Bill Rapp here with the Heartfelt and Hot in Houston Blog, and this is our newest segment: Rental Housing Crisis!

If you’re struggling to make that happen, you are not alone. According to Edison Research, over 62% of renters are concerned about being able to make the rent. Welcome to the newest symptom of the coronavirus: the 2020 Rental Housing Crisis. With over 43 million renters nationwide, the rental market makes up nearly 40% of all housing in the USA, where at least 20 million jobs were lost in April. While out-of-work renters scramble to make their payments, landlords are wondering how to service an avalanche of debt and unpaid taxes. Rental Housing Crisis!

Congress has included relief for homeowners with government-backed mortgages, as part of the $2.2 trillion rescue package that passed in March – but what about the rental marketplace? In Maryland, Governor Mark Hogan has declared a state of emergency due to the coronavirus, effectively stopping all rental evictions and repossessions in his state. But in Arkansas, Ohio, Georgia and 20 other states, there are few protections for renters, according to Bloomberg News.

In Philadelphia, Bloomberg reports that Shane Riggins, age 31, has joined a movement to boycott rent payments. He’s been able to make his payments for April and May, but since losing his job at a local law firm, he’s unsure about what to do next – will he have enough money to weather the storm of this financial crisis? He says, “Every time I pay rent, it’s taken immediately and given to a bank. Is that really, in this crisis, the best use of money?” Unemployment numbers are escalating as workers in the restaurant industry, travel, tourism, retail and other scorched markets are wondering where the rent check is going to come from.

Princeton University has put together a state-by-state scorecard, featuring the number of renters in each state as well as a rating for current housing policies. While many states are slowly reopening the economy, places like Los Angeles County have introduced additional stay-at-home orders. But opening the economy introduces its own set of risks, which go far beyond a few missed payments. Unfortunately, we remain in the dark regarding so many aspects of the coronavirus. Balancing economic concerns with medical guidance is an even bigger challenge than these housing issues. Meanwhile, renters and landlords are getting crushed, with little relief in sight. Rental Housing Crisis!

The inspiration for today’s edition came from this original article:

If you are seriously considering moving right now you need to take action right now and talk to a reputable Real Estate & Mortgage Broker today, please call 281-222-0433 or visit:



Bill Rapp here with the Heartfelt and Hot in Houston Blog, and this is our newest segment: Real Estate Can Rebound!

A little over a month ago, when the coronavirus outbreak was in its infancy, most of us couldn’t have anticipated where we would be today. How quickly things can change…

Over a matter of weeks, as we all seclude and adhere to social distancing, I have seen the U.K.’s mighty and mercurial housing market come to an almost complete standstill–a phenomenon in itself as unprecedented as the circumstances we now face.

Quite the turn of events from the start of the year when multiple people, myself included, predicted that 2020 would be a stellar 12 months not just for the housing market, but for many industries welcoming renewed public confidence and a willingness to spend.

It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster. But like a rollercoaster, there are lows and highs.

During the Great Depression, a number of businesses that made their name are now household icons in the modern day. They achieved this through a readiness to deliver solutions as and when people needed them. Real Estate Can Rebound!

The market is certainly ready for it. In the opening months of 2020, the housing market was quickly gaining momentum as pent-up demand held back by Brexit and the third general election within five years unfolded to reflect a period of much anticipated growth.

At least, according to the latest Nationwide House Price Index, house prices were at some of their highest in March, averaging £219,583 after demonstrating six months of consecutive gains, with 3% annual growth overall. After several years of subdued demand, the market was primed for the good times ahead.

Then along came a virus that sat down inside us and frightened the market away…

A short, sharp shock?

The pace with which life has changed has been extraordinary, and it’s had a corresponding impact on the global economy as businesses and financial markets adapt their survival strategies to ride out the next few months.

It’s a scary time for many businesses, and particularly so for estate agents, who have seen much of their day-to-day capabilities diminish as the housing market is put on ice.

The good news for those fearing a deep and dark recession is that, although this is the fastest market plunge in history, it is not the deepest. That infamy lived and died with the market crash of 1929.

A key difference between the circumstances behind the Great Depression and what’s happening today is that the financial system melted down during the stock market crash. Our contemporary financial instruments have thus far held steady. Add this podcast from the folks at Marketplace to your work-from-home playlist for a better understanding of how the circumstances differ.

