Hurry! PINS Lifetime Passes for Visitors 62 and Older Going to $80

The price of a lifetime pass to national parks for people 62 years of age and older is about to change.

On August, 28, the cost of a lifetime pass to the national parks for those 62 and older will jump from $10 to $80. So if you are 62 years old get your lifetime pass before August 28 and you can access the more than 2,000 sites and parks across the country that are managed by the National Park Service. Those who purchase the passes before Aug. 27 will never have to pay an additional fee to visit any of the national parks, according to the NPS.

Passes can be purchased online for an additional service fee of $10 or at any of the parks without the extra charge. Passes also can be purchased through the mail, though applications must be postmarked by Aug. 27 to secure the $10 price.

The park service has offered the lifetime senior pass for $10 since 1994. It covers all entrance, day-use and vehicle fees, and provides discounts for things such as tours and campsites. At a site that charges per-person fees, pass holders can bring along three other adults for free. Seniors can still opt to buy an annual pass for $20. Those who purchase an annual pass for four straight years can convert their pass to a lifetime senior pass.

Single park-admission fees to the most popular sites can run as much as $30.In late 2016, Congress approved legislation, the National Park Service Centennial Act, that raises fees and sets up an endowment to help pay for projects and visitor services.

 via Padre Island Moon

Rebuilding the Iconic Harbor Bridge

If you’re a native South Texan, no doubt you are familiar with Corpus Christi’s big, beautiful, bridge.  The one that is sure to mesmerize and to some may even seem a little scary to cross.  You guessed it—the Harbor Bridge–the iconic roadway that is a distinct feature of the sparking city by the sea’s landscape is about to get a major upgrade.

The Harbor Bridge as we currently know it was built back in 1959 for a total cost of approximately $11 million dollars. It was considered the most important design work of Texas Highway Department Bridge Engineer Vigo Miller and was featured in Time magazine in 1964 for its exceptional beauty. No doubt our current bridge has served our community well, but increased safety concerns rooted in an aging infrastructure meant it was time to research a rebuild.

City and regional leaders have been working more than 15 years to pave the way for the construction of a replacement Harbor Bridge.  After an extensive Environmental Impact Study, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) was granted approval from the Federal Highway Safety Administration to rebuild the current structure.  Now, here we are at the launch of one of the largest and most significant transportation projects in the region.

This summer, construction will commence on a new Harbor Bridge.  This new structure promises to be just as magnificent and beautiful as the beloved, current Harbor Bridge.  Making the most of the majestic views of the bay, the new bridge will be the longest, cable-stayed, concrete-segmental, bridge in North America.

The nearly $900 million project will include the development, design and construction of just over six miles of combined bridge and roadway.  It will include the new six-lane Harbor Bridge, as well as, the reconstruction of approximately 1.6 miles of IH-37 and approximately one mile of the Crosstown Expressway.  Once the new bridge is open to the traveling public, the project will conclude with the demolition of the existing Harbor Bridge.  The design/build firm, Flatiron/Dragados, LLC, who were chosen by TxDOT to complete construction, anticipate the project will take five years to complete.

The new bridge design incorporates a number of aesthetic features including shared-use paths, a community plaza, nighttime LED lighting and xeriscape landscaping. Designers are aiming for the new Harbor Bridge to be just as iconic as the original.  In order to get there, it’s anticipated that between 500 and 650 skilled workers will be needed to complete the job.  For more information on employment opportunities and general updates about the Harbor Bridge Project, please visit www.harborbridgeproject.com.

Padre Island Housing Report June 2016

The Housing Market is Hot,Hot, Hot right now.  Take a look at the statistics on what’s happening here on Padre Island in Corpus Christi, TX.  Click on the Picture below and get a full PDF to print out to keep track of this data.  The summer is going by fast, give us a call and discuss the many opportunities to own a piece of coastal Texas! (361) 949-0101

padre-island-housing-report-june-2016

Dine Island

dineisland

Here on the Island, we all speak one common language, and that is FOOD! It’s something that since the beginning of time has brought people together – we have holidays for food, special rooms in our home for making food and eating food, and food is a very universal topic of conversation.

For those of you who are familiar (or, rather, unfamiliar) with Dine Downtown, this event, hosted by Marina Arts, went on from January 18th-31st. It featured some of Corpus Christi’s best restaurants who were able to offer a three course value-priced menu. Residents bought tickets, dined, had a wonderful time, and were able to check out local eateries they may not have been to prior.

It was such a huge success, that Island resident, Debbie Noble, is bringing this concept right to our front doors! But her model is slightly different.

Sponsored by the Padre Island Business Association and the Padre Island Moon, Noble is bringing us together to break bread. This is the first restaurant-type event the Island has ever seen. Restaurants all over the Island have signed up to offer unique three-course dining experience at value price. This does not include beverages, tips and taxes.

The idea is to get both Island residents to try the local fare they haven’t yet made it out to, and to also encourage non islanders from all over the Coastal Bend to come see how special our restaurants are!

“We are so excited to show off our great Island restaurants to the rest of the city and give people a reason to come OTB,” Noble exclaims!

Currently, participating restaurants include: Veranda, Costa Sur, Boathouse, Angry Marlin, Padre Pizzeria, Island Time Sushi, JB’s German Bakery, A La Mode Gelateria, Mikel Mays, Scuttlebutts, Surfside Sandwich, Texas Mesquite BBQ, Black Sheep Bistro, Dragonfly, and Docs. Many will likely offer drink specials or signature drinks for the meal.

What’s best? Every meal that is sold, the participating restaurant gives $1 that goes toward the Corpus Christi Food Bank. Padre Pizzeria is so excited that they are donating $2 for every meal! According to the Food Bank, every dollar allows them to provide 7 meals. Talk about a delicious event for a worthy cause.

