost double the rates from this time last year, when average rates were around 2.87 percent.
A buyer taking out a roughly $350,000 loan could expect to pay about $573 more monthly in mortgage payments than they did a year ago if they were to receive those average rates, before taxes, insurance and other fees.
After hitting a high this year of 5.81 percent in June, mortgage rates have been on a volatile ride, even falling this summer, but jumping back up last week after the Federal Reserve indicated it would continue its efforts to curb inflation. The Federal Reserve doesn’t set mortgage rates but its actions impact the mortgage market.
“The increase in mortgage rates is coming at a particularly vulnerable time for the housing market as sellers are recalibrating their pricing due to lower purchase demand, likely resulting in continued price growth deceleration,” said Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s Chief Economist.
While prices aren’t expected to drop back to pre-pandemic lows, the rapid price growth seen in 2021 appears to be in the rear-view mirror with median prices even dipping on a monthly basis nationally and in Houston.
RELATED: Houston home sales see biggest drop since COVID
A median priced home in Houston was about $348,740 in July – a slight month-over-month decline from the record price set in May ($354,614),  but still up by about 12.7 percent from a year ago, according to Houston Association of Realtors. Average sales prices in Houston are at about $426,494, not a record but still 9.9 percent above prices from July last year, when average prices were $387,999.
Even with that price growth deceleration, buyers are still in bind as inflation has effectively lopped off a portion of their paychecks – leaving many unable to afford higher monthly payments.
Applications for mortgages hit a multi-decade low last week, falling 3.7 percent the week ending in August 26, according to the industry trade group Mortgage Banker’s Association.
“Purchase applications have declined in eight of the last nine weeks, as demand continues to shrink due to higher rates and a weaker economic outlook,” said Joel Kan, MBA’s Associate Vice President of Economic and Industry Forecasting. “However, rising inventories and slower home-price growth could potentially bring some buyers back into the market later this year.”
RELATED: Homebuilder launches new community near Lake Conroe, another in Montgomery County
While some buyers may return to the market as they seen some signs of a slowdown, the cool off is also dissuading some sellers from listing their properties. The amount of new homes getting put on the market was down 15 percent year-over-year in the four-week period ending August 21, according to Redfin.
In Houston, the number of new homes listed on the market last week was down  17 percent year-over-year – marking the fifth straight week of declining new inventory, according to HAR. That could mean that buyers here are still facing limited inventories even as the market is less frenzied than last year.
“Sellers are coming to terms with the fact that volatile mortgage rates have dampened demand. Some sellers are pricing lower, and some homeowners are staying put because they’re nervous they won’t get a good offer or they’re hesitant to give up their low mortgage rate,” said Redfin Economics Research Lead Chen Zhao in a statement.
Marissa Luck covers real estate for the Houston Chronicle.
Originally from Hawaii, Marissa previously covered refining and chemicals for the Chronicle and also had stints at Costar, the Austin Business Journal and The Daily News in Longview, Wash.
She grew up near Seattle and studied international political economy at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash.
Larhonda Biggles is still seeking justice for her son years after his death at the Harris County jail, which led to the firing of nearly a dozen guards. 
By Alejandro Serrano

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Last Call: Big Storm Brewing Spearheads Relief Efforts in Hurricane Ian's Wake; Death of the Fox Files Lawsuit Against New Jersey's 'Draconian' Taproom Restrictions – Brewbound.com

Big Storm Brewing Spearheads Relief Efforts in Hurricane Ian’s Wake
As residents of southwest Florida begin to grapple with the effects of Hurricane Ian, Clearwater-based Big Storm Brewing will fill water jugs and open some of its taprooms as supply drop-off points for people in need.
Ian came ashore as a Category 4 hurricane on Wednesday. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis estimated 21 residents have died, a number that is expected to climb as recovery efforts progress. Nearly two million people are without power in the region, according to ABC News.
“We are open and the whole reason to be open is so we can be a drop-off site,” Big Storm co-owner L.J. Govoni said in a press release. “Our hearts go out to those hit the hardest by Ian, and we are rallying the Tampa Bay community as fast as we safely can to help what could be hundreds of our fellow Floridians in crisis.”
Big Storm operates taprooms in Clearwater, Odessa, Orlando and Cape Coral. The former two are open and serving as collection points for donations of non-perishable foods, personal care items and cleaning and sanitation supplies. The taproom in Cape Coral, a town hit hard by Ian, appears to have experienced extensive storm damage, according to a tweet from Govoni.
Cell service is so bad in #swflorida right now. Only 2 pix that they could get us from our #capecoralfl location. Pray for everyone that lives there. This is going to be a very long few months. pic.twitter.com/bcEAe3rh8S
— LJ Govoni (@LJGovoni) September 30, 2022