On that note, neither is what’s happening today comparable to the 2007-08 Great Recession. Both operate under very different scales of risk, with the financial meltdowns of both the Great Depression and the Great Recession considered as endogenous–as originating from inside the system–by the World Economic Forum.

In contrast, the COVID-19 pandemic is considered as exogenous–as originating from outside the system. These usually come as a surprise and there’s little we can do to anticipate such an event, which can cause huge damage.

Our financial systems are nevertheless usually well versed at absorbing exogenous shocks, as this chart from Rothschild & Co shows (see Growth: major economies), business optimism and economic projections have not descended as yet to the depths reached during the 2007-08 financial crisis.

A cause for optimism would be the coordinated humanitarian responses of many governments worldwide to lockdown their populations and introduce social distancing policies, all to “flatten the curve” of the coronavirus pandemic. The good news for the U.K. is that our efforts appear to be working exceptionally well, as displayed in comparative data from the John Hopkins University.

In China, ground zero of the outbreak, a recovery appears to be in motion, with people returning to work and the wheels of their economic infrastructure starting to turn. It’s an encouraging sign for the U.K.’s road to recovery over the coming months. Real Estate Can Rebound!

Looking at the housing market in particular, the damage thus far has been painful and extensive, but a research outlook from Savills using recent data from Oxford Economics projects that while a short, sharp contraction will see U.K. GDP fall 2.5% in the second quarter of 2020, it will rebound 1.8% in the fourth quarter.

During this time, Oxford Economics predicts that the 0.1% interest base rate will remain until at the earliest fourth quarter of 2021, rising to 1.5% as we near the end of 2024. Conditions that will support growth during the recovery.

The outlook from the financial advisory Rothschild & Co is that this too shall pass, and that the rebound may be as sharp as the downturn if the drop is as such an overreaction to what’s occurred. The key takeaway is that whilst we face an immensely difficult period, the light at the end of the tunnel is brighter and closer than it appears.

Tomorrow belongs to the ready

With a view on that recovery, there is much that estate agents can do to survive this downturn and be ready to thrive when the recovery begins. And more so than at any point in history, we live in a solutions-driven society, where technology has the potential to lead the way.

Yes, the current options are limited during this lockdown. I reviewed just last week the few remaining avenues available for buying and selling during this crisis. Yet there have been some standout glimmers of accomplishment through this ordeal from agencies best able to adapt to the circumstances.

One prime example of this has been through virtual viewings and live walkthrough video tours. Showing that for adaptable agencies there is still business that can be achieved, and more importantly, a means for homeowners or those looking to get on the ladder to consider their options for when life resumes, hopefully within the next few months.

Most of us–barring the exceptional essential workers braving each day on the NHS frontlines and in warehouses, shops and delivery services to keep us all fed and well–are working from home.

For agencies this means shifting resources almost exclusively to digital channels. And in this there are many PropTech (Property Technology) solutions available that can assist both agencies and their clients through this period.

As virtual viewings and live video walkthroughs are still permissible, PropTech solutions such as Focal.Agent and Viewber are readily providing means and advice with which to showcase property for purchase or sale when the housing market reopens in the months ahead.

Furthermore, with a continued online presence and engagement key to developing and nurturing potential business, marketing intelligence and solutions to maintain communication and the flow of valuable information to buyers and sellers is absolutely vital. The services of platforms such as ActivePipe, BriefYourMarket, Dataloft, and TwentyCi could be a boon to future business, and they’re providing some really useful insights on how to engage with clients.

Whilst activity may have slowed significantly at present, when it starts up again agencies that have best positioned themselves front-of-mind of their potential clients will be first in line to assist with their home buying or selling.

Just as occurred during the Great Depression, when certain companies achieved astonishing success, businesses best prepared to deliver useful services during the inevitable bounce-back stand to gain significant growth and success.

In today’s epoch that spotlight shines brightly on companies such as Amazon, which has positioned itself sort of as a new Red Cross–delivering essential goods to people stuck at home during this time of crisis. Where they stand to gain especially is in changing the consumer habits of people who never previously used Amazon.

Humans are creatures of habit and convenience; once they find a better solution, they stick to it. Agencies that are ready to educate, prepare and represent their clients for the inevitable rebound stand to gain the most from the hotpot of pent-up demand.

