Conroe - Montgomery Edition | July 2020

CONROE MONTGOMERY EDITION

REAL ESTATE

ONLINE AT

2020EDITION

VOLUME 6, ISSUE 4  JULY 22AUG. 18, 2020

4ways COVID19 shaped Conroe, Montgomery housingmarket

SUBDUEDLOCALHOME SALESMIRROR STATE TRENDS TREND 1

BY EVA VIGH

SLIIIIIPPIIIIING SALES

home sales totaled 291 in April, compared to 312 in April 2019, according to Houston Association of Realtors data. By May, home sales fell to 222, a decline from 379 sales in May 2019. However, some newer communities have reported above-average sales, with The Woodlands Hills hitting a record-breaking month in May and a 25% increase in home sales so far this year, said Heath Melton, executive vice president of MPC Residential for the Howard Hughes Corp. The master-planned community opened just north of Conroe in fall 2018. In Grand Central Park in Conroe, which opened in 2017, 80 homes have been sold this year—a 100% increase compared to the same time period in 2019, said Shannon League, marketing director for Johnson Development Corp., the community’s developer. May sales were 55% more than 2019 May sales, she said.

The real estate industry in Montgomery County was o to a roaring start this year, said Vicki Fullerton, the former chair of both the Texas and Houston associations of Realtors. The Greater Houston area saw historically low interest rates and an increase in demand, she said. “We were anticipating a really good year,” Fullerton said. And then the pandemic hit. In Texas, home sales in March surpassed March 2019 by 4.3%. But by April, home sales plummeted to 26,103—the fewest monthly sales since 2012 and an 18.7% decrease compared to April 2019, according to The Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University. May sales increased to 27,636 but were still 23.3% below May 2019. Local home sales also dipped. In the ZIP codes that make up the Conroe and Montgomery area,

Texas home sales took a hit during the pandemic, with record-low sales reported in April. Similarly in the Conroe and Montgomery area, home sales have generally trended downward.

KEY

HOME SALES

2019

2018

2020

TEXAS

CONROE, MONTGOMERY AREA

20.6%

+5.7%

13.3%

+11.1% 4.6% 38.2%

MARCH

APRIL

MAY

MARCH

APRIL

MAY

SOURCES: THE REAL ESTATE CENTER AT TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY, HOUSTON ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS’ MULTIPLE LISTING SERVICECOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

2 VIRTUAL OPEN HOUSES

HOMES ON LAKE CONROE 3

MORE SPACE 4

TRENDS CONTINUE ONPAGE 15

The Texas Education Agency announced initial guidelines for the 2020-21 school year in June, requiring an option for students at all districts— including Conroe, Montgomery and Willis ISDs—to return to campuses in the fall. But while students may have the option to return to classrooms, CONTINUED ON 18 School districts outline reopening options BY ANDY LI “WITHOUT US TAKING THIS ADVICE AND CHANGING THIS CURVE THATWE ARE CURRENTLY SEEING, WE ARE NOT GOING TOHAVE AN OPPORTUNITY TOHAVE NEXT SCHOOL YEAR.” CURTIS NULL, CONROE ISD SUPERINTENDENT

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THIS ISSUE

CONTENTS IMPACTS

HIGHLIGHTS FROMTHISMONTH

FROMCHRISSY: Our annual Real Estate Edition explores residential real estate trends in the Conroe and Montgomery areas and the anticipated eect of COVID-19 on the local market. Another front-page story dives into what the 2020-21 school year will look like. I hope this edition keeps you up to speed on what is happening in our community. If you have feedback or story ideas, we would love to hