Askins Online Real Estate Blog

View Housing TrendsFollow Me@ My ProfileYouTube Channel

Askins Online Real Estate - From Tweets to Trends
        EMAIL ME        4740 Ingersoll # 107, Houston, TX 77027     Phone: (713) 942-9200     Fax: (713) 864-5423
I'm John Askins of Royce Realty in Houston, or text me directly at (832) on my blog I'll keep you updated on the latest trends and info about our local and state real estate market. Member - HAR Technology Advisory Group

Disputed responsibility for repairs in a Dallas subdivision has a family with three youngsters stepping carefully around its home.

After heavy rains last May, Fisco homeowner Brian Woodward saw early signs of erosion and alerted his HOA, the Lone Star Ranch Homeowners Association. Further rains in early December prompted another collapse, and on Dec. 29 the slope failure reached the home's fence line.

Shaddock Developers Ltd. owns the six acres of common area that includes the pond and area around it, but Lone Star Ranch has handled maintenance on the land for years, according to the Dallas Morning News.

Lone Star Ranch issued a statement explaining that it has investigated the collapse and pursued repairs since the original May slope failure. "However, since the property was owned by Shaddock Developers Ltd., not the HOA, the city would not issue a permit to the HOA to perform any repairs to the property," according to the statement.

A spokesperson for the development company says that common areas are supposed to be deeded to the HOA once the subdivision is built, but here that didn't happen. Paperwork has recently been submitted with Denton County to deed the common areas to the HOA.

While Frisco’s code enforcement division issued a notice of violation to Shaddock Developers on Dec. 30 with a Jan. 15 deadline, nothing has happened, says Woodward.

City officials said last week that they are working to get the parties to meet to arrive at a solution. Statements from both the developer and the HOA sympathize with Woodward but stop short of committing to pay for repairs.

source:  Dallas Morning News


If you work in real estate, you've chosen one of the happiest careers, according to a new survey of more than 60,000 employees from 13 different industries.

Real estate ranked number 2, behind consumer products and services, in TINYpulse’s “2016 Best Industry Rankings” survey, which studied employee engagement and satisfaction across 13 industries.

TINYpulse’s study found three themes emerging among this year’s most satisfied workers:

  1. “Culture is key”: Happy employees tend to boast about having great teammates and management that displays transparency.
  2. “It’s not where they start; it’s where they finish”: Employees need to feel like they have a place for advancement.
  3. “Employees want to have a say”: Employees want to feel like their company values feedback and take it seriously.

Here’s how the 13 industries analyzed stacked up against one another, ranked from happiest to least happy.

  1. Consumer Products & Services
  2. Real Estate
  3. Technology & Software
  4. Hospitality
  5. Finance & Insurance
  6. Arts & Entertainment
  7. Construction & Facilities Services
  8. Education
  9. Healthcare, Pharma & Biotech
  10. Professional Services & Consulting
  11. Manufacturing
  12. Government & Nonprofit
  13. Energy, Mining & Utilities

source:  TINYpulse


More baby boomers are planning a move, and they're targeting cities with a lower cost of living, greater job potential, and warmer weather, according to research by the National Association of REALTORS®.

"A broadly improving economy and rebounding home prices are giving baby boomers the opportunity to sell and move to support their retirement lifestyle," says Lawrence Yun, NAR's chief economist. "Furthermore, our research identified cities movers are gravitating to while still remaining in the workforce as a business owner."

According to an NAR generational study, baby boomers represent 30 percent of all buyers. Their home purchases average about $210,000.

For its most recent research, NAR analyzed population trends, housing affordability, and local economic conditions, among other trends, in 100 metro areas to determine the housing markets baby boomers are most likely to gravitate toward.

NAR singled out Boise, Idaho, and Raleigh, N.C., as top standouts for baby boomers, mostly because of their solid job growth, share of self-employed workers, and affordable home prices. Yun also notes that Florida and Arizona cities are attracting many baby boomers.

NAR identified the following markets as the most likely to see an influx of baby boomers moving there in the coming years (listed alphabetically):

  • Albuquerque, N.M.
  • Boise, Idaho
  • Denver
  • Fort Myers, Fla.
  • Greenville, S.C.
  • Orlando, Fla.
  • Phoenix
  • Raleigh, N.C.
  • Sarasota, Fla.
  • Tucson, Ariz.

Additional markets NAR identified as having "strong potential for attracting" baby boomers include:

  • Chattanooga, Tenn.
  • Dallas
  • McAllen, Texas
  • Riverside, Calif.
  • Tampa, Fla.