New beginnings are often disguised as painful endings

Looking at the suddenness and impact of the coronavirus on the housing market, I am reminded most aptly of Newton’s Third Law – for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

The Great Depression and the Great Recession lasted as long as they did because the long-term build-ups to their respective financial crashes compounded the damage and undermined the financial systems’ capability to quickly rebuild.

But this is a very different theatre, and it is my hope and belief that as sharp and painful as this period is, it heralds an equally rapid and restorative period of growth in the years ahead.

The inspiration for today’s edition came from this original article:

If you are seriously considering moving right now you need to take action right now and talk to a reputable Real Estate & Mortgage Broker today, please call 281-222-0433 or visit:



Bill Rapp here with the Heartfelt and Hot in Houston Blog, and this is our newest segment: Harder to get a mortgage?

Mortgage rates have fallen back to recent lows, and though homebuyers aren’t exactly banging on the doors during the spring housing market amid the coronavirus crisis, there are some hardy ones out there in the hunt. And there are still plenty of current homeowners who could save money through a refinance. Unfortunately both types of loans are now harder to get as the mortgage market is badly battered on several fronts due to the impact of the pandemic on the economy and employment.

Mortgage credit availability in March fell to the lowest level in five years, according to a survey by the Mortgage Bankers Association. Lenders cite a large drop in liquidity, as investors in jumbo mortgage-backed bonds pull back. Jumbo loans are those valued above the conforming loan limit of $510,400.

The inspiration for today’s edition came from this original article:

If you are seriously considering moving right now you need to take action right now and talk to a reputable Real Estate & Mortgage Broker today, please call 281-222-0433 or visit:




Bill Rapp here with the Heartfelt and Hot in Houston Blog, and this is our newest segment: Housing Market Update!

Here is the latest housing market update from As expected COVID-19 hit the nation’s housing market hard in April. Last month’s data illustrates the real time impact of coronavirus. According to new listings fell almost 45 percent in April compared to last year. Typically, April is the kick-off to a robust Spring buying season.  The lack of new listings combined with sellers taking homes off the market all contributed to a new April low for inventories. “I see the pace ahead as a slow rebound for the housing market,” George Raitu,’s senior economist. The total number of homes for sale across the U.S. was down 15.3 percent year-over-year. April’s drop in inventory amounted to a loss of 189,000 listings compared to this time last year. “Coronavirus keeps sellers on the sidelines,” explains Raitu. Housing Market Update!

As popular as virtual home tours are for browsing it’s clear most buyers want to see and experience a home in real time. Since traditional showings and open houses remain a thing of the past right now expect to see Days on Market increases around the country.  Additionally, social distancing measures combined with stricter mortgage lending criteria potentially extend the days a property sits on the market. Consider that pending home sales dropped 20.8 percent in April from the prior month. This was the largest monthly drop since 2011.

Home prices in April started showing the impact of COVID-19. Forty-seven of the country’s largest 50 metros saw prices drop. Though those drops weren’t in double-digit territory, it’s not encouraging news. Areas with the sharpest declines were Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas (-5.7 percent); Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Wash. (-4.5 percent); and Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, Ill.-Ind.-Wis. (-4.4 percent) for the Check back soon for more market updates.

The inspiration for today’s edition came from this original article:

If you are seriously considering moving right now you need to take action right now and talk to a reputable Real Estate & Mortgage Broker today, please call 281-222-0433 or visit:



Bill Rapp here with the Heartfelt and Hot in Houston Blog, and this is our newest segment: Mortgage interest rates as-low-as-2.5%

The average interest rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage currently sits at approximately 3.25%, which is just a few basis points off the all-time low set two weeks ago. However, customers of the nation’s second-biggest lender could soon receive an interest rate well below 3%. United Wholesale Mortgage announced Tuesday that it is rolling out a new loan program that offers borrowers an interest rate as low as 2.5% for both purchase mortgages and refinances. UWM is both the nation’s biggest purchase mortgage lender and the largest wholesale lender, meaning it doesn’t lend directly to borrowers. UWM works directly with mortgage brokers, who can in turn offer these low rates to their customers. “Some people said we’d never see interest rates drop below 3% on a 30-year mortgage, but it’s now available when borrowers work with an independent mortgage broker,” UWM President and CEO Mat Ishbia said. “We believe that the housing market is going to be strong and we want to do our part to help more people get into their dream homes as we get through this pandemic together as a nation.” Mortgage interest rates as-low-as-2.5%

