Friday, May 08, 2009

North Texas Sees Soft Demand, Uncertainty

DALLAS-Though North Texas has been somewhat immune to the recessionary pressures impacting many other parts of the nation, things began to change in late 2008 when the credit crunch impacted the entire nation; and Texas. The uncertainty these days about real estate activity in the Lone Star State prompted the Appraisal Institute's North Texas Chapter to offer its first-ever North Texas Realty Symposium.

The all-day event, scheduled for May 12 at the Hilton Dallas Lincoln Centre, will cover commercial real estate, lending and residential housing trends in North Texas. The symposium, years in the planning, will also examine the state of the local economy.

"Sales volumes are down, though we're seeing a lot of cash buyers," says Jim Underhill, vice president with the Appraisal Institute's north Texas Chapter. "Still, this all translated into a softer demand, plus there tends to be a disconnect between buyers and sellers, and what's being priced." Furthermore, both buyers and sellers are waiting on the sidelines until there is more clarity in the local markets, he adds.

Finding actual values of real estate to price an asset realistically also tends to be a challenge in Texas, because it isn't a full-disclosure state. Though the state's legislature periodically addresses the issue, it has yet to get the idea into a full-fledged bill. Underhill tells GlobeSt.com there are data sources available to find the information, though "most appraisers realize they have to beat the bush, talk to the brokers and find the sales." Nor does he see anything changing any time soon. "Property owners want to keep their taxes low, so they don't want to disclose an actual sales price," he remarks.

Regardless, Underhill says there are definite signs that North Texas is not likely to fare as poorly as other cities that have seen housing prices collapse. He points out that the area never experienced overbuilding or price increases that other parts of the country did. Nor have land prices significantly increased.

Still, with North Texas starting to feel the brunt of a sour economy, Underhill says the timing is right for the symposium. "We hope this can serve as a tool to our members and other real estate professionals, and provide a good understanding as to what's going on in the marketplace," he remarks.