Coastline Properties has also graciously offered to match the money from the restaurant that does the most dine island meals. “Cheri Sperling is an instrumental member of the community and wanted to get involved as well,” Noble says.

Mark your calendars, and get ready for two weeks of marathon meals! The hope is to make this an annual event, so mangia!

 

Colleen McIntyre will not seek reelection

District 4 City Councilwoman Colleen McIntyre said Monday she has decided this will be her last term as a Corpus Christi City Council member.

McIntyre has accepted a position as the director of Seashore Middle School and as the superintendent of Seashore Charter Schools on Padre Island.

McIntyre told KRIS 6 News her new position makes it difficult to put in the time and effort to serve on City Council.

She has served for two terms.

“Being with all of the different groups in the community. Being able to help with… whether it’s code enforcement, animal control, zoning cases, all the different things that I’ve dealt with in the areas of the district I’ll miss that a lot,” said McIntyre.

Her term will end in November. via Kristv.com

We want to personally thank Ms. Colleen McIntyre of her dedication to city council over the past 2 terms. We truly have enjoyed her keeping an eye on padre island interests and much of the work she has completed and set into motion during her term. You will be missed, and we are excited for your new position to lead Seashore Middle Academy forward into an even more successful future. Thank you again for your service in our city government, we feel blessed to know you! ~Coastline Properties

CC voters face critical sales tax vote in November

KRISTV.com | Continuous News Coverage | Corpus Christi
CORPUS CHRISTI –

Plenty of issues will be in voters’ hands come November, including a pivotal decision on how to spend sales tax revenue.

Depending on the vote, a powerful city board that spends your money, may not exist next year.

An eighth of every cent you pay in sales tax funds the city’s Type A Board, which controls the Type A Fund.

We’re talking millions of dollars a year controlled by five people.

The board spends most of it on economic development. They also spend money on seawall repairs and the American Bank Center.

CLICK HERE: Projects funded by Type A Board

The board (fund) is up for renewal this year, and it’s up to the voters.

Jerry Sansing is president of the Corpus Christi Taxpayers Association. He plans on voting against it.

“I’ve seen too much money go down the drain. You know, we can’t fix streets. We can’t do this. We can’t do that, but we can certainly tax for everything under the sun,” he says.

Sansing would rather the city give that money back to the people, or spend it, in part, to cut down palm trees off Airline. The ones right by the Gulfway Shopping Center.

Sansing says they violate the Americans with Disabilities Act because they take up too much room on the sidewalk, and make it almost impossible for people in wheelchairs to get by.

But Type A Board member Bart Braselton points out the board’s numerous accomplishments, like landing Schlitterbahn with a $5 million deal in incentives.

“It competes with other cities, and when you know, when you’re having somebody that’s bringing say, anywhere from 500 to 1,000 new jobs to your city, the return on investment is incredible,” Braselton says.

Sansing says projects like Schlitterbahn don’t need the money.

Braselton points out other things the Type A Board has helped fund, like the Engineering Department at Texas A&M Corpus Christi, or the truck driving program at Del Mar College.

If residents vote to get rid of the board, it’ll be disbanded after any remaining money is spent.

If that happens, it’ll likely be up to the city council to decide how to re-allocate that portion of sales tax revenue every year.  Via KrisTv.com

Corpus Christi Chambers to Unite

hand-shake

Officials for the Corpus Christi and Hispanic chambers of commerce say their historic merger should wrap up in the next few weeks, and that they are just days from unveiling the new organization’s name.

A transition team consisting of members from each chamber’s board took less than a month to unify the groups and agree on a name for the new chamber.

The team is expected to notify the two boards of its recommendation in coming days. The name will be made public after they’ve voted on it, perhaps as early as the beginning of February, Alan Wilson, chairman of the Corpus Christi chamber, told the Caller-Times on Thursday.

Other details, including memberships and drafting bylaws, are being worked out but appear to be on pace for completion by the end of March, Wilson said.

“Everyone has been on board with making sure this (merger) is something positive for the entire region, for the entire community,” said Rosie Gonzalez Collin, chair of the Hispanic chamber.

Members of the chambers voted overwhelmingly Dec. 29 to unite their organizations. Supporters have said the move was necessary to eliminate overlap in membership and to keep Corpus Christi’s business landscape in line with the region’s energy and job growth.

The two chambers haven’t wasted time preparing for the unification since.

Executive board members of each group have met with Annette Medlin, who recently was named president and CEO of the Corpus Christi chamber. The Hispanic chamber is planning an official welcome ceremony for Medlin during its Feb. 25 “Mi Casa es Su Casa” women’s mixer.

Medlin fills a vacancy left by Foster Edwards, who retired.

Earlier this month, the Hispanic chamber announced Gilda Ramirez would remain its interim president, while taking on a full-time role as its vice president of small business, international outreach and education affairs. Ramirez is expected to work on staff of the new chamber once the transition is finished.

Twitter: @Caller_ChrisRam via Caller Times

Coastline Properties – The Face of Padre Island Real Estate

We are delighted to have been nominated “The Face of Island Real Estate” in this months Issue of The Bend Magazine.

It’s incredible to discover so many other community leaders that are making waves in the Coastal Bend by being dedicated to their profession.  We salute all those businesses out there that truly understand the nature of customer service and work so tirelessly to care for and understand their clients needs.  Thank You Corpus Christi!!

coastlinebend1  coastlinebend2

 

The Bend Magazine – November 2015

TASTE OF THE ISLAND 2015

tasteoftheisland

Come to eat. Come to see and be seen. Combine the two and you’ll be seen stuffing your face. But it’s completely acceptable when you’re not alone! Over 1000 attendees are expected to be doing the same thing at the 28th annual Taste of the Island, where some of our best restaurant’s fare is being featured at the event on October 12st, beginning at 6 pm, at the most beautiful Port Royal on Mustang Island.