"These metro areas are attractive to baby boomers because of their housing affordability, lower tax rates, and welcoming business environment," Yun says. "With baby boomers working later in life, these factors will likely play as much of a deciding role of where boomers eventually retire as will areas with a warm climate or variety of outdoor activities."

source:  National Association of REALTORS®


The winter temperatures can take a toll on your smartphone — even causing it to temporarily freeze and shut off. 

Smartphone manufacturers have warned in the past about how phones can overheat on hot days, and now they’re also warning that phones can freeze on a cold day, too. In extreme temperatures — say, minus 10 degrees or lower — the phone can shut off. Even pressing the power button a few times may result in nothing but a blank screen. 

However, your phone most likely isn’t completely dead. Usually, the phones will come back on when they’re brought inside and have a chance to warm up, The New York Times reports. 

Popular Mechanics recently tested how well cell phones could withstand the cold. 

“We found, in general, that when you reach about minus 10 degrees, some screens start to dim and went immediately to low battery,” says Seth Porges, a technology writer who oversaw the Popular Mechanics study. “At minus 20, several [cell phone] models shut off, and at minus 30, almost every device suffered severe battery and screen problems and was almost inoperable.” 

Phones that were subjected to temperatures of minus 40 or minus 55 went dead, the study found. 

Popular Mechanics, however, did find the phones returned to normal after the temperatures got warmer. 

On Apple’s website, the company suggests using the iPhone only in temperatures from 32 degrees to 95 degrees Fahrenheit. The company warns that lower temperatures can temporarily shorten the phone’s battery life.

source:  New York Times


As new-home builders seek new buyers, the list of features for 2016 construction includes materials and features that increase energy efficiency and generous spaces for both living and storage. The National Association of Home Builders recently surveyed builders to find out the top features they were planning to put in new single-family homes this year.

The following are the features most builders are bringing to new single-family homes in 2016:

  • Walk-in closet in master bedroom
  • Laundry room
  • Great room (kitchen–family room–living room)
  • Low-emissivity windows
  • Energy Star–rated appliances
  • Programmable thermostat
  • 9'-plus first-floor ceiling
  • Central island in kitchen
  • Granite countertop in kitchen
  • Energy Star–rated windows

These features are least likely to appear in new homes this year, builders say:

  • Cork flooring in the living areas of the main level
  • Pet washing station
  • Laminate countertops in the kitchen
  • Outdoor kitchen (cooking, refrigeration, and sink)
  • Outdoor fireplace
  • Sunroom
  • Two-story family room
  • Two-story foyer
  • Media room

source:  National Association of Home Builders 


As baby boomers reach retirement age, accessibility has become a popular buzzword in home design. As such, master suites on the main floor are a growing trend in new-home construction. BUILDER online recently took a look at whether that trend will stick around.

Laura Segers, vice president of sales operations at Frank Betz Associates, believes the main floor master suite has some staying power. Frank Betz Associates’ data of its top 100 floorplans shows a slight increase in the number of two-story designs with the master suite upstairs from 2013 to 2014 (14 percent vs. 15 percent, respectively) but its number of one-story floorplans rose by two percentage points. The majority of its best-selling floorplans feature accessible master suites that have no steps to enter, Segers says.

“I seem to remember this type of design appearing in the mid to late 1980’s and it has been continually growing in popularity ever since,” Russell “Rusty” Moody, president of Frank Betz Associates, told BUILDER Online. “Our in-house sales statistics prove the trend is real and here to stay- of the current top 20 best-selling designs at Frank Betz Associates, Inc. [from the last two years] 17 are one story or master-on the-main plans.”

Moody’s Analytics also suggests this design trend has staying power, given the aging population needs for accessibility; home owners’ greater desires for privacy; multigenerational demand; and demand from the second home/resort home market that tend to prefer main-level master bedrooms so they do not need to heat or cool the upper levels until guests arrive.

source:  BUILDER Online


Model homes are designed to give buyers the allusion of perfection. Mary Cook, an interior designer with Mary Cook & Associates, has built her business around "merchandising" model homes for builders nationwide, and she says sellers could learn from tricks of model merchandisers in preparing their own home for sale.

Here are a few tips she recently shared with the Chicago Tribune.

1. First impressions count. “I'd put the effort right into what they see when they walk through the door,” Cook says. “If you ‘capture’ them and elevate their mood right away, it will carry the house better than if you had to earn their ‘uplifted emotions’ later on in other rooms of the house.”

2. Make sure scale and proportion fit. Cook says many sellers struggle with high ceilings in McMansions and what to do with those two-story walls. “They say, do I hang pictures at 14 feet? They're hesitant to go out and buy a big, monster piece of art, but if a professional designer would see that you've done that, they'd say it's perfect, and you're done,” Cook says. “If you have a whole bunch of little things, putting them in a group together on the wall can have the same effect, though there's an art to grouping them.”

