Real Estate Center Online News

January 27, 2012

Cost of Living Down in the Valley

NEW YORK (, Valley Business Report) – If you're cost-conscious — and who isn't these days? — the Rio Grande Valley might be the place for you.

Harlingen has been named the least expensive city in which to live, nationally, by the Council for Community and Economic Research. Nearby McAllen ranked fourth.

Third quarter 2011 data from 309 urban areas was used to rank the areas in the council's Cost of Living Index (COLI). Rankings are based on pricing data on 60 consumer goods and services that represent a larger cluster of goods and services. Categories include groceries, housing, utilities, transportation, health care and miscellaneous goods and services.

Harlingen’s COLI is 18.3 percent below the national average. McAllen’s is 15.5 below. Compare that with Manhatten, NY, which is more than twice the national average at 223.9 percent.

The Valley wasn't the only Texas region to crack the top ten on the index. Waco ranked fifth and Temple tenth.

Houston Master of Master-Planned Communities

HOUSTON (Houston Business Journal) – Houston is home to two of the country's five top-selling master-planned communities, according to John Burns Real Estate Consulting LLC.

The Woodlands ranked second based on 945 home sales last year, up from 786 sales in 2010. Cinco Ranch came in third with 862 home sales, up from 823 sales in 2010.

Also cracking the top five was Alamo Ranch in San Antonio, with 500 home sales last year.

The top spot went to The Villages in Orlando, Fla., which had 2,307 sales.

Twelve of the top 50 master-planned communities in the survey are in Houston. A list is posted on the Houston Business Journal's website.

A total of 133 master-planned communities were surveyed by Irvine, Calif.-based John Burns Real Estate Consulting for the second annual ranking.

Want a $50 Shopping Spree?

COLLEGE STATION (Real Estate Center) – We've met hundreds of Tierra Grande readers over the years at Texas Realtor conventions, so we know they have strong opinions. Now they have a chance to share them.

If you're a regular TG reader, tell us what you think of the magazine by completing our online readership survey. As a bonus, you'll have a chance to win one of two $50 gift cards.

Our survey asks you to rate such things as the magazine’s subject matter, readability and timeliness. You can also tell us what topics you think deserve more coverage.

Completing the survey takes only a few minutes, and the feedback will be invaluable to us. We'll make decisions about the magazine’s look and content based on your responses.

So give us just a moment of your time, and we'll give you an even better Tierra Grande. And maybe a $50 shopping spree.

DeSoto Expecting Great Things from Kohl's

DeSOTO (Kohl's) – Kohl's says to expect great things in DeSoto once it opens its new distribution center there.

The Wisconsin-based department store announced yesterday that it has entered into a purchase agreement to build a new e-commerce distribution center at I-35 and Centre Park Blvd.

According to a Kohl’s press release, the 951,000-sf building is expected to open this summer. Kohl's will close on the agreement once the building is completed.

Ken Bonning, the company’s executive vice president of store planning and logistics, said they expect to create around 400 jobs for the area over the next three years.

Kohl’s currently operates 84 stores in Texas. When this facility is completed, the company will operate a total of 13 distribution centers across the country.

New Dotzour Economic Outlook Video Online

COLLEGE STATION (Real Estate Center) – Center Chief Economist Dr. Mark Dotzour shared his "Economic Outlook for Investors and Business Decision Makers" last week at the 2012 Land Investment Expo in Des Moines, Iowa.

The 42-minute video, available online, includes Dotzour's observations on the outlook for job growth, government policies, farmland and commodity prices and global investment trends. He also discusses what policies he thinks need to be adopted to restart the U.S. housing market.

For a copy of the PowerPoint presentation used during the speech, contact Lynn Stevens at

New FAA HQ Prepares for Takeoff

FORT WORTH (Dallas Business Journal) – The people at Hillwood Properties have their heads in the clouds, and with good reason.

Forty-five acres of Hillwood property will soon be home to the Federal Aviation Administration's new southwest regional headquarters.

The $160 million, 357,214-sf development will be at Heritage Trace Pkwy. and I-35W, near Alliance Town Center.

Groundbreaking is expected in spring 2013.

H-Town Housing Market: Full Steam Ahead?

HOUSTON (Metrostudy) – Houston's housing market appears to be building up steam, according to a recent report by housing data and consulting firm Metrostudy.

Area homebuilders started 18,417 new homes in 2011, a 2 percent decline from the 2010 total. But the 4,387 homes started in fourth quarter 2011 represent a 24 percent increase over last year’s tax credit-depressed quarterly starts count. Just over 4,890 new homes were closed last quarter, 388 more than the year before.

At the end of 2011, the city's new home market had an inventory of fewer than 10,000 homes, a first since 1997. A 10 percent decline in new home closings in 2011 caused new home inventory to rise from 5.9 last year to 6.4 months.

But the city's job growth should mean more work for builders this year.

“Based on the job growth of the last 12 months, the tight housing supply and the building confidence of the Houston market should lead to an increase in new home starts through the end of 2012," said David Jarvis, director of Metrostudy's Houston division.

Metrostudy said the city's unemployment rate dropped to 7.6 percent in fourth quarter 2011, a full percentage point less than the previous quarter's reading. Employment also grew by 3.3 percent annually.

Dallas Home Sales Up

DALLAS (Dallas Morning News) – Dallas got a little good news this week on the housing front.

According to the Dallas Morning News, last year marked the first time in five years that existing home sales figures in most Dallas neighborhoods were higher than the year before.

In areas where sales went up, the average year-over-year sales increase was about 5 percent.

Real Estate Center Research Economist Dr. Jim Gaines said he predicts that trend will continue in 2012.

“I think your sales this year will be up 2 or 3 percentage points,” Gaines said. “They are going to be about where 2009 sales were.”

Bergstrom's Port SA Industrial Lease

SAN ANTONIO (Transwestern) – Bergstrom Climate Systems LLC has leased 101,461 sf of industrial space at East Kelly Railport, located within Port San Antonio at 202 Tayman St.

The property owner is Dexus San Antonio Industrial LP.

Transwestern's Scott Wolff, who brokered the lease, said Bergstrom will initially hire around 75 employees and up to 175 employees within two or three years.

Illinois-based Bergstrom designs and manufactures HVAC systems for trucks, buses, military and agricultural vehicles.

Houston, We Need More Hotels

HOUSTON (Houston Business Journal) – What downtown Houston needs is more hotel rooms. At least that's what the company that manages the George R. Brown Convention Center is saying.

Yesterday, Houston First unveiled its 2025 master plan, which outlines a strategy for attracting more convention business.

The company said the convention center needs to add at least 2,000 hotel rooms to compete with other major convention cities as well as more downtown attractions and activities.

The plan also includes several initiatives that are already underway, such as redevelopment of the tourism center near the convention center and the redesign of Avenida de las Americas.

Cobalt's NT Industrial Pickup

DALLAS (Cobalt Capital Partners) – Cobalt Capital Partners LP has acquired an industrial portfolio that includes more than 914,000 sf of North Texas space.

The portfolio consists of the 209,000-sf building at 2829 Sea Harbor Rd. in Dallas and, in Carrollton:

  • 1505 Wallace Dr. (159,987 sf)
  • 1600 Wallace Dr. (80,000 sf)
  • 1601 Wallace Dr. (155,279 sf)
  • 1620 Rafe St. (62,893 sf)
  • 1621 W. Crosby (60,920 sf)
  • 1625 Wallace Dr. (78,130 sf)
  • 1640 Wallace Dr. (108,000 sf)

Also included was industrial space in St. Louis, bringing the total to more than 1.6 million sf.

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