Don’t get out much? Now is your excuse to take a tasty tour of many of the restaurants perhaps you’ve always wanted to try but haven’t had the chance to! Aside from roughly 25 restaurants, there will also be 3 bars (bring your cash!) and live musical entertainment. If you think any of your senses will not be stimulated enough, bring your suit and take a dip in the famously large pool or hot tub (OK, maybe check with staff before hitting the water!).

The party lasts long into the night, as you’ll run into your friends, co-workers, friends of friends, and all the new friends you’ll make! And, if you stick around until the end, there are goodies to win! A silent auction throughout the evening will have roughly 70 items to bid on, then the live and Chinese auctions will proceed. So don’t forget to put your business card into the drawing. Win wine, gift certificates, island trinkets, and lots of other prizes that local businesses have been generous enough to donate will be given out to the lucky winners!

Meagan Furey, Chair for the PIBA Ambassadors, who has been selected to spearhead the volunteer committee, explains that “We expect more people than ever before to come, which means we need more volunteers than ever to help out! It’s going to be an incredible event that just gets bigger and more popular each year.”

As an attendee of the event last year, Tara Gallaspy, Coastline Properties Real Estate Agent, says “It was one of my favorite events of the year. The music was upbeat and fun, there was plenty of seating, and I ran into lots of friends. It’s the perfect venue and a great evening on the beach. Overall, a night to remember!”

Get your tickets a head of time! They are $50.00 a piece, and then it’s up to you to eat your money’s worth! Leaving hungry would simply be disgraceful.

Get Tickets Here >>

LIGHT APPROVED AT INTERSECTION OF AQUARIUS AND SPID

LED_traffic_lightSTOP! Or, you soon will be! On August 18th, a traffic light at the intersection of Aquarius and SPID was approved by the City Council.

After years of monitoring the intersection, results showed a daily average of over 33,000 vehicles during the summer months of 2012, and that number has continued to increase over the years. And on other parts of our barrier island, such as Galveston and South Padre Island, the speed limit is much slower going through their business districts.

Drivers coming over the JFK Causeway toward the island will be given a warning to the upcoming light when the traffic is backing up to the high peak of the bridge. This is meant to decrease the likelihood of collisions with the cars that are stopped at the light. There have been numerous attempts over the years to place this light, but the short distance between the intersection and the top of the JFK has been a reason for several failures to get the appropriate approval. But, city traffic engineers have done their due diligence and have given it the thumbs up.

Word on “the street” is that Turner-Busby Development, based in San Antonio, is looking to use the site on the east side of SPID near the intersection of SPID and Aquarius Street for a development called Packery Pointe Subdivision. This traffic light is simply part of their plan, and is set to be coordinated with the other lights along SPID. The light may cost up to $600,000, and will provide a convenient physical stop for vehicles to turn into this new development.

Turner Busby Development has apparently been working on the plans for the $30 million development for a few years. It will likely include a hotel, retail sites, Starbucks, small bar/restaurant, and even possibly some single family homes.  Now that Schlitterbahn is in full swing, it sounds as though the developer is more confident in beginning the project.

But, change is often met with opposition, as many residents are weary to the whole thing. The main concern seems to be that the signal could cause large traffic backups, and the new development with its possible chain restaurant(s) and commonality feel will ruin the quaint, quiet, and familiar island feeling.

Hey, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em!

Major Changes Coming to Mortgage Disclosures

THANK YOU FOR YOUR PATIENCE

“Patience is power. Patience is not an absence of action; rather it is “timing”

it waits on the right time to act, for the right principles and in the right way.”

― Fulton J. Sheen

 Changes-Ahead

Come October 1, there are major changes coming to mortgage disclosures that I would like to share with you. Buyers, sellers, loan officers, title companies and real estate agents will all be affected.

No longer will there be a HUD-1 Settlement Statement or a Good Faith Estimate from a buyer’s lender. Both forms are going “bye-bye,” as is the Truth in Lending Act (TILA) disclosure form. Replacing them are two new forms: the Closing Disclosure and the Loan Estimate.

Why does this affect anyone aside from those on the real estate, lender, title side? Because there are also new rules for the closing procedure, where the buyers and sellers tolerance come into play, as closing delays are almost unavoidable for the first few months.

One rule requires all forms to be ready three (business) days prior to closing. The National Association of Realtors recommends all closing documents are actually ready an entire week prior to closing, or “consummation” as is the new verbiage (yes, chuckling is OK).  So if everything is ready seven days prior to consummation, when you go into the three-day period, there are likely no changes to make. Because making changes as the countdown ensues comes with a cumbersome set of hurdles.

Everyone involved in the transaction is under pressure to get everything squared away earlier than in the past. Currently, the settlement statement can be completed and approved just hours before closing. Gone are those days. And as aforementioned, the buyers and sellers have to be cooperative, because if last-minute changes are made, a new three-day waiting period kicks in. Are there exceptions you ask? Yes! Bona fide financial emergencies such as the imminent sale of the consumer’s home at foreclosure. Any financial emergency must be accompanied by a written statement and will be very fact intensive.

The good news is, this doesn’t affect cash buyers, and many Realtors, Lenders, and Title Companies are taking the time and courses to get familiar with this new system and forms so we are ready! Communication will be KEY. But patience, grasshopper, good things come to those who wait.

Oil prices drop, Corpus Christi’s rent prices don’t

corpus-christi-rentalsCORPUS CHRISTI – Plunging oil prices may be a relief for Coastal Bend residents at the pumps, but they’re having little influence on rents or mortgage payments.

Experts predict the falling price of crude will force housing costs in energy-dependent Corpus Christi to drop at some point.

That day won’t come in 2015, they say.

The housing market in Corpus Christi is perhaps the tightest it has ever been for both potential renters and those looking to buy a home. Things won’t change for the rest of the year, despite a rush on home and apartment construction, said Jim Lee, the chief economist at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi.

