SOURCE: Johnson Development Corp.

June 16, 2008 17:44 ET

Fort Bend County Real Estate Picture Shines

MISSOURI CITY, TX--(Marketwire - June 16, 2008) - Fort Bend County remains a bright spot in the Houston-area housing picture -- itself considered strong by industry experts -- with positive job growth, affordable prices and continued commercial development leading to an expected 9 to 11 percent increase in market values during 2008, according to the Greater Fort Bend Economic Development Council.

According to the council, Fort Bend County real estate statistics showed record new homes sales during 2007, up 2.9 percent (8,774 sales) in 2007, compared with 8,530 sales in 2006. Sienna Plantation, one of the largest master-planned communities in Fort Bend County, reported strong sales in an uncertain 2007 housing market, ranking as the 10th top-selling master-planned community in the nation, according to RCLCO, a leading independent real estate advisory firm.

Fort Bend County housing prices increased in 2007, with the average sales price climbing 4 percent to $222,646 in 2007, compared with a $214,044 average sales price in 2006. Median sales prices also increased, from $175,000 in 2006 to $184,900 in 2007, a 5 percent growth rate.

The positive trend is expected to continue, according to the Houston Association of Realtors (HAR). The association reported that as of January, Fort Bend County housing inventory, compared to sales during the previous 12 months, was at a 4.8-month supply. Historically, said the HAR, anything below 6.5 months indicates a market that can expect better than normal price appreciation.

Houston real estate continues to fare better than the rest the of country on the housing front with prices of single-family homes rising to their highest mark so far this year and new employment figures showing strong, sustainable job growth and a historically low unemployment rate.

HAR also reported that the average price of a single-family home in the Houston real estate market continues to increase, growing by 2 percent in March, compared with the previous 12 months, to $208,105, compared to the national average which fell 7.7 percent. The median price of a single-family home was flat at $151,000, which remains below the national average, reflecting the lower cost of living found in the Houston market.

The final piece of good news on home sales comes from Metrostudy, a national housing tracking and consulting company, which reported that sales of new homes in the Houston area are outpacing construction, meaning a smaller supply of new homes and fewer incentives from builders. This, too, could lead to higher prices in new homes, depending on the spike in demand.

"Houston's fundamentals remain among the strongest in the nation," said David Jarvis, director of Metrostudy's Houston region. "Robust job growth, especially in energy-related industries, has protected Houston from some of the negative effects of the volatile credit markets. Houston is attracting workers from other areas of the U.S. with high-paying jobs, an affordable cost of living and a diverse economy. As potential homebuyers review various markets across the country in search of a bargain, Houston will be a perennial candidate."

According to Metrostudy, Houston added an average of more than 90,000 jobs each year for the past three years ending in March. During the 12 months ending in March, Houston added 80,100 jobs, for a 3.4 percent growth rate -- nearly 10 times the national job growth rate for the same period. Houston added more jobs in the 12 months ending in March than any other Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) in the nation. University of Houston economist Barton Smith said Houston is likely to remain the fastest-growing large urban area in the country at least through the end of the decade, which will mean a further increase in home sales in the area.

While markets in California, Nevada and Florida are expected to have a much longer recovery period, Houston has positioned itself for a much quicker return to normalcy than most parts of the country. With a lower cost of living and more job growth on the horizon, the Houston real estate market will become a destination for many looking to relocate, and thus benefit from many more homes sales in the coming years.

About Sienna Plantation

Sienna Plantation is a comprehensive 7,000-acre master-planned community with a mix of land uses including residential, retail, commercial, civic, recreational, religious, educational and medical, and a variety of housing choices including single-family and multi-family. Homes by the nation’s leading builders are priced from $100,000 to the millions and can be found in distinctive neighborhoods with a wide choice of housing styles. The community, a development of Sienna/Johnson Development, L.P., offers more than 2,000 acres dedicated to park lands, golf courses, recreation areas, lakes, greenbelts and nature reserves. For more information, visit www.siennaplantation.com.

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