Ishbia announced the new lending program in a Facebook Live post, which garnered more than 6,000 viewers as it streamed live. In the video, Ishbia talked about how UWM now expects to see the purchase market “coming back strong” in June, adding that UWM wants to put mortgage brokers in a position to “get more customers than ever before.” According to Ishbia, the new program’s low interest rates are more than a full percentage point lower than what was available to brokers just one day ago. “I’m proud to announce a program that’s going to change the game,” Ishbia said in the video. But Ishbia was quick to caution that the loan program is not available to all borrowers, nor are all borrowers a fit for the program. According to UWM, the sub-3% interest rate will be available on conventional loans, both purchase and rate and term refinances. But the program is not available for cash-out refis. Mortgage interest rates as-low-as-2.5%

Additionally, the program is not available on investment properties. And perhaps most importantly for mortgage brokers, the program is not available to any borrower that has received a loan through UWM in the last 18 months. According to Ishbia, the “Conquest” program is about enabling brokers to go after new customers, even ones that a broker lost to another lender just weeks ago. According to Ishbia, UWM is setting a maximum interest rate lock period of 22 days for this program. And any broker who seeks to extend that lock period will find that to be an expensive proposition. “Brokers that close loans fast are going to dominate,” Ishbia said. “Extensions are going to be very expensive. We’re talking about 10 basis points per day. Relocks are very expensive too. Conquest is not for every loan, but we’re focused on helping you grow your business and dominate.”

According to the company, UWM created the program to “help borrowers with affordability and keep the purchase market strong.” By offering conventional 30-year fixed rates in the 2.5 to 2.99% range, UWM said that it “intends to increase demand for homes and spur a strong purchase season despite the economic impacts of COVID-19 across the country.” Ishbia also noted that other lenders may chase UWM down on mortgage rates, meaning other lenders may push their rates to what UWM is offering or even lower, but Ishbia said that he believes in mortgage brokers and wants them to be as competitive as possible.

On UWM’s website, it lists other “key features” of the new loan program, including:

* Significantly better pricing

* Rates ranging from 2.5%-3.0% including 30-year fixed

* Available on purchases and rate/term refinances

* Conventional only

* Primary and secondary residences

* Borrower must not have closed with UWM within the past 18 months

* Exact Rate and Flex Term available

* Lock anywhere from 8-22 days (UWM average is 11 days sub to CTC)

* Not eligible for ASR rewards or L.O. Partner Points

* No max comp plan — all brokers eligible

“In addition to great rates, best technology and speed, this program is yet another reason why working with an independent mortgage broker makes the most sense,” Ishbia said. “This program allows mortgage brokers to earn new business as the economy begins to return and purchase season takes flight.” Beyond unveiling the new loan program, Ishbia also said UWM will be removing many of its overlays it put in place as the economy sputtered over the last couple months. Mortgage interest rates as-low-as-2.5%

The inspiration for today’s edition came from this original article:

If you are seriously considering moving right now you need to take action right now and talk to a reputable Real Estate & Mortgage Broker today, please call 281-222-0433 or visit:



Bill Rapp here with the Heartfelt and Hot in Houston Blog, and this is our newest segment: Introducing Nexa Mortgage LLC!

I wanted to reach out and let you know about a lender you can count on. When you have a client who needs a quick closing give me a call!

I think I can help grow your business by making sure your clients are happy at closing and obtain a “Stress Free Mortgage.”

Here is a quick little video on why I do what I do: CLICK ME

Here are some of the programs that I have access to:

  1. FHA/VA – Scores as Low as 500 are eligible!
  2. Mobile Home Financing – Single Wide and Double Wide!
  3. Down Payment Assistance Programs!
  4. FHA/VA/USDA/Conventional One Time Close Construction!
  5. FHA 203K & Fannie Mae Home Style – Renovation Lending!
  6. JUMBO Financing
  7. Doctor & Dentist Lending Program
  8. Foreign National Loan Program
  9. Commercial Mortgage Products & Private Money for Fix and Flips

You can also call me on my cell phone after hours if you need to 281-222-0433. Introducing Nexa Mortgage LLC!