Oil field workers who lived in apartments in Corpus Christi are moving to Alice, Cotulla and other small towns within the energy play to be closer to work, said Melissa Gomez, a broker for AAA Apartment Locating in Corpus Christi. Others have been moving out of higher-end luxury apartments and into older, more-affordable complexes to cut costs.

The exodus has created hundreds of apartment vacancies since November, but rent prices remain unchanged. Instead of lowering rents, property managers have eased move-in criteria to insure occupancy. Applicants with credit and rental-history blemishes and those whose income is less than three times the cost of rent are no longer being disqualified for apartments.

“We’ll see a decline in occupancy rates here and there … but they (complexes) won’t empty out,” Gomez said.

The average price of homes in Corpus Christi hit a record high of $207,700 in December, according to the latest data from the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University. That same month, the asking rent for a typical apartment in the city was 25 percent higher than it was just four years ago.

Five recently completed apartment complexes have been cleared since March to take in tenants. Another dozen are in various stages of construction and are due to open in coming months.

The Corpus Christi area’s apartment occupancy rate was 92.5 percent in December, according to ALN Apartment Data, a Carrollton-based firm that tracks rental property trends. That’s down from 94.3 percent in November and the record months of December and April, when occupancy hit 95.2 percent.

Average rent in Corpus Christi in December was between $842 and $880, an ALN report said, though it’s not uncommon for newer complexes to ask for more than $1,100 for a one-bedroom home.

Corpus Christi’s low unemployment has been a magnet for thousands of job seekers in the past three years, most of them eyeing work in the Eagle Ford Shale energy play. The trend has slowed recently as energy companies have scaled back shale production, even shaved jobs, trying to remain profitable.

Falling oil prices and cutbacks in shale oil production by energy companies will put “downward pressure” on the local housing market, Lee said. However, the majority of newly constructed apartments are likely to be absorbed by students at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi and personnel from the nearby Naval air station.

“The overall housing market in Corpus Christi, including single-family rental houses, will likely soften up after reaching its current peak, but the market for apartments might continue to be tight at least the rest of the year,” Lee said.

Apartment occupancy in Corpus Christi in January 2010 was 89 percent, and average rent was about $700.

Warren Andrich, CEO of the Corpus Christi Association of Realtors, was optimistic about the home sales market, while conceding more rental property was needed in the city.

The Real Estate Center reported that 375 homes were sold in Corpus Christi in December, typically a slow sales month.

The Coastal Bend’s economy, though heavily influenced by the energy industry, is diverse enough to support an increase in housing, Andrich said.

Although homes values are increasing and are being sold at or near their asking prices, Corpus Christi’s inventory of affordable homes — those priced between $125,000-$165,000 — is less than 300 units.

“These are all indicators that we were in need of the additional rentals coming on the market,” Andrich said.

Twitter: @Caller_ChrisRam

Corpus Christi Apartment Market (December 2014)

Occupancy Rate: 92.5 percent

Asking Rent: $880

Effective Rent: $873

Average Apt. Size: 850 square feet

Average Market Rent Breakdown By Floor Plan

Efficiency, $671

1 Bedroom, $753

2 Bedroom, $944

3 Bedroom, $1,084

4 Bedrooms +, $2,181

Source: ALN Apartment Data

Housing Activity (Annual figures)

Year No. of sales Average price Median Price Months of inventory

2004 4,745 $132,100 $113,800 4.6

2005 4,894 $147,300 $125,200 5.0

2006 5,192 $153,300 $130,400 6.2

2007 4,510 $162,000 $136,500 7.4

2008 3,773 $162,200 $138,900 9.0

2009 3,444 $155,500 $134,800 10.2

2010 3,445 $152,300 $136,500 10.3

2011 3,396 $157,500 $135,700 9.5

2012 4,058 $169,900 $142,300 7.1

2013 4,589 $180,700 $152,200 5.3

2014 4,721 $197,100 $168,600 4.5

Source: Real Estate Center, Texas A&M University.

via @callertimes

Next Stop for Median Home Prices $200,000

Corpus_Economy__2_8151378_ver1.0_640_480

CORPUS CHRISTI – The cost of an average home in Corpus Christi will exceed $200,000 before the end of the year, economic and housing industry experts say.

The average single-family home in the city fetched $199,300 in July, according to the most updated figures provided by the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University.

Jim Lee doesn’t expect the price tag to stay there.

In fact, it’ll likely inch further up before Christmas, he said.

“We’ve been seeing appreciation for months, but ($200,000) is a benchmark we’re going to hit soon,” said Lee, the chief economist at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. “This is a head up for next year’s tax bill. It’s going to go up.”

He credited the upswing to a fierce surge in demand for homes, which he attributed to growth from the Eagle Ford Shale energy play.

The average price for a home in Corpus Christi spiked to a record $202,700 in May, but dropped to $197,000 the next month, according to the most updated figures provided by the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University. It was at $199,300 in July. Lee said prices could climb as much as 10 percent by the end of the year. And that likely will mean property taxes also will increase.

“As (home) prices go up, so too do the taxes,” Lee said. “Another 10 percent … will be a burden on homeowners. They need to be ready for it.”

In an interview Wednesday with the Caller-Times, Lee described today’s housing landscape is somewhat reminiscent of the 2004-05 home-buying market, which ended in a downturn. The difference then was the Corpus Christi housing market more closely followed the national housing trend, and was not being guided by a fertile-and-booming oil market.

Scores more residents have descended on Corpus Christi in the past two years, lured by the prospect of energy-related jobs and a cost-of-living cheaper than anything in the metropolitan areas. Economists believe as many as 10,000 jobs will spring from it during the next five to seven years.