Islamorada Beer – based in Fort Pierce on Florida’s Atlantic coast, which was spared by the storm – will also serve as a collection point.
In a video posted to social media, Govoni thanked donors for their contributions and welcomed support from relief organizations.
“We’ve got a lot of neighbors and friends that are hurting right now, so thank you so much for helping us,” he said. “Any other groups, foundations, nonprofits, and charitable missions that want to piggyback off what we’re doing, we would love the help.”
A message from @LJGovoni regarding the SWFL relief effort. If you are in any position to help, please reach out. pic.twitter.com/5m1owr6g5S
— Big Storm Brewing Co (@BigStormBrewing) September 29, 2022

The National Hurricane Center has issued a warning that Hurricane Ian is strengthening over the Atlantic Ocean and could bring a “life-threatening storm surge” to the coast of South Carolina.
Death of the Fox Files Lawsuit Against New Jersey’s ‘Draconian’ Taproom Restrictions
One Garden State brewer has filed a lawsuit against the New Jersey Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control (NJABC), which announced this summer it would begin enforcement of operating restrictions on limited brewery licensees.
Clarksboro, New Jersey-based Death of the Fox Brewing has filed a lawsuit in the Superior Court of New Jersey Appellate Division over what its lawyers have called “unlawful brewery restrictions.”
The issues stem from a special ruling the NJABC issued in 2019 that limited most of the state’s 130 craft breweries to hosting 25 special events each per year (including standard weekly events hosted at breweries across the country, such as trivia nights and yoga classes), prohibits them from serving food or inviting food trucks to operate nearby, and bans them from selling any beverages that were not produced onsite.
Death of the Fox is the state’s only combined coffee roaster and craft brewery and was allowed to continue selling its own coffee, according to a Facebook post.
The NJABC has argued that the special conditions exist to “strike a fair and appropriate balance between the interests of full retail license holders, such as restaurants and bars, and the craft brewing industry,” a spokesperson told Brewbound in July.
The Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF), which is representing Death of the Fox pro bono, argues that bars and restaurants are fundamentally different from breweries because “breweries can sell only their own product.”
“These rules exist only to protect established businesses by hamstringing newcomers’ ability to thrive. But they are unlawful,” PLF wrote. “For one, capping the number of ‘on-site special events’ that may be advertised violates the First Amendment.
“State law also requires that rulemaking agencies follow proper notice-and-comment procedures when imposing new rules; they must also submit a proposed rule to the legislature,” the foundation continued. “The NJABC did neither, which means the whole laundry list of rules imposed through the ABC’s Special Ruling are invalid.”
New Jersey legislators have filed several bills that would loosen restrictions on the state’s breweries and are preparing to tweak the regulations, according to the New Jersey Monitor.
Minneapolis’ Able Brewery to Close October 1
Minneapolis-based Able Seedhouse and Brewery will shut its doors on Saturday, October 1, after seven years in business, the brewery announced.
“In [seven] years the world and our business has changed so much,” Able Brewery wrote in an Instagram post. “Many of you have grown with us, started families, moved here and away and changed a lot from the first day we poured our beer in November of 2015.”
The brewery’s output increased +15% in 2021, to 1,715 barrels, according to the Brewers Association’s (BA) May/June issue of the New Brewer magazine. The pandemic caused Able Brewery’s volume to decline -32% in 2020, to 1,490 barrels, its lowest since its first full year in business (1,054 barrels in 2015, according to the May/June 2020 New Brewer).
Able Brewery’s taproom is slated for transformation, as it will “reopen shortly under the leadership of a new entity who is buying the production and taproom assets from Able Brewery,” the company wrote.
“We’re excited that the legacy of our beautiful taproom will live on with new energy and a new team,” Able Brewery said.
Colorado’s El Rancho Brewing Files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection
A month and a half after being listed for sale, Evergreen, Colorado-based El Rancho Brewing has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Colorado.
According to court filings, El Rancho owes $3,558,010.98 to its 20 largest unsecured creditors, which includes the claims of two partially secured creditors: First Bank, which is owed $1.45 million, and the Small Business Administration’s Colorado District Office, which is owed $920,004.23.
Unsecured creditors include the Internal Revenue Service, which is owed $555,793.85 in unpaid federal withholding tax; the Jefferson County Treasurer, which is owed $449,079.57 in various local taxes; and Shamrock Foods, which is owed $42,099.33.
El Rancho estimated both its assets and liabilities are between $1,000,001 and $10 million. First Bank filed a foreclosure motion on the nearly $1.5 million loan in July, according to BusinessDen. The Vincent family, El Rancho’s owners, took out the loan when they acquired the property in 2015.
The 21,885 sq. ft. building and the 4.4 acres it sits on are still listed for sale on Hilco Real Estate’s website, despite bids being due on September 6.
Last year, El Rancho produced 420 barrels of beer, according to the BA.
67 Degrees Brewing to Helm Boston City Hall Plaza Beer Garden
Franklin, Massachusetts-based 67 Degrees Brewing has been selected to operate a seasonal beer garden on Boston City Hall Plaza, Mayor Michelle Wu announced this week.
The beer garden opened Wednesday, September 28, and will run until early November through a partnership between the city’s Office of Economic Opportunity and Inclusion (OEOI) and Property Management Department.