3. Use color to enhance. Staying in safety neutral color zone, she says, isn’t always going to work, but be careful in the color you choose because it can have a big effect on buyers. “I remember years ago we did a model home where we painted the walls a banana yellow, and it wasn't received well at all,” Cook says. “Older people would catch a glimpse of themselves in the mirror, and it was harsh; they just didn't look good. We changed it to a peachy color, and people seemed to feel better in there. It goes back to elevating the buyer's mood."

4. Stand out. “Presume that the buyer has three houses lined up, and they're all at the right price,” Cook says. “You have to identify all the reasons why somebody would possibly want to live there and what makes your place different.” For example, she’ll often have a basket on the countertop filled with a collection of dining brochures, maps, fitness center brochures, activity calendars from the park district, nearby restaurant menus, local hospital information, and information on the local schools--any information that highlights the benefits of living there.

source:  Chicago Tribune 


Vibrant colors are still in this spring. 

Home owners jazzing up their properties should consider switching out beige neutrals on the walls for cool grey hues and pale pastels. For a more fresh, modern look, complement rooms with bold-colored furnishings and warm metals.

Blush tones paired with masculine hues also are in style. Lighter wood is gaining popularity for furniture, countertops, and flooring, as it hides dents and scratches and complements soft natured paint colors.

Trusted trendsetter, Pantone, has chosen Radiant Orchid, described as an enchanting harmony of fuchsia, purple and pink undertones." as its 2015 "Color of the Year." 

 Along with purple, pale pink is also making a comeback. Popular 1980's blush-tones can be modernized this season by pairing them with masculine hues. It's true when they say trends come back full circle, but don't fret- the rest of 80's style is not making its comeback! 

Meanwhile, silver or steel hardware, fixtures, furniture, and decor are increasingly being replaced by gold. Personalization is also happening in the kitchen, with custom painted cabinetry; and more home owners are avoiding granite in favor of more resilient synthetic materials.

source:  Realty Times


Home prices may have been on the rise the last few years, but homes are still more affordable now than they were in the pre-bubble years, according to the latest Mortgage Monitor Report released by Black Knight Financial Services.

Households are using 21 percent of the national median income to pay a mortgage on a median-priced home. In 2000-2002, the average payment-to-income ratio was 26 percent, and in 2006, it was 33 percent.

However, Black Knight’s report warns that if home prices continue to increase – as they have year-over-year for 43 consecutive months – the affordability picture in home ownership could start to change in two years.

Black Knight factored in a continuing 5.5 percent annual home price appreciation as well as interest rate rises of 50 basis points a year. Under that scenario, “we see that in two years home affordability will be pushing the upper bounds of that pre-bubble average,” says Ben Graboske, senior vice president at Black Knight Data and Analytics. “At the state level under that same scenario, eight states would be less affordable than 2000-2002 levels within 12 months and 22 states would be within 24 months.”

Graboske notes that Hawaii and Washington, D.C., in particular, are already less affordable than they were during the pre-bubble era. On the other hand, he says, even after 24 months under this scenario, Michigan – and a few other states – would still be much more affordable by the end of 2017 than it was in the early 2000s.

Within 12 months, the average mortgage payment is expected to rise by $114, which would then require 24 percent of a household’s monthly income – still below the 2000-2002 levels, according to Black Knight. But by the end of 2017, monthly mortgage payments are expected to be $240 more than today, which would push the tally to 26.5 percent of a household’s income and the upper levels of the pre-bubble averages, the report notes.

source:  Black Knight Financial Services


The ugly home's curb appeal may begin and end at the curb — but more and more real estate professionals are bringing a dose of reality to their listings of eyesores, hoping the ugly ducklings might still attract home buyers.® reports that a small but growing number of listings nationwide are advertising “ugly homes,” complete with descriptions of the home as “dirty” to the “worst in the neighborhood.”

“People love eye-catching headlines, and reverse psychology seems to work,” says Cara Ameer, a real estate professional in Ponte Vedra, Fla. “These types of descriptors pique interest, and people say, ‘How bad could it be?’”

One three-bedroom, two-bathroom home in Northridge, Calif., listed at $475,000 is being marketed as a “flipper’s fantasy” -- but “cash only.” The listing includes photos showing an exterior covered in overgrown landscaping and a brown, dirty interior complete with wall cracks and missing flooring.

The listing reads: “This is truly the worst home in the best neighborhood.”® notes the home has been viewed 123,900 times since being posted two weeks ago.

A three-bedroom home in Mechanicsburg, Pa., is also trying to use the “worst home in the neighborhood” hook to lure a buyer. The listing description reads: “We have the winner in the ugly-house contest with this. … It needs everything, starting with soap and water. … Because of its horrendous condition, you have the opportunity for the buy of a lifetime.”

source:® and New York Post