Statewide, 81,000 single-family homes were sold in Texas in the second quarter of 2014, according to the Texas Quarterly Housing Report, issued by the Texas Association of Realtors. That represents a 1.1 percent increase from the same quarter of 2013.

A total of 2,728 homes in Corpus Christi were sold between January and July, according to the Real Estate Center, which estimated average home prices would hit $194,100 this year.

Homes also are staying on the market half the time they did three years ago. Corpus Christi’s home inventory in July was such that a home will remain on the market for 4.8 months, compared with 10 months in July 2011.

Warren Andrich, president/CEO of the Corpus Christi Association of Realtors, expected more people to take advantage of first-time homebuyers assistance programs in the coming year, even for homes below $200,000. Andrich said the market may be advantageous to homeowners looking to upgrade, but may also present greater challenges for lower- and middle-income homebuyers, who are finding it increasingly hard to purchase.

There are 1,800 to 1,900 houses available in the city, compared with 7,300 homes on the market three years ago. Homes that are considered affordable — because they are listed for a selling price between $125,000 and $160,000 — are scarce in Corpus Christi; there are roughly 200 of them available.

Lee said homeowners had to do a lot of soul searching during the 2004-05 housing downturn. At issue was whether to dump their homes ahead of what would become a major national housing crisis and a global economic recession.

His advice for those tempted to sell while the price tag climbs?

“It’s definitely a seller’s market. Definitely,” Lee said. “But if you sell, where are you going to go? No one knows how long the oil boom will last.”

via Caller Times

Number of Oil & Gas Jobs Continue to Rise in Texas

Eagle Ford Job Seekers Face Challenges Living in the Oil Patch

The Eagle Ford Shale boom is attracting workers in South Texas, and with the price of oil currently hovering around $100 per barrel, growth is expected to continue into the immediate future. In March of 2014, the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) said 3,200 oil and gas related jobs were added in January, for a total of 15,800 jobs over the year and an annual growth rate of 5.6%.

With statistics like those, many folks are seeking Eagle Ford jobs to fulfill their dream of a better life, support a family, or simply make a career change, but working in the South Texas oil patch can be challenging. Since the boom began, the landscape of South Texas has changed – housing shortages, overcrowded schools, and increased traffic have become the new reality for many parts of South Texas.

South Texas Housing Options

This isn’t the first oil boom the U.S. has ever experienced. As a child, I recall my grandmother telling stories about living in tent cities, as her father worked the rigs across the country during the 1930s. Today, in South Texas, there are a number of lodging options, but where oilfield workers ultimately find a place mostly depends on availability and budget.

As a result of traditional housing shortages, many south Texas oilfield workers have chosen RVs as a temporary form of housing in a slew of South Texas RV parks that have sprung up all across the region in response to the boom. Prices for slips and accommodations can vary from park to park, and generally, prices have either go up or down depending on a park’s proximity to a hot area of development in the Eagle Ford. Most oilfield workers see their RVs as a place to get cleaned up, eat, sleep and then get back to work. Since 2009, hundreds of parks all across South Texas have targeted oilfield workers as their primary customer-base.

Concerns for Oilfield Workers

Aside from housing shortages, when school starts again in September, oil patch families can expect overcrowding and possible understaffing in South Texas schools. While some oilfield workers moving to Texas have opted to bring their families with them, others have decided to leave their families at home.

Another concern for workers seeking opportunities in the Eagle Ford Shale are traffic accidents. According to the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), 3,430 fatal and serious injury crashes and 236 traffic fatalities were recorded in the Eagle Ford in 2013. The count represents a 7% increase in fatal and serious injury crashes over the previous year for the region.

Author : Kirk Eggleston EagleFordShale.com

WINDSTORM INSURANCE: WILL ISLANDERS END UP PAYING EVEN MORE?

It’s no secret that it costs a lot to live on the coast, especially once you add up your taxes, homeowner’s insurance, flood insurance, windstorm insurance, etc. But it could get worse. The Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) may be adding surcharges to existing rate policies that could greatly increase insurance costs for our Coastal Bend residents in these 14 coastal counties: Aransas, Brazoria, Calhoun, Cameron, Chambers, Galveston, Jefferson,
Kenedy, Kleberg, Matagorda, Nueces, Refugio, San Patricio, and Willacy.

Perhaps it’s because we haven’t had a catastrophic event since Hurricane Celia in 1970, but in the event of hurricane damage that exceeds the amount the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA) can pay, all of the below policy holders will be assessed a yet unspecified amount of money.

  • Auto policy
  • Motorcycle policy
  • Recreational vehicle policy
  • Boat policy
  • Homeowners policy
  • Windstorm policy
  • Renter’s insurance policy
  • Commercial building policy
  • Fire and allied lines
  • Farm and Ranch owners

 

What really stings here is this: when hail or tornadoes pummel other parts of Texas,funding from our coastal counties goes toward aid. But what about if our coast gets hit with a hurricane? It’s on us and us alone to pay for the damages. This is making many of our residents scratch their heads.

On March 5, over 400 residents came to a public hearing the city held at Texas A&M for our residents to voice their opposition to the proposed “tax,” as Representative Todd Hunter referred to it. Below are some of the arguments made during the hearing:

State Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa commented on the misconception that all coastal residents are rich. In reality, we’re just like the rest of working America, where many of us can’t afford to pay much more. 

State Representative Todd Hunter expanded upon this idea, calling the surcharge a discrimination on the minority population of the 14 coastal counties. He pointed out that the TWIA website specifically states that they do not discriminate against geographical locations, which is exactly what this surcharge s. Before any surcharge law is passed, Representative Hunter suggests doing an economic analysis on the minority groups affected.  