“City Hall Plaza is a space to bring people together and build community,” Wu said in a press release. “I’m grateful to 67 Degrees Brewing and excited to welcome residents, workers and visitors to join us at the newly reopened Beer Garden at Fischer Park on City Hall Plaza.”
67 Degrees is a Black, woman and veteran-owned company that opened in 2020.
Diageo to Depart DISCUS, Focus on Internal Initiatives
Diageo is parting ways with the trade association the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS), Politico reported this week.
The bev-alc giant will not renew its DISCUS membership at the end of the year and will instead focus on internal initiatives, including promoting sustainability; diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI); and safe drinking practices. The split is reportedly “amicable,” with the door open for Diageo to return in the future.
“Like most companies, we periodically review our memberships in industry organizations, and we make decisions based on what we believe is in the best interest of our company,” Diageo spokesperson Lorenzo Lopez told Politico. “At this time, we have chosen to focus our resources on key strategic priorities which we would like to pursue, but we will remain an active and committed player in the industry.”
Diageo is one of 17 DISCUS director members, according to the trade group’s website. The company has worked closely with DISCUS on its recent DEI efforts – a significant priority for DISCUS in 2022 – through its partnership with Pronghorn, a group dedicated to correcting inequity in the bev-alc industry, in which Diageo is an anchor investor. That work is expected to continue, as well as Diageo’s work with the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility – or Responsibility.org – a DISCUS-run foundation to end drunk driving and underage drinking, and promote responsible alcohol consumption.
“We acknowledge Diageo’s decision and express thanks and appreciation for their significant contributions over the years, working alongside DISCUS and their peers to help modernize the marketplace for the distilled spirits industry,” DISCUS CEO Chris Swonger said in a statement.
The news follows DISCUS’ Annual Public Policy Conference, co-hosted with the American Craft Spirits Association (ACSA) earlier this month. A priority topic for the event was rallying support for the USPS Shipping Equity Act, which would allow the United States Postal Service to ship beverage-alcohol to consumers.
DISCUS also announced a commitment this week to provide serving facts information – including serving size, calorie count and carbohydrate, protein and fat grams – on spirits products distributed by its members by June 2024. The commitment came out of the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health, held on September 28. Diageo was still listed as a participating member at the time of the announcement.
JuneShine Nixes Home Delivery Service
Hard kombucha maker JuneShine has ceased its direct-to-consumer (DTC) sales via online ordering and home delivery, citing sustainability concerns and rising shipping costs.
“We know this is a big change for our loyal home delivery customers, but we’re looking forward to getting deliciously cold JuneShine on more shelves at stores, restaurants, venues, and bars, than ever before,” the company wrote in a blog post. “With sustainability as a core focus of our brand and the drastic increase in inflation and shipping costs, we no longer can provide a home delivery business that meets our sustainability standards.”
Texas’ Buffalo Bayou Brewing Sued for Nonpayment of Financial Services
A financial services firm has filed a lawsuit against Houston, Texas-based Buffalo Bayou Brewing (BuffBrew), claiming the brewery has failed to pay a $94,000 transaction fee owed to the firm, according to the Houston Chronicle.
Pimuro Capital Partners began working with BuffBrew in August 2021 after the brewery enlisted its services to increase revenue and reduce costs. Court documents describe BuffBrew’s situation as one of “a failing Houston-based brewing company in dire financial straits,” according to the Chronicle.
Earlier this year, BuffBrew defaulted on $1 million in crowdfunding payments raised on NextSeed in 2017 and 2018, which were used to fund a new brewery that opened in November 2019. Crowdfunding platforms such as NextSeed and Kickstarter have been popular among craft breweries looking to raise capital; however, investors – usually consumers – are often met with mixed results.
BuffBrew raised the $1 million it defaulted on from 583 investors to whom seven payments were made, according to NextSeed. To incentivize investors, BuffBrew offered generous perks, such as one free beer daily in perpetuity to anyone who invested $1,000 or more.
Because the brewery reached its $1 million goal, it agreed to pay investors back at a 1.9x multiple over the 78-month life of the loans. Those payments were never made in full.
BuffBrew produced 13,500 barrels of beer in 2021, according to the BA.
Georgia’s Tucker Brewing Forced to Pay Back Wages
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) forced Tucker, Georgia-based Tucker Brewing to pay back $8,149 in back wages and damages to two former employees.
The former workers asked about their earnings and Tucker’s tip-sharing system, and brewery management terminated both as a result, despite the written inquiry being protected by the Fair Labor Standards Act.
“Two workers were well within their rights to ask about how they were being paid, especially when they believed the employer’s pay practices were unfair or incorrect,” DOL wage and hour division district director Steven Salazar said in a press release. “Employers should review their pay and other employment practices to avoid legal and financial headaches. Listening to employees’ concerns about workplace compliance can be good for the business and all the company’s workers.”
Tucker Brewing produced 1,475 barrels of beer in 2021, according to the BA.
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Texas real estate company buys Har Mar Mall in Roseville for $50 million – Yahoo News