If you are seriously considering moving right now you need to take action right now and talk to a reputable Real Estate & Mortgage Broker today, please call 281-222-0433 or visit:



Bill Rapp here with the Heartfelt and Hot in Houston Blog, and this is our newest segment: Real Estate Investments For-Diversifying!

The incredible stock market volatility we’ve seen of late is an important reminder that, when you invest in stocks and mutual funds, you risk seeing a significant decrease in your wealth overnight. If you’re not comfortable with this reality, you could consider augmenting your portfolio with real estate investments.

When considering the multitude of commercial and residential real estate investments you could make, it’s helpful to evaluate each based on two criteria: income potential and value growth potential. Loosely defined, income potential is the amount of cash flow you’ll see from the investment on a monthly or annual basis, and growth potential the amount that the real estate asset you’re holding could increase in value over time. For those looking to augment a portfolio, here are three possible real estate investments to consider. Real Estate Investments For-Diversifying!

Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs)

REITs are companies that own a variety of residential or commercial real estate assets. As you begin to research REITs, you’ll see there are quite a few different types, from equity REITs, which own residential or commercial properties, to mortgage REITs, which either lend money to homeowners themselves or own mortgage-backed securities.

Much like you can buy shares of Apple, you can also buy shares of REITs on stock exchanges. Buying a REIT has significant value growth potential in the long term, but trading REITs to generate short-term cash flow comes with similar risks that you’ll find with trading stocks.

This helpful article I recently read about REITs offers much of the detail about why you should at least consider augmenting your portfolio with this investment vehicle. I’d also add that there are some opportunities worth considering in the REIT market right now, particularly as REITs that own residential mortgages went down in value significantly in March.

Private Commercial Real Estate Investments

In recent years, private commercial real estate investments have come onto the map. Similar to REITs, these investments have significant potential for value growth over time, but are not designed for short-term buying and selling that could generate cash flow.

While the current pandemic is having a significant impact on the commercial real estate industry at the moment, it’s worth noting that private commercial real estate’s average return over a 25-year period is 9.4%, according to the National Council of Real Estate Investment Fiduciaries.

Investment Properties

I’ve written extensively about building wealth through income properties. Here, I’ll just add that with mortgage rates continuing to hover around all-time lows, owning a rental property will continue to be an attractive investment in many U.S. cities.

Income properties generate cash flow from renters, as well as value growth as the property’s worth increases over time. I’ve been a landlord for over a decade in Boston, and I can say from personal experience that this double bottom line provides landlords with unparalleled investment stability. And while there’s a lot that goes into maximizing investment property returns, the time and effort spent is more than worthwhile.

If you’re already planning to move this spring and you have equity in your current home, you might consider turning the home you’re moving out of into an investment property instead of selling it. You may find that you’re able to refinance your home to afford the down payment on the home you’d like to move into, and begin renting it shortly after you move out.

If owning a second property isn’t in the cards, I often encourage hopeful investors to consider putting an addition on the current house or finishing the basement and treating it as an investment property. This type of renovation would certainly add value to your home while generating cash flow through long-term renters or shorter-term vacationing guests.

The current economic climate offers an important reminder that putting all of your investing eggs in one basket can result in a bumpy ride. If you diversify your investments across stocks, bonds and mutual funds plus commercial or residential real estate, you’ll put yourself in a better position to weather the bear markets and build wealth more predictably. Real Estate Investments For-Diversifying!

The inspiration for today’s edition came from this original article:

If you are seriously considering moving right now you need to take action right now and talk to a reputable Real Estate & Mortgage Broker today, please call 281-222-0433 or visit:



Bill Rapp here with the Heartfelt and Hot in Houston Blog, and this is our newest segment: Record Low Mortgage Rates!

The average 30-year fixed rate for a conforming loan fell to a record-low 3.47% last week, the Mortgage Bankers Association said Wednesday. U.S. mortgage rates tumbled to the lowest on record last week after the Federal Reserve slashed its key lending rate and pledged to pump billions into the mortgage bond market to support liquidity. The Mortgage Bankers Association said 30-year fixed rates fell 35 basis points in the week ending March 27 to 3.47%, matching the lowest on record that was recorded three weeks ago, and in early 2012. Record Low Mortgage Rates!