Mayor Nelda Martinez explained this surcharge would have a burdensome affect on the momentum of our community, and that an increase in insurance over the past 14 years will economically sink these 14 counties. She wrapped it up by saying “Mother nature doesn’t discriminate…”  

JJ Johnson with TPCO American noted that with all the new big plants coming to Corpus (TPCO, Cheniere Energy, M&G Chemicals, Schlitterbahn…) there will be thousands of workers, too. We need to ensure that our new laborers on blue-collar salaries can afford to live here.

This surcharge could add up to hundreds, maybe even thousands of dollars extra per person per year. At the Corpus Christi Association of Realtors luncheon at the Corpus Christi Town Club on March 13, Representative Hunter explained that they will probably pass the rule, but they may be hesitant to enforce it. He promises to “fight them forever.”

The general consensus seems to be that our coastal residents should not pay these surcharges. Or, at the very least, spread the cost evenly across the state. As it turns out, there’s been a conclusion since 2009, but only now will this law be put into effect. After Hurricane Ike hit, the Insurance Council of Texas approved these surcharges,
given any subsequent hurricane damage exceeding $1 billion dollars. Here’s to testing our luck!

M&G Chemicals Plant Update: Corpus Christi Site

On Thursday, February 13th, at the Padre Island Business Association lunch, Jeff Shea, Site Manager for M&G Chemicals, spoke to update us on the M&G Chemicals PET/PTA Facility.

The privately owned company has locations all throughout the world, but this site here on Port Corpus Christi, Inner Harbor (across from Flint Hills Resources) will be the largest plant yet.

WHAT WILL THE PLANT PRODUCE?

The plant produces polyethylene terephthalate (PET for short), which is a safe and easily recyclable plastic polymer used mainly for containers of all sorts due to its superior water and moisture barrier quality. It will also produce the PET key raw material, purified terephthalic acid (PTA). Production is estimated at 1200 KMT/yr (kilometric tons per year) of PTA and 1000 KMT/yr of PET. This process is FDA approved, and a $1 billion investment.

CO-GENERATION PLANT

This means the plant intends to produce its own electricity. They will do this by using natural gas combustion for electricity, steam and heat. This is efficiency by using “waste.” Water usage is also at the forefront of the plant, as its projected to use approximately 6 million gallons per day. So M&G plans to generate their own water so Corpus Christi doesn’t suffer from drought due to the plant. They will bring in water from the Gulf, pull out the salt, and then put the brine back into the ocean. The technology used here is called “reverse osmosis membrane.”

WHY CORPUS CHRISTI?

According to Shea, “you guys got it all!” (which we already knew J). Corpus is located on the Gulf, it has easy access to three railroads, there are six refineries around, deep-water access, and there is Port access to the Bay and Viola Channel.

BENEFITS TO CORPUS CHRISTI?

This is thought to be an international investment to the area in that it holds the possibility of attracting upsteam and downstream industries as a result of the M&G investment, as this is a company with a proven track record of renewable resources. Not to mention, it will generate many jobs.

LET’S TALK JOBS AND TIMELINE

Jobs:

  • 250 direct full-time employees
  • 700 indirect employees
  • 3,000 construction workers at its peak (5 million man hours!)

Timeline:

  • Summer 2014 – Federal Air Permit received
  • 2nd Quarter of 2014 – Construction begins
  • 4th Quarter of 2015 – Construction completed
  • 1st Quarter of 2016 – Plant commissioned and operational

MAYOR NELDA MARTINEZ: STATE OF THE CITY

“Bold and Balanced Growth” is how Mayor Martinez described our Emerald City by the Bay, Corpus Christi – and she isn’t kidding. On the afternoon of February 6, 2014, at the American Bank Center, she touched on two major statistics that will hopefully make a big impact in the Real Estate realm this coming year.

Corpus Christi is one of the fastest growing metro economies in the United States coming in at No. 10 with a 3.8% increase in 2013 and a projected 3.1% increase for 2014. This is also due to a 4.3% rise in jobs. More people coming to Corpus = more buyers in the real estate market! Finally, the scale is tipping.

Mayor Martinez also pointed out that since 2010, there has been a housing rise of 19%. There has been a sizeable increase in new construction in Corpus, creating roughly 3,800 new jobs in 2013. Why would there be this kind of boom in new construction you ask? Because we want to be prepared for the economic growth that is expected. From 2012 to 2013, there was a 32% increase in new residential permits alone.

With that though, there has been a shortage of affordable housing. The city is attempting to change this by building some low-income housing, such as The Palms at Leopard, to accommodate 120 apartments, which broke ground Nov. 14, 2013, on Leopard Street. The goal is to offer a healthy mix of housing options throughout Corpus Christi, and to continue with neighborhood cleanups.

As for the Island, Schlitterbahn is projected to bring mass amounts of people to the park, increasing the growth and relevance of the island. Property values are expected to increase due to this exposure, and there will certainly be many more people looking to buy and rent around the island.

Onward and upward, Corpus Christi!

Drones: The Next Big Thing in Real Estate Photography?

Move over Google Earth. The Drone may soon be invading the aerial photography kingdom. These drones don’t listen to private conversations, nor are they combative, but they can be a highly useful tool for Real Estate Agents!

Traditionally, aerial photos for Real Estate were taken by photographers in privately hired helicopters, and even more recently, Google Earth.

But a new twist may be coming onto the scene – remote operated Drones equipped with cameras. The operator is able to direct the drone around and above any piece of desired real estate.

If you haven’t already droned me out (pun intended), consider how an aerial view can be a worthy exposure. As a seller, you are able to showcase the property in its entirety, along with its surrounding areas. Favorable differences from your standard point-and-shoot camera might more effectively show yard size vs. house size, the leveling of the land, angles, quality of roofing, etc – These features may be hard to visualize unless seen from a bird’s eye view.

A house on the water is said to be valued around 3 times that of an inland home. The use of a drone that would show proximity to water, would be valuable.