A Texas-based real estate investment company has bought the Har Mar Mall in Roseville for $50.25 million, according to a filing on record with the Minnesota Department of Revenue.
Based outside of Houston, Fidelis Realty Partners is one of Texas’ largest commercial real estate companies, with a longstanding focus on shopping plazas and strip malls in Texas and other corners of the South. Har Mar appears to be its first Minnesota property.
Fidelis, which could not be reached for comment, purchased the 60-year-old mall from Gateway Washington, Inc. of Los Angeles in a cash transaction, according to the electronic certificate of real estate value on file with the revenue department. A call Friday to the seller was not immediately returned.
The Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal reported that the 446,000-square-foot mall, located on more than 48 acres of land, is about 83 percent occupied. Exterior-facing tenants include Marshalls, Burlington, Michael’s Arts and Crafts, Tuesday Morning, Home Goods, Barnes & Noble Books, Famous Footwear, Cub Foods, Cub Pharmacy and Cub Wine and Spirits. Freestanding outbuildings are occupied by Chick-fil-A, Chianti Grill and D’Amico & Sons, among others.
Constructed in the early 1960s and named after founder Harold J. Slawik and his wife, Marie, Har Mar operates in the shadow of the larger Rosedale Center mall. Har Mar last was sold in 2007 for $47 million.
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You don’t have to be locked into a house you hate forever.
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Washington's Top Commercial Real Estate Brokers – Washingtonian

Washingtonian has partnered with CoStar, the largest commercial real estate information and analytics provider in the country. Below are CoStar’s 2021 Power Broker Awards. The awards recognize the top commercial real estate brokers and firms in the Washington, DC, market, based on closed sale and lease transactions from 2021. CoStar verifies and analyzes total transaction volume to identify the winners.
Brad Benna, Matan Companies
Peter Burleigh, NAI Michael
Stephen Cloud, Transwestern Real Estate Services
Dan Coats, JLL
Caulley Deringer, Transwestern Real Estate Services
John Dettleff, JLL
Bob Gibbs, CBRE
Gary Glatter, Cresa Washington DC
Andrew Hassett, Transwestern Real Estate Services
Jon Lawrence, Cushman & Wakefield
Pete McCabe, The Pruitt Corporation
Daniela Patino, CBRE
Peregrine Roberts, TSC Realty Services
Tony Russo, CBRE
Lance Schwarz, NAI Michael
Top Office Leasing Brokers
Evan Behr, JLL
Wendy Feldman Block, Savills
Henry Chapman, CBRE
Brian Connolly, JLL
David Cornbrooks, Savills
Phil Dickinson, Cushman & Wakefield
Christopher Getz, Cushman & Wakefield
Alexander Hancock, Transwestern Real Estate Services
Neil Levy, Savills
David Lipson, Savills
Brian Raher, Cushman & Wakefield
Danny Sheridan, JLL
Brian Sullivan, JLL
Kevin Terry, GSA/Office of Portfolio Management & Real Estate/DoD CDD
Todd Valentine, Savills

