With oil and gas activity, incoming plant workers, Victoria's real estate market sees improvement


May 21, 2011 at 12:21 a.m.

It's a common sight in a residential subdivision: the white sign standing tall, advertising a home for sale or lease, a handy phone number listed beneath the agent's name.

And, while such signs still call Victoria home, they've recently become more difficult to find.

An influx of people heading to the Crossroads for oil and gas jobs or plant positions has real estate activity picking up.

Business isn't booming, but the situation has improved, said Lee Swearingen, president of Coldwell Banker the Ron Brown Company.

Victoria's market for the first four months of the year is much like it was for that same timeframe in 2010, he said. The main difference is that in 2010, the market was artificially stimulated by the first-time homebuyer tax credit, something many people took advantage of.

"This year we're seeing immigration into Victoria of new buyers and people from outside of the market moving in," Swearingen explained. "This is the first time we've seen that in some time."

April saw 65 home sales with an average price of $149,421, according to data from the Texas A&M University Real Estate Center. That's a little under April 2010, which saw 73 sales and an average price of $134,765.

Home prices are seeing a bit of upward movement, he added, and in most places across the nation, that isn't the case.

"All in all, our market is OK," he said. "It's not a boom market by any stretch, but it's certainly outperforming many places in the country and in Texas."

2010 was a good year for the Crossroads and 2011 has gotten off to a good start, said Greg Spears, who owns Greg Spears Realty. Sales are up, and there's a shortage on rental properties, he said.

Sales aren't going like gangbusters just yet, he said, noting that interest rates recently saw another drop.

"We ought to, at those interest rates, have 10 people in our lobby ready to write contracts," he said. "But I've written two this week. It's definitely changing around."

Foreclosures are now included in the multiple listing service, which might help somewhat with the shortage of available properties, said Linda Johnson, broker with The Summit Realty in Victoria. For years, such properties were listed on their own.

"The homes had signs on their windows and front doors, and people just had to go out and find them," she explained. "Now we have all the information at our fingertips."

The uptick might be harrowing for those looking to buy or lease, but it creates opportunities in other parts of the market, Johnson said.

For people who already own homes to lease out, now is the time to get them on the market, she explained. It's also a good time for investors to purchase homes to rent out or to develop RV parks.

"Right now, the real estate investment is better than a savings account in the bank," she said. "It gives people a much better return on their money."



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