But don’t go placing your orders just yet. In an effort to protect the surveillance of private properties, Texas law passed Sept. 1 states that using drones for real estate photography is illegal and punishable by a fine. It might be three years before the savvy camera-carrying unmanned aircraft can capture your property of choice.

Loophole? House Bill 912 Senate Version (1E) states that “Code include a person who: (8) with the consent of the individual captured in the image and the individual who owns or lawfully occupies the real estate property captured in the image.”

Here’s to hoping we’re at least many decades away from robots selling the properties, too!

 

Cheniere Energy, Corpus Christi Liquefaction Project Update!

Chenier Energy coming to Corpus Christi

This past Thursday, Jan. 9, at the Padre Island Business Association lunch, we had the pleasure of listening to guest speaker Jason French update us on the latest Cheniere liquefaction plant. To be located just northeast of Corpus Christi on La Quinta Channel of Corpus Christi Bay.  French, Director of Government and Public Affairs for Cheniere Energy, described this as a time of “energy revolution” due to the “rise in manufacturing because of mass supply of oil and gas in Texas.” The plant, which should take roughly 5 years to complete, will start construction this time next year for an estimated completion year of 2018.

In a nutshell, liquefaction is the process of super cooling liquid natural gas to make it safer for long distance transportation.

Click here to read all about the liquefaction process and what this plant will do:
http://www.cheniere.com/corpus_christi/corpus_project.shtml

Benefits to the public?

This $10.5 billion dollar project will bring in jobs for approximately 300-400 people per day
during construction as well as permanent employees once completed. French also estimated
about 50,000 permanent indirect exploration and production jobs, a $5.2 billion dollar secondary
economic impact to the greater Corpus Christi region, and a $7 billion dollar reduction in trade
deficit.

2013 was Good……2014 should be even Better!

Austin Business Journal:  Corpus Christi blows Austin away in construction job growth!

Best Performing Cities Index by the Milken Institute:

Corpus Christi ranks 17th best performing Large City in America.

Corpus Christi is the 5th fastest metro employment growth in the Nation.

Global Insight for the US Metro Economies report: Based upon Gross Metropolitan Product, Corpus Christi ranks 10th!

Projects breaking ground this year:

Cheniere Energy – $12B LNG plant

Voestalpine – $700 million processing plan (largest Austrian project in the US)

M&G Resins – $900 million PTA/PET plant(the largest such facility in the world)

Occidental Petroleum announced a joint venture with Mexichem to build a $1.5B project in Ingleside.

Corpus is becoming a ‘global’ community.  TPCO (Chinese), Voestalpine (Austrian), M&G Resins (Italian), Trafigura (Swiss), Mexichem (Mexican) are sending people to Corpus regularly to do business ‘right here!’

Tourism:  Spring/Summer Schlitterbahn Country Beach Water Resort opening  their park/resort on North Padre Island’s – first phase.

New Home Starts:  Up 60% over the last two years.  Homes sales are up, prices are up and major construction are up!

So, come on 2014…….we’re ready for you!!!

Come Coast Awhile………with us!

Showdown With the Shutdown: Tales of How the Government Closures are Affecting Real Estate

The effects of the government shutdown are rippling through the real estate industry, and practitioners are feeling the pain all over the country. Most of the complaints we’re fielding are about USDA loans, which have been entirely frozen. Real estate pros are seeing deals fall apart, as the Department of Agriculture has shuttered its mortgage division during the shutdown.

But agents and brokers whose clients hold every type of loan are getting slammed. Though the FHA is still operational, it has drastically reduced its staff, causing widespread delays in the processing of FHA loans. And while the IRS is down, it can’t verify tax documents tied to conventional, FHA, or any other loans. That translates to many real estate deals being put on hold — or just disintegrating.

It’s becoming a madhouse out there for many practitioners fighting to keep deals alive as the shutdown puts a stranglehold on the market. We’ve gotten a few of their stories.

David Harman Jr., ABR, CRS, GRI
Associate broker, Century 21 Harman
Orem, Utah

Everything that was once in the former townhouse of Harman’s clients is now in Harman’s garage: furniture, memorabilia, even a refrigerator full of food. His clients were about to get approval for a USDA loan at the end of September, and they had long picked out the home of their dreams. Then the shutdown happened, the loan was stopped dead in its tracks, and Harman’s clients — a married couple with two kids of their own and three foster children — had nowhere to go. They had already told their landlord that they would be gone at the start of October, and another tenant was already moving in.

“They’re first-time home buyers. The only way they could afford a home was through the USDA program,” Harman says. “It’s just so sad because these guys were so close to getting their first home, and they were so excited.”

The Friday before the shutdown went into effect, Harman received word that the USDA needed just one final question answered before approving the loan. The next Monday, it all fell apart.

Harman offered his garage as a place to store his clients’ belongings while they were forced to move in with a relative. Even then, their family was split up.

“I guess the foster kids are back with the state,” Harman says, adding that there’s no way they would have been allowed to stay with them in their current living situation.

To make matters worse, the sellers of the home Harman’s clients were going to purchase is now threatening to sink the deal. At first, they were only allowing a one-week closing extension when they found out the buyers’ loan was backed up because of the shutdown, Harman says. Now, the sellers say they’re not even sure they want to sell anymore. Harman says he continues to try to negotiate an extension, but “we don’t know how long an extension to ask for. Is it a day? Is it a month? We don’t know.

“I try to call every day and talk to [my clients],” Harman says. “That’s all I can do is talk to them and reassure them that I’m doing everything I can. … I don’t even know if they’re going to want to buy a house anymore. It’s been such a nightmare.”

Marsha Byrum
Salesperson, Coldwell Banker College Real Estate
Oxford, Ohio

“My clients were at the tail end of a USDA loan,” Byrum says. “They still have hope that the government will resume and they will close on their USDA loan.”