Top Retail Leasing Brokers

Bradley Buslik, H&R Retail
Andrew Corno, JLL
Joseph Farina, Divaris Real Estate
Nora Foley, Rosenthal Properties
Constantine Gogos, Papadopoulos Properties
Emily Heppen, DLC Management Corp.
Thomas Jackman, JLL
Veronica Kamara, KLNB
Jake Levin, KLNB
Brian Mitchell, H&R Retail
Beth Sargent, KLNB
Matt Skalet, KLNB
Lisa Stoddard, CBRE
Shary Thur-Pecaro, Thur & Associates
Erik Ulsaker, Long & Foster Real Estate (Commercial Division)

Top Leasing Firms

Avison Young
CBRE
Cushman & Wakefield
Donohoe
GSA/Office of Portfolio Management & Real Estate/DoD CDD
H&R Retail
JBG Smith Properties
JLL
KLNB
Lincoln Property Company
Newmark
Savills
Tishman Speyer
Transwestern Real Estate Services

Top Sales Brokers

David Baker, JLL
Walter Coker, Berkadia Commercial Mortgage
Brian Crivella, Berkadia Commercial Mortgage
Collins Ege, Eastdil Secured
Christine Espenshade, Newmark
Robert Garrish, Newmark
Robert Jenkins, JLL
Anthony Liberto, Cushman & Wakefield
Timothy McDonald, Eastdil Secured
James Meisel, JLL
David Nachison, Eastdil Secured
Matt Nicholson, JLL
Ryan Reid, Eastdil Secured
Jorge Rosa, Cushman & Wakefield
Andrew Weir, JLL
Drew White, Berkadia Commercial Mortgage

Top Sales Firms

Avison Young
Berkadia Commercial Mortgage
CBRE
Cushman & Wakefield
Eastdil Secured
Greysteel
JLL
Marcus & Millichap
Melnick Real Estate Advisors
NAI Michael
Newmark
Savills
SRS Real Estate Partners
Transwestern Real Estate Services
Walker & Dunlop
 