The group’s refinancing index, meanwhile, jumped 25.5% to 4,781.1 points, although new purchase activity slumped around 10% as the job market contracted and data began to illustrate the depth of the coronavirus damage to the U.S. economy. “Mortgage rates and applications continue to experience significant volatility from the economic and financial market uncertainty caused by the coronavirus crisis,” said Joel Kan, the MBA’s associate vice president of economic and industry forecasting. “After two weeks of sizeable increases, mortgage rates dropped back to the lowest level in MBA’s survey, which in turn led to a 25 percent jump in refinance applications.”

“The bleaker economic outlook, along with the first wave of realized job losses reported in last week’s unemployment claims numbers, likely caused potential homebuyers to pull back,” he added. “Purchase applications were down over 10 percent, and after double-digit annual growth to start 2020, activity has fallen off last year’s pace for two straight weeks.” Mortgage applications increased 15.3% from the previous week, the MBA said, while its purchase index fell 24% from last year as buyers stayed home amid coronavirus lockdowns around the country.
Last month, the Fed said it would buy unlimited amounts of Treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities (MBS) “to support smooth market functioning” amid the coronavirus pandemic and historic selling on Wall Street. Record Low Mortgage Rates!

The Fed began buying up to $40 billion of agency MBS, issued by Ginnie Mae (the National Mortgage Association), Freddie Mac (the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation and Fannie Mae (the Federal National Mortgage Association), which make up around two-thirds of the overall mortgage market. Record Low Mortgage Rates!

The inspiration for today’s edition came from this original article:

If you are seriously considering moving right now you need to take action right now and talk to a reputable Real Estate & Mortgage Broker today, please call 281-222-0433 or visit:


Bill Rapp here with the Heartfelt and Hot in Houston Blog, and this is our newest segment: Unemployment Claims Affect Housing-Market!

As businesses across the United States have been mandated to close their doors in a desperate effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, people have been losing their jobs left and right. Now, we’re seeing the first unemployment report since the first “shelter in place” orders, and it’s far more grim than anyone had expected.

A record 3.28 million Americans filed for unemployment support in the week ending March 21—the most claims ever filed in a single week. “Normally, when an economy goes into a recession it develops slowly over time,” says® Chief Economist Danielle Hale. “That’s not happening this time around. … It’s pretty clear that the economy is grinding to a halt pretty suddenly.” Unemployment Claims Affect Housing-Market!

It will also be a tough blow to the already wobbly housing market, since those who lost their jobs are not likely to be buying a home anytime soon. Even the millions of Americans who haven’t been laid off or lost work yet are likely to hold off on a major purchase, fearing for the stability of their employment. And while ultrawealthy buyers may be insulated from the downturn, they may still balk at plunking down millions of dollars on a property they can’t even walk through. In response to this lack of demand, many sellers will likely pull their properties off the market until the crisis passes. However, folks shouldn’t expect home prices to plunge by the double digits as they did during and after the Great Recession. In the last downturn, there were many more properties for sale, due to an overabundance of construction and mass foreclosures, than there were qualified buyers.

This time around, there is a severe shortage of housing for sale. Builders haven’t been putting up enough homes to meet demand for years. And there isn’t likely to be a huge wave of foreclosures because borrowers are in better financial shape. Plus, the federal and many state governments, along with some banks, are rolling out forbearance and other programs to help Americans who’ve lost their jobs stay in their homes. This is all likely to stabilize prices. “Price growth will slow, and it’s possible that prices could decline” in certain markets, says Hale. “Folks expecting price declines to happen like they did during the last recession are going to be disappointed.” The hardest-hit areas will likely be those with the highest percentage of jobs in tourism, leisure, and hospitality, the industries most affected by the novel coronavirus. But even in these areas, Hale doesn’t expect prices to go down more than 5%.

However, sales will slow down as there are simply fewer buyers and sellers in the market. Plus, it’s harder to transact remotely. “We will see a shocking drop-off in home sales in a very short period of time,” says Hale. They’re likely to rebound when the virus is under control, but there will almost definitely be fewer sales this year than anticipated before the pandemic.

“We don’t know when things will get back to normal,” she continues. “But when they do … we might also see a really strong bounce back.” But Americans should expect things to get worse before they get better. Jobless claims will likely remain high until the crisis abates—and that timeline is still unclear. But the federal stimulus package expected to pass, which includes $1,200 checks to most Americans, could help to steady the markets. “All the incoming data will also be off the chart for a few months,” Lawrence Yun, chief economist of the National Association of Realtors®, said in a statement. “The key is whether the stimulus package can reverse all these damages by the second half of the year.” Unemployment Claims Affect Housing-Market!