But drastic times call for drastic measures, so Byrum’s clients are starting all over again, applying for another loan as a backup plan. The clients, she says, are applying for a conventional loan this time, in hopes that it will be easier — and faster — to get while the government shutdown continues with no resolution in sight. But it’ll come with a big price.

“The conventional financing will end up costing them more each month, and now they have to use their savings for a down payment,” Byrum says. They were originally planning to use their savings to buy furniture, she adds.

“Not only that, but if they were going to go regular financing rather than USDA, there were other homes in other areas that could have been an option,” Byrum continues. “But they wanted to take advantage of the wonderful government-offered USDA financing.”

All of this has left a bad taste in Byrum’s mouth: “The government is like a common crook that pulls an unsuspecting person in with no remorse of not following through on its promise.”

Lori Young, SFR
Broker-president, Young Realty Group, Inc.
Naples, Fla.

Young’s frazzled. She represents sellers in several deals that are saddled on the sidelines because the IRS is unable to verify buyers’ tax return documents to approve their loans. Many of the deals are for short sales. One is for a property that has a tax lien filed against it. Young was in the process of trying to get the IRS to issue a document of release to the seller with the tax lien. But all of that is in limbo now.

“Overall, I approached the shutdown as an issue out of the real estate professional’s control and that I will monitor daily,” Young says. “Once reopen, we will continue to push our files.

“I’m not sure what is going on, but I’m lucky that my sellers and the buyers are all being patient,” she adds.

Who knows how long that patience will last, though.

Young has 16 short-sale deals on the table, and they’re all on hold “with some type of excuse blaming the shutdown,” she says. “Some are stating Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac are holding up approvals, and others are stating ‘the investor’ has not approved the deal. I’m a bit concerned about my short sales, which are homestead properties that need to close by year’s end to avoid any additional tax implications.”

Young says she communicates every day with her clients and updates them on any new information she learns related to their deals. That’s what helps keep them calm. But with all these balls in the air, it seems like Young could use some calming herself.

How does she do it?

“I go to yoga class,” she says.

Laura
Marketing manager, Keller Williams Realty
Sarasota, Fla.

By the end of October, Laura, who asked to withhold her last name, and her 8-year-old son will be couch-surfing. The single mom was in line to close on her USDA loan and move into her new home with her little boy by Oct. 20. But now that USDA loan processing has come to a halt, they’ll be making very different plans.

“Even if the government reopened tomorrow, they wouldn’t be able to process my loan until December,” Laura says. “I haven’t come up with a plan for what we’re going to do for the next couple of months.”

She had already committed to moving out of her current place by the end of October, and she doesn’t have the option of extending her stay, she says. Luckily, a few of her co-workers at her 150-person Keller Williams Realty office have offered to open up their homes to her and her son — but that comes with its own set of problems.

“Staying in someone else’s house who you’ve only known for a year, especially with an 8-year-old — it just seems like such an inconvenience to them,” Laura says. And then there’s her son, an even bigger and more important concern. “I want him to have a stable environment,” she says, “but we may have to house-hop for a while.”

Laura says that she has no family in the area. She’s even offered to pay extra to her home’s builder to move in before the loan closes, but the builder wouldn’t except the deal, she says. So until this mess can get straightened out, she’s taking it one day at a time.

“I’m very humble and resourceful — we’ll figure something out,” Laura says.

Pam Aguirre, CRS
Broker-associate, RE/MAX Legends Group
Indianapolis

Aguirre says one of her latest listings is a “show stopper.” It’s a completely renovated three-bedroom, four-bathroom single-family home with newly redone hardwood floors, a remodeled master suite with walk-in closet, new porch, self-closing cabinets, and new finishes. It came on the market just days after the government shutdown went into effect — and Aguirre hasn’t had a single showing yet.

“I feel our marketplace has gotten very quiet” since the shutdown, Aguirre says. “I’m not surprised by the slowdown. I think consumers in general are still very uneasy about the economy, their buying power, and the possibility that a government shutdown may bring a return of what happened to the housing market in 2008.”

The slow response to Aguirre’s listing, located in the car-racing enclave of Speedway, Ind., is all the more troubling because it’s close to the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway, a major draw for the area.

“I was tweeting about a new listing coming to Speedway last week, hoping to draw some race teams or fans in. Nothing,” Aguirre says.

She admits that because renovation work on the home is wrapping up, she hasn’t had as many listing photos to show, and that could have an effect on buyer traffic to the property. But still, most of her listings that are in good condition, as this one is, have sold within a couple weeks of coming on the market, she says.

Even for properties in poorer condition, “the phone has been ringing and there have been showings,” Aguirre says. But right now, “the phone has been very quiet.”

via Graham Wood Realtor.com

Business Owners Push to Change Ordinance


A group of downtown business owners are pushing to change a city ordinance that would give code enforcement officers more power to clean up vacant buildings in an area that has become a virtual ghost town.

The Downtown Management District, a group of local business owners, voted at its board meeting Thursday morning to send a recommendation to the city to amend part of a longstanding ordinance that dictates how the city must handle vacant and dilapidated buildings.

The current ordinance prevents the city from inspecting the inside of the building unless there are two code violations visible from the exterior. But since many of the code violations are often on the interior, it is difficult for the city to do anything.

Local business owners have asked the city to amend that part of the ordinance so that only one code violation is required, effectively giving the city more power to crack down on owners who have left their buildings in disrepair.

“Hopefully, this is just one solution to help us get one step closer to fixing up downtown and keeping it the way it should be,” said Casey Lain, owner of the House of Rock and chairman of the management district board.

While the ordinance still does not allow for the city to demolish a vacant building, Lain said it will give the city more teeth in getting owners to comply with the rules. “It’s just a good vibe down here, so it [downtown] needs to be a place that’s good to invest your business in.”

The city is now working on drafting the amendment and is expected to present it to city council sometime this fall.

via KrisTV