The New Suburban Office

As a lead broker for both Reston Town Center and downtown Columbia, Transwestern’s Alexander Hancock has an insider’s view of what employers—and their employees—want out of a suburban work experience. The days of generic office parks are, of course, long over. To entice staffers back into an office at all, says Hancock, companies are searching for vibrant environments where people can walk to shopping, lunch, and happy hour, plus access outdoor space during the workday. The proof that Reston and Columbia fit the bill, he says, is in the strong leasing activity that’s continued there even as the office market as a whole has floundered during the pandemic.
Over the past couple of years, Hancock and his team have landed several big-name tenants in Reston Town Center. In summer 2020, Microsoft grabbed 400,000 square feet at the new trophy building 2 Freedom Square. Volkswagen and Fannie Mae have also recently leased large swaths of the glassy towers called Reston Next. Starkist moved its US headquarters to Reston from Pittsburgh this year. Another strategy that the development’s landlord, Boston Properties, deployed during Covid, says Hancock, was to build out “spec suites”—a move-in-ready option ideal for companies looking to downsize to smaller, less expensive space. Hancock says he’s leased 20 of them.
After spying Hancock’s success in Reston, the Howard Hughes Corporation—the company orchestrating downtown Columbia’s massive redevelopment—hired him onto its leasing team, too. Hancock says one major draw for employers in Columbia is obvious: New office space there surrounds Merriweather Post Pavilion. On concert days, workers can hear bands warming up; on any nice day, they can enjoy the park setting.
“Companies are realizing that setting up [in locations like Reston and Columbia] gives them proximity to a large base of highly skilled workers,” says Hancock. “They’re giving them an experience in the office, and also shortening their commute from the suburbs.”
The government’s decision to move the Securities and Exchange Commission from Capitol Hill to a new headquarters in NoMa—valued at more than $1.3 billion and comprising nearly 1.3 million square feet—was far and away the largest lease of 2021. Not only that, but it’s the second-largest deal in the history of the city (behind only the Department of Transportation’s 2007 lease of nearly 1.5 million square feet in Navy Yard).
Brian Sullivan, managing director at JLL, led negotiations for Douglas Development, landlord of the SEC’s future headquarters at New York Avenue and North Capitol Street, Northeast. Neil Levy, David Lipson, and Todd Valentine, all of Savills, teamed up with Kevin Terry of the General Services Administration to represent the government.
Sullivan says he and his client knew it would be a battle to lure the SEC from its existing HQ next to Union Station, particularly to a NoMa location north of New York Avenue, farther afield than office users have traditionally gone. So they enlisted the architecture firms Gensler and HOK to create renderings of what they envisioned for the enormous site (which developer Douglas Jemal had spent nearly 20 years assembling out of individual lots). The glass-filled design included significantly fewer interior offices, meaning workers would have much better access to outdoor views and natural light. “We designed it with a little bit of a ‘wow’ effect, so when the agency saw it they’d be excited,” says Sullivan.
Even so, the deal faced many additional hurdles, including a challenge in federal court from the SEC’s current landlord. But in the end, after years of work, the new lease—which is for 15 years, with an option to extend for another decade—was finalized last September. The SEC is slated to move in 2026.
If you want to know what’s going on with Washington’s restaurant scene, just ask Constantine Gogos. As a longtime broker with the family-run retail-leasing firm Papadopoulos Properties, he’s become one of the first calls for restaurateurs seeking new space. While it may be tough to believe—given the area’s glut of empty storefronts—Gogos will tell you that Chevy Chase is about to become a legit dining destination. “You’re starting to get a changing of the tide,” he says.
In 2021, Gogos handled Common Plate Hospitality’s takeover of the former Anthropologie and P.F. Chang’s in Chevy Chase. The group is turning the combined roughly 10,000 square feet into the Heights Food Hall, which will feature eight food stalls, a speakeasy, and a full-service location of the Mexican restaurant Urbano (which has existing locations in Alexandria and the Mosaic district). Just across Wisconsin Avenue, at the Collection at Chevy Chase, Gogos helped the restaurateurs behind Seven Reasons and Imperfecto secure space for their forthcoming venture, Joy by Seven Reasons, a more casual version of the 14th Street fine-dining destination Seven Reasons. (He also did the Imperfecto deal for them last year.)
A bit farther east, at the Chevy Chase Lake development, Gogos represented the duo behind the beloved Shaw eatery Nina May. The pair will open an all-day seasonal American restaurant called Elena James, with an attached market. And that’s not all: Gogos recently helped them find yet another space—this one’s near Chevy Chase Circle—for a third concept, the details of which are still forthcoming.
He’s been busy with deals inside the city, too, including Lost Generation Brewery, opening soon in Eckington; Mez Mesa, a spot promising “global cuisine” and cocktails near U Street; and a Greek restaurant coming to 19th and N streets in Dupont. All the action in Chevy Chase, however, reflects a trend that Gogos—along with many other brokers—has felt since the onset of the pandemic: The suburbs have gotten hot.
The University of Maryland notched a big recent gain in its ongoing effort to turn College Park into one of the nation’s top college towns, thanks in large part to the work of KLNB’s Matt Skalet. One of the leasing brokers for the Aster—a $140 million mixed-use project near the southern end of campus, slated to open later this year—he has helped attract a range of new businesses that will soon arrive in the neighborhood: Crunch Fitness, Roots Natural Kitchen, and Bandit Taco, to name a few. But the most transformative tenant Skalet has landed is one that promises to draw patrons from both campus and well beyond: the first Trader Joe’s in Prince George’s County. “The goal of the Aster was to activate and energize the south side of campus,” he says. “Trader Joe’s was the ideal tenant.”
Though news of the grocer’s impending arrival was confirmed only in June, Skalet and his team began negotiations back in the spring of 2019—not a particularly easy time, you may recall, to convince retailers to commit to a new location. Despite the raging pandemic, Skalet says his clients (Bozzuto, the University of Maryland’s Terrapin Development, and Willard Retail) were able to make various modifications to the site to meet the requirements of Trader Joe’s, such as increasing the amount of parking allotted to the store. Skalet anticipates that several more retailers will commit to the Aster by the end of this summer and that the development will be 90 percent leased by fall. As for Trader Joe’s, he says the grocer intends to open in time for Thanksgiving.
Marisa M. Kashino joined Washingtonian in 2009 and was a senior editor until 2022.