The inspiration for today’s edition came from this original article:

If you are seriously considering moving right now you need to take action right now and talk to a reputable Real Estate & Mortgage Broker today, please call 281-222-0433 or visit:




Bill Rapp here with the Heartfelt and Hot in Houston Blog, and this is our newest segment: Texas Border Economy!

Following increased population growth in 2019, the border communities ramped up hiring in February as joblessness remained relatively low. Average real hourly wages, however, continued to struggle. Housing sales took a step back but maintained a strong upward trend after surging almost 7 percent in January. Inventories tightened amid healthy demand, pushing median home prices to record highs in all of the border metros (except Laredo) and straining affordability. Total trade values accelerated after the ratification of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) by all three nations, but the global coronavirus outbreak will undoubtedly have adverse effects on commerce along with many other aspects of the local communities. Preliminary impacts may be present in March data, but the severity of the impact is yet to be determined. The border is expected to be one of the hardest hit areas in Texas, possibly surpassed only by the state’s oil-producing regions. Texas Border Economy!


Economic activity along the border picked up in February according to the Dallas Fed’s Business-Cycle Indices. Payroll expansions and real wage improvement in Brownsville pulled the index up 3 percent on a seasonally adjusted annualized rate (SAAR), while El Paso’s metric stabilized at a pace of 4.5 percent. The McAllen index improved for the first time in ten months, rising 1.4 percent. Laredo’s metric extended a downward trajectory, falling 1.9 percent, although the decline moderated. While recently released 2019 data revealed the border’s resident population accelerated half a percent, growth remained modest compared with 3 percent statewide. The population expansion largely resulted from natural increase (the difference between births and deaths), with negative net domestic migration reported in all four border metros as economic opportunities multiplied in larger Texas cities. International net migration was positive in all but McAllen, but the rate of change declined throughout the border region amid more stringent federal immigration policies.

Border nonfarm employment accelerated 1.8 percent SAAR in February, adding 2,100 jobs on top of upward revisions to January numbers. Both El Paso and McAllen employment increased 1.9 percent SAAR, although hiring in the latter showed signs of slowing. McAllen’s education/health services extended a strong upward trend while government employment corrected for losses to start the year. However, employment in the goods-producing and transportation/utilities sectors contracted. In El Paso, retail trade and professional/business services led growth in the metro. Brownsville payrolls expanded 1.6 percent as the retail industry gained 500 jobs, recovering half the layoffs incurred during 2019. Additionally, education/health services recorded its 13th consecutive improvement. The same sector, along with professional/business services, contributed to overall job growth of 1.5 percent in Laredo.

On the Mexican side of the border, manufacturing and maquiladora employment1 gained 1,400 new employees, tipping into positive SAAR growth territory at 1.4 percent for the first time in five months. Chihuahua and Matamoros accounted for most of the hiring with maquiladora employment increasing 1.9 and 1.1 percent, respectively. Juarez and Nuevo Laredo posted modest gains to start the year, marking the third straight payroll expansion for both locales. However, additional hiring is needed to recover from net contractions in 2019. Reynosa employment also ended the year negative, but meager job growth perpetuated the downward trend. U.S. manufacturing production flattened in February and is expected to plummet in the upcoming months as supply-chains are disrupted by reduced manufacturing worldwide. An additional obstacle to maquiladora employment is the spread of COVID-19 in Mexico, at least in part due to the weak response to the pandemic by the Mexican government.

Unemployment rates in the border metros were mostly unchanged. Joblessness in both El Paso and Laredo hovered at 3.8 percent, while the McAllen metric stabilized at 6.4 percent. Only Brownsville’s unemployment rate increased, ticking up to 5.7 percent.

As joblessness rose in Brownsville, the metro’s average real private hourly earnings improved half a percent year over year (YOY). On the other hand, El Paso’s real wages declined 4.3 percent, while Laredo and McAllen earnings fell for the second straight month, dropping 1.2 and 2.6 percent, respectively, after increasing every month in 2019.

