Fort Bend County Real Estate Picture Shines

Mon Jun 16, 2008 5:45pm EDT

* Reuters is not responsible for the content in this press release.

  MISSOURI CITY, TX, Jun 16 (MARKET WIRE) -- 
 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
salesof 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
muchlonger 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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