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Texas has four of the nation’s 10 largest home-start markets – The Real Deal

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(Illustration by The Real Deal with Getty)
Four of the top 10 U.S. markets for housing starts are in the Lone Star State, according to a new ranking from real estate data firm Zonda.
Dallas-Fort Worth ranked number one in the nation,with 54,281 housing starts so far this year, followed by Houston in second place with 42,567. Austin ranked fifth, with 26,993 starts, and San Antonio was seventh, with 23,878.
Of the four big Texas metros, San Antonio had the largest percentage increase year over year, with nearly 26 percent more housing starts than the same period in 2021. Austin had 10.2 percent more starts, and DFW had 8.8 percent more than last year. Houston’s housing starts were barely changed — up a paltry 0.2 percent.
(Zonda)
The pace of growth in home starts in each city other than Houston well outpaces those of similarly hot markets like Southern California, Las Vegas, South Florida, and Nashville, according to the data.
Houston’s low increase is explained by home building almost completely stalling earlier this year due to supply chain shortages.
Homebuilders around Dallas, meanwhile, have been racing to absorb the influ of out-of-state migrants flocking to Texas, as DFW’s northern suburbs have been their top destination. Several developers are entering the build-to-rent market in the Dallas area to accommodate the influx.
But that momentum may not continue as the cooling market has led some Dallas-area homebuilders to pull back on future housing starts. Several of DFW’s northern suburbs have already seen a significant drop in building permits issued this year.
In some parts of North Texas, high-end home sales have already tipped into a buyer’s market.
Houston has also seen its housing market cool in recent months, with sales falling 8.6 percent year over year in June — the third consecutive month of decline. An increasing number of Houston home sellers are starting to cut their asking prices.
Austin, meanwhile, led the nation in homebuilding in May, but in that same month sales fell, as prices hit record highs.


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Despite quickly rising rents, many landlords say they’re struggling – The Seattle Times