Total construction values rebounded 10.1 percent following a sluggish prior three months but remained below the 2019 average. Most of the growth was attributable to the nonresidential sector, specifically school construction in El Paso. Activity, however, has slowed since peaking mid-2019. On the residential side, decreased single-family values offset improvements in multifamily construction. Single-family activity in Laredo rose but was overshadowed by falling McAllen and El Paso values. In El Paso, apartment construction increased but extended a steep downward trend, while McAllen’s two-family sector picked back up after record levels in 4Q2019.

In the currency market, the peso per dollar exchange rate steadied at 18.84 after the inflation-adjusted rate2 ticked down for the second straight month. Total trade values passing through the border jumped 1.9 percent as imports to El Paso and Laredo accelerated after stumbling to start the year. Vehicular-related products comprised most of the increase. Border export values mostly flattened except for in Brownsville, where machinery-related shipments corrected downward after surging in January. The port of Laredo’s nonseasonally adjusted total trade value exceeded that of the port of Los Angeles to become the top port in the U.S.; after adjusting for seasonality, however, Los Angeles values proved greater. The ratification of the USMCA by all three countries involved should reaffirm North American trade relationships, but supply-chain disruptions and decreased automobile demand stemming from the global coronavirus pandemic will challenge trade in 2020. Texas Border Economy!


Although border housing sales fell 2.1 percent in February, the trend maintained a strong upward trajectory after data revisions revealed monthly sales climbed nearly 7 percent the prior month. Laredo sales continued to normalize after surging in 4Q2018 and 1Q2019, declining 1.6 percent. In El Paso, reduced sales for homes priced less than $200,000 offset improvements in higher-priced cohorts, resulting in a 6.9 percent decrease. McAllen sales dropped 8.7 percent in contrast to its Rio Grande counterpart, which posted its third consecutive increase, rising 7 percent. Most of the growth in Brownsville was attributable to homes priced between $100,000 and $300,000.

Following a strong start to the year, single-family housing construction permits sank 4.1 percent as issuance in the Rio Grande Valley drew back. Brownsville permits corrected downward 16.6 percent after posting triple-digit permits in January for the first time in more than five years, while activity in McAllen continued to normalize from an all-time high in June 2019. On the other hand, both El Paso and Laredo permits rose around 2 percent each. Private single-family construction values exhibited trends similar to permitting except in El Paso, where the metric extended a four-month downturn.

Ongoing decreases in the supply of active listings pulled months of inventory (MOI) down to historical lows almost unanimously along the border. Inventory in the Rio Grande Valley fell to 5.8 months, while El Paso’s MOI inched down to 2.8 months. On the other hand, Laredo’s metric set a new record high of 8.1 months.

Housing demand in Laredo remained healthy as indicated by the average number of days on market (DOM), which stabilized at 56 days. The El Paso DOM shed three weeks off its year ago level, decreasing to 65 days. The drop, however, showed signs of slowing. McAllen’s metric continued its steady decline, sinking to 78 days. The average home in Brownsville, however, stayed on the market for 111 days, slightly longer relative to last February.

Brownsville’s median home price posted a record-breaking $183,600 after modest growth to start the year. McAllen’s median price also surged following YOY growth that was less than the 2019 average, rising to $172,900. In El Paso, the metric increased steadily to $172,000. Laredo’s median price flattened YOY to $175,900, remaining below the metro’s all-time high of $184,800 amid expanding inventory. Moderate home-price appreciation is essential to maintain affordability, one of the border’s main attractions, in an environment of low wage growth.

Although February data revealed overall positive economic growth, the events of the past few weeks and expectations for the next several months will exacerbate the weak points in the local communities. Industries with great downside risk due to the coronavirus include the border’s trade and manufacturing sectors, which are strongly connected with Mexico, where 2019 annual GDP was dismal and forecasts for 2020 growth are solidly negative. Moreover, early projections for the first quarter of the year have been drastically revised from a modest increase to a severe decline in national GDP growth. The first quarter is practically over, so the statistical impact will not be nearly as severe as what the second and third quarter growth rates will be. We are headed into, if not already in, a recession on the national, state, and local levels. The depth and duration of decline are anyone’s guesses.

The inspiration for today’s edition came from this original article:

If you are seriously considering moving right now you need to take action right now and talk to a reputable Real Estate & Mortgage Broker today, please call 281-222-0433 or visit: