Low supply, high demand for housing underlined by COVID-19 in Grapevine, Colleyville, Southlake

(Ellen Jackson/Community Impact Newspaper)
(Ellen Jackson/Community Impact Newspaper)

(Ellen Jackson/Community Impact Newspaper)

Image description
(Ellen Jackson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Image description
(Ellen Jackson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Some North Texas real estate experts say COVID-19 has resulted in fewer homes on the market, but demand remains as high as ever.

In step with regional trends, Grapevine, Colleyville and Southlake have all seen year-over-year declines in total housing stock in recent months. But despite the low supply, Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s International Realtor Carol Russo says the three cities are poised to remain in demand among buyers.

“Southlake is hot. So [are] Grapevine and Colleyville,” Russo said. “If a house is updated to a pretty good standard, really at any price, ... you shouldn’t be surprised to get multiple offers.”

North Texas’ status as a regional employment hub has long been a draw for buyers, but historically low interest rates are also spurring higher demand, said Randy White, owner of Randy White Real Estate Services in Southlake.

Robert Gleason, CEO of the Greater Fort Worth Association of Realtors, said local real estate agents are navigating how to continue moving houses in the midst of a global pandemic.

“Just in the industry, I mean, there’s been a lot of some really fast shifts to doing things virtually,” Gleason said. “That’s not only just for the initial process but also as far as remote notarization of documents and working with the title company and really trying to adapt ... to the new situation.”

Additionally, preliminary data on property values shows that all three cities have continued to see an upward trend, according to the Tarrant Appraisal District.

Grapevine’s citywide total appraised value increased by 2.64% from 2019 to 2020; during the same time frame, Colleyville’s value increased by 4.39%, and Southlake’s increased by 3.11%.

Buying, selling amid COVID-19

Though demand for homes in Grapevine, Colleyville and Southlake may be high, buying and selling during the pandemic have also come with their own set of complications for some.

Southlake resident Sue Wilson said she was close to closing on her next home in the Carillon neighborhood in February before the pandemic.

Wilson said she had no problem working with a large bank to secure a loan prior to local outbreaks of COVID-19. That changed when the pandemic arrived in full force, she said.

“Two months of going back and forth—and to find out you’re not approved at the last minute—I had to scramble and find a ... smaller local bank that didn’t have a problem and [wasn’t] scared to take it on,” Wilson said.

But securing another loan was not the end of Wilson’s troubles. The buyer who had agreed to take Wilson’s existing home pulled out of the contract.

“It fell [through] at day 21,” she said. “Fortunately, the house was still staged ... [I put it] back on the market again, and this time, it seemed like [there] was even more traffic coming through and more offers, and so I, ... fortunately, now, [am] selling to a family that is moving from Canada.”

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, demand for some home-related business services has been booming, such as Pirate Island Pools in Colleyville, according to its owner, Juli Gerrard.

“We put in more heaters in the month of March and April than we have probably put in our entire lifespan of the pool company,” said Gerrard, who has been in the business for 15-plus years.

That work includes cleaning pools ahead of listing a home for sale, Gerrard said.

Since finding another buyer, Wilson said she has contracted to have major construction work done at her new Carillon home.

“Construction did not stop, so, thankfully, ... I was able to, you know, have those months to plan and plot, and ... then, as soon as I closed, [I got] underway [with] construction,” she said.

After putting her home on the market for the second time, Wilson said, she received multiple offers.

Russo, the Northeast Tarrant County Realtor, said sellers should expect that demand, given the three cities’ amenities.

“Houses are getting four or five [or] six offers because inventory is low and demand is high. And because of our great schools and great location, ... we just have demand whether [there is] COVID or not.”

Russo said she has been taking extra precautions while showing houses. That includes wearing masks and providing hand sanitizer, she said.

“There is a COVID form that is put out by the Association of Realtors. And ... you sign that you’re not sick,” Russo said. “I personally have not done a formal open house yet.”

Market trends

From May 2019 to May 2020, the number of homes on the market in Grapevine actually increased from 105 to 117, but that number in Colleyville decreased from 200 to 126, and it decreased in Southlake from 223 to 154.

Gleason, the Greater Fort Worth Association of Realtors CEO, said regional home values have increased amid the sustained low inventory.

“Interestingly enough, ... during the last couple of months, ... prices have actually gone up and remained stable,” he said.

White said the state of North Texas’ housing supply is unprecedented in his decades of realty experience.

“I think we’re in the sixth or seventh year of low inventory. It’s less homes and more buyers,” White said.

White said some sellers’ fears of COVID-19 could be contributing to that lower total inventory.

“Either they’re fearful that it’s not safe, or they think that the market was going to be bad because we are in a recession,” White said.

The story of low inventory and high demand rings true at a regional level, according to Gleason.

Residential property market values are up 3%-5%, while commercial market values are up 10%-11% for the year, according to the Tarrant Appraisal District. Market data used to set appraisal values is locked in as of Jan. 1 of each year, so this year’s figures do not reflect any changes related to COVID-19.

Reductions to federal interest rates due to the COVID-19 pandemic could be encouraging high demand, Gleason said.

“A lot of the affordability issues that we’ve seen in this area, as we have a very tight supply—the lower interest rates make it easier for people to be able to afford some of these homes [where] we’ve seen the values increase quite a bit,” he said.

Even those who are not currently buying or selling homes are taking advantage of the lower rates, he said.

“You’ve seen a lot of people going back to ... refinance their existing mortgages, which were already at historically low rates, and ... now, they’ve even gotten lower,” Gleason said.

Still, having bought and sold homes before, Wilson said the process was more difficult during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I’m not gonna lie. The whole buying and selling during COVID definitely was stressful, more stressful ... than normal,” she said.
By Gavin Pugh
Gavin has reported for Community Impact Newspaper since June 2017. His beat has included Dallas Area Rapid Transit, public and higher education, school and municipal governments and more. He now serves as the editor of the Grapevine, Colleyville, Southlake edition.


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