Of all the categories driving inflation in recent months, among the largest — and most persistent — is rent.
In buildings with more than 50 units, tenants in one-bedroom apartments have been handed new leases costing about 17% more on average than they did in March 2020, according to CoStar Group, a Seattle-based real estate data company. The Labor Department’s rent indicator — which includes ongoing leases, not just renewals — has steadily risen, to 6.7% last month over the previous August.
So while tenants absorb rent increases that often exceed their income gains, are landlords minting money? It depends on the landlord.
Publicly traded owners of sprawling real estate portfolios, such as Invitation Homes, have enjoyed some of their best returns over the past few quarters. Things look very different, however, for Neal Verma, whose company manages 6,000 apartments in the Houston area.
Earlier this year, Verma experimented with raising rents enough to cover the cost of spiking wages, property taxes, insurance and maintenance. Turnover doubled in the properties where he tried it, as people left for nearby buildings.
“It’s crushing our margins,” Verma said. “Our profits from last year have evaporated, and we’re running at break-even at a number of properties. There’s some people who think landlords must be making money. No. We’ve only gone up 12 to 14%, and our expenses have gone up 30%.”
Overall, the ferocious run-up in rents has been driven by tenants’ desire for more space and location flexibility created by remote work; rising interest rates that have locked would-be buyers out of the for-sale market; and cost increases on delayed maintenance. But the one factor landlords track most closely is their customers’ ability to absorb higher rents.
Higher-earning tenants, who flock to newer buildings with more amenities, have been more willing to accept rent increases. Low-income renters, while seeing faster wage growth, have borne the brunt of higher prices for necessities such as groceries and gasoline, and rents in older buildings are rising at a slower rate than in newer, nicer ones.
“The reality is that rents can only rise as incomes rise,” said Jay Parsons, chief economist at real estate data firm RealPage, noting that rent averages 23% of the monthly incomes across the apartments that RealPage tracks. “If people can’t afford it, you can’t lease it.”
Geography also matters. Even among the largest landlords, those with a presence in Sun Belt cities such as Miami, Tampa, Nashville and Phoenix saw far faster rent growth than high-cost coastal markets such as San Francisco, where rents fell substantially during the pandemic lockdowns as white-collar workers fled for remote locations.
Mid-America Apartment Communities, a publicly traded owner of 101,000 units concentrated in Georgia, Texas, Florida and North Carolina, has benefited from all these trends. Its new tenants make $91,319 on average and are in their mid-30s. In the first half of the year, its new and renewed leases increased 17.1% over their previous rates, driving the largest increase in its dividend per share in decades.
“We feel very good about the opportunity for pricing going forward and still believe now is the time to push rate versus volume,” said Tom Grimes, the company’s chief operating officer, explaining to investors on a quarterly earnings call that he’d rather raise prices than worry about turnover, which remains low. “Demand is good, and our priority is for growing rents.”
It’s harder to track the finances of privately owned real estate portfolios, which can range from a few hundred to a few thousand units — mid-size landlords, in relative terms. But interviews suggest that even if they remain profitable, rising expenses have weighed more heavily on their bottom lines.
Take Swapnil Agarwal, whose Houston-based Nitya Capital has grown swiftly to encompass 20,000 units. He says insurance premiums, payroll costs and maintenance have combined to push his expenses to $7,000 per unit this year from $5,500 in recent years.
“It’s ironic, because our net operating margins have not gone up — actually, they’ve gone down,” Agarwal said. The picture may improve as he renews leases at market rates. “Yes, the rent growth is there,” he said, “but it has to sustain there for a while because of the costs going up.”
Many mid-size landlords are also in the business of acquiring, renovating and building apartments. Rising interest rates have made that much more difficult.
Steve Schwat is a principal at UIP Asset Management, which owns a portfolio of buildings in Washington, D.C., a market that has been resilient to economic cycles but hasn’t seen outsize rent growth after the early days of the pandemic. For him, the costs of financing and construction wipe out the upside of high occupancy rates and rising rents.
“I think this inflationary environment is a more negative to landlords than it is a positive,” Schwat said. “Most landlords would tell you, ‘I really liked 2021.’ Things were coming back, interest rates were low, things seemed to be going relatively easy; 2022 is a (expletive).”
For those operating on an even smaller scale, cost increases can push landlords into the red, at least temporarily.
Early in the pandemic, many small landlords gave their tenants a break on rent. Some put off nonessential repairs, reducing their expenses. The net effect, according to a JPMorgan Chase analysis of its customers’ business checking accounts, was that their account balances stayed approximately level.
But those costs didn’t go away. Fixing appliances and upgrading heating and air-conditioning systems just had to wait until revenues resumed flowing and health concerns abated, making tenants less concerned about having contractors in their homes.
Allison Drescher, the president of an association representing independent landlords in Boston, who also manages an apartment portfolio, polled 29 members of her network last week and found that a majority had not increased rents on average across their properties since the pandemic. Of the third who had, none had done so by more than 10%.
But after the frigid winter, that might change, given the ballooning cost of heating oil. “When you have a cost increase that dramatic, you’re having landlords either pass through the cost of heating or hot water to the tenants, or raising their rent, or selling their property,” Drescher said.
Another dividing line: Landlords concentrated in lower-income housing collected less rent from people who lost jobs during the pandemic, and didn’t always recoup all their losses through the federal Emergency Rental Assistance Program.
Ryan Vienneau has a close-up view of that segment of the market. He and his wife own 11 apartments in and around Saratoga Springs, New York, and manage 300 other units. For their clients a rental assistance case has meant no income for months, and sometimes only a partial reimbursement, if any.
“It was really like roulette,” Vienneau said. “If you just happened to have a tenant in an industry that was working, you were probably fine. But if you happened to have a duplex that’s your only retirement and it just so happens that both of those tenants were waitresses, you have absolutely nothing.”
Across all sizes of landlords, one thing seems certain: Rents won’t rise at this rate for very much longer. While the Commerce Department’s consumer price index is likely to continue to show gains through early 2023, rent increases on new leases have slowed considerably.
That doesn’t mean, however, that rents will return to anything near pre-pandemic levels. In the short term, aside from local efforts to widen rent-control measures, the only factors likely to bring them down markedly are a serious recession and rising unemployment.

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