Top 10 Deals In Houston Housing

The Top 10 deals in Houston housing in 2014: Real estate game changers — and worries

The Top 10 deals in Houston housing in 2014: Real estate game changers

2014 Spring & Fall Series of "Live at Night" at Waterway Square
The Woodlands will soon have even more company as Houston's real estate epicenter moves north. Courtesy of Woodlands Convention & Visitors Bureau
home sales up, balloons, floating house
The balloon could be about to burst on those ever-rising Houston home prices. InsideTheBeltline.biz
Market Square Tower rendering July 2014
Ambitious development like the Market Square Tower is the order of the day in Houston. Rendering by Jackson & Ryan Architects courtesy of Woodbranch Investments Corp.
2014 Spring & Fall Series of "Live at Night" at Waterway Square
home sales up, balloons, floating house
Market Square Tower rendering July 2014

Home selling hit a record high in 2014. There were a lot of deals, developments and announcements that moved the needle significantly in Houston.

Everyone needs to make note of 2014, especially young Realtors who are just beginning their careers, because it may never be this good again.

Here are the 10 headlines to remember about Houston real estate in 2014:

1. The Woodlands, Part Two. The developer of The Woodlands, the Howard Hughes Corp., bought 2,000 acres for a sequel to Houston’s largest master planned community. The sequel land, where home sales will begin in 2016, is 13 miles north of The Woodlands on the west side of Interstate 45 near League Line Road and the town of Conroe.

 The Exxon Mobil campus, where 10,000 employees will be assigned, has transformed the real estate market in north Houston. 

2. The Houston Association of Realtors, as Houstonians watched the price of oil take a dramatic dive late in the year, came out with a 2015 prediction that is not the typical rosy forecast you might expect from Realtors. HAR, citing Houston economist Ted Jones, said local home sales will be down 10 to 12 percent next year.

Of course, 2014 was exceptionally strong, so even with the decline, sales will still be fairly good in 2015.

3. In downtown, Woodbranch Investments started its Market Square Tower, a 40-story project with 463 residential units. This apartment tower is one a spate of residential projects underway in downtown and should give support to the nearby restaurants, retail and clubs.

Apartment developers have been hyperactive in Houston Inner Loop in recent years and may now be overbuilt.

4. A $43 million mansion, the most expensive residential listing in Houston real estate history, hit the market in September. The 27,000-square-foot behemoth, with eight bedrooms, sits on 2.5 acres in the Memorial area and is the residence of Marie and Ed Bosarge, patrons of the arts. Kellie Geitner of Martha Turner Sotheby’s International Realty secured the listing.

5. Ross Perot Jr.’s Hillwood Communities, in partnership with McGuyer Homebuilders, started developing its first Houston-area master-planned community. The 1,000-acre project, called Pomona, is off of Highway 288 in Manvel, south of Houston.

Hillwood, a major player in land development, describes Pomona as a “relaxed coastal community” with 2,100 homes proposed.

6. Out to the west, Newland Communities is planning Elyson, a 3,619-acre master-planned community near Beckendorff Road and the Grand Parkway. This is part of a new trend in land development enabled by the major $1 billion-plus expansion of the Grand Parkway on Houston’s west and northwest suburbs.

7. The Houston Association of Realtors’ massive website — HAR.com — has expanded to include listings from across Texas. Fittingly, HAR.com, has been rebranded Homes And Realtors, dropping the “Houston”  from its name. The Houston Realtors website is one of a few regional MLS websites to thrive in today’s brutal battlefield of online listings.

 Apartment developers have been hyperactive in Houston Inner Loop in recent years and may now be overbuilt. 

This summer, online listing giant Zillow agreed to pay $3.5 billion to buy Trulia, the nation’s second largest home listing company. Then in September, News Corp, the owner of the Wall Street Journal, agreed to pay $950 million to acquire Move, the operator of the huge Realtor.com site, which is aligned with the National Association of Realtors. The competition in the online listing business is fierce and casualties will be incurred soon.

8. A luxe agency, Sotheby’s International Realty, Inc. acquired Martha Turner Properties, Houston’s second largest realty brokerage. The acquisition enabled Sotheby’s to pop into the Houston market, where it now operates as Martha Turner Sotheby’s International Realty with six offices and more than 220 associates. Martha Turner, founder of the company, continues to be a key player in running the show locally.

9. Randall Davis is planning a downtown condo tower near the House of Blues on Caroline Street. Condo development seems to be gaining momentum in Houston again. Davis is also developing a condo tower on San Felipe, just east of Loop 610.

Then, in the Uptown area, near the Galleria, Davis has the 29-story Astoria condo under construction and Giogio Borlenghi is completing the Belfiore tower.

10. Fein, a Houston-based multifamily firm led by Martin Fein, is starting its second apartment development in Springwoods Village where the Exxon Mobil’s massive new campus is being completed. Fein just finished the 342-unit Belvedere apartments there this summer and it acquired another four acres this fall for a second helping.

The Exxon Mobil campus, where 10,000 employees will be assigned, has transformed the real estate market in north Houston. A veteran in the Houston market, Fein knows a good thing when he sees it and there are dozens of other realty players like him taking advantage of the Exxon Mobil boom in Houston’s northland.

Ralph Bivins, founding editor of Realty News Report, is a past president of the National Association of Real Estate Editors.