On the move: What does new year hold for Houston real estate, relocation?
It has been a roller coaster ride for the City of Houston this year, especially over the past four months. From the flood waters of Hurricane Harvey, to the celebration of the Houston Astros as the winners of the World Series, Houston has certainly seen its share of highs and lows.
So, as we hurdle toward the finish line of 2017, it's a good time to reflect on where we have been, and look forward to the year ahead.
From a real estate and relocation standpoint, I asked a couple of industry leaders to weigh in on how they think the local market fared in the end, and what that means for people who will be moving to Houston in the coming months.
Anne Incorvia is executive vice president of John Daugherty, Realtors, and Ed Wolff is president of Beth Wolff Realtors Real Living. Here is what they had to say:
MS: People have described the Houston relocation landscape as a bit flat this year. Would you agree, and if so, what precipitated that?
AI: "Houston has always been a top city for relocation year after year. This past year, the relocation landscape was not as robust as it has been in previous years. I don't think there is one main culprit, but there were various reasons, including: the loss of equity that individuals sustained during the downturn in the housing market, the higher cost of transferring employees, and the amount of talent that wants to relocate, and shortage of home inventory."
EW: "I think corporate relocation in Houston is very oil-dependent, and the previous years were very robust. This last year has honestly been more like the years prior to the higher oil prices, or basically more normal than the previous three to four years."
MS: Do you expect more of the same in terms of relocation activity in Houston in 2018, or in what ways do you expect it to be different?
AI: "I believe Houston will see an increase in relocation activity in 2018, and that it will be stronger than in 2017. There have been several companies that have announced that they will be relocating their entire company to Houston, as well as some that have announced additional offices that will be moving into the Houston area in 2018."
EW: "It will be interesting to analyze the effect of the new tax bill on corporate relocation. There are a lot of tax benefits that may change the landscape of traditional third-party relocation. This won't change the number of people being transferred, but it may change the way that the business is distributed.
"I see the business remaining steady for both inbound and outbound relocation, and that we will still see the typical moves. The major group moves though, do not seem to be happening."
MS: What was the ultimate impact of Hurricane Harvey as it relates to the resilience of the Houston market and the people who live here? And, what does that say about the strength of the local market for the people who will be moving here in early 2018?
AI: "The resilience of Houston and its people was evident during and after Hurricane Harvey. Harvey was a true devastation to this city, but Houstonians would not allow it to define us. Houston has proven that it is a strong and resilient city. We had a decrease in the real estate market of 25 percent because of Harvey, and within a two-month period we have already had a gain of over 3 percent.
"Houston housing costs are still 21 percent below the major metro average, which makes our housing affordable. Houston offers a low cost of living, while maintaining a high quality of life, with the amenities expected in a world-class city."
EW: "The hurricane has not really had an impact on relocation activity, except that it has caused a shortage in available homes. Buyers don't seem overly concerned about this. Meanwhile, some sellers have been able to take advantage of having more people in the market looking for homes this time of year.
"Houston has shown that even with Hurricane Harvey, and oil prices that were below $50 a barrel, that the market is still performing at record prices, and that the inventory level has remained below six months, which is typically a seller's market.
"We continue to see strong markets, with some exceptions where people have to sell their homes in areas where they are in direct competition with new construction."
Michelle Sandlin is an award-winning writer, journalist and global mobility industry expert. Her work is frequently featured in Worldwide ERC's Mobility magazine, and in various business and industry related publications and corporate blogs. Follow her on Facebook: www.facebook.com/TheMichelleSandlin and on Twitter: @MichelleSandlin. Also visit "On the Move" at blog.chron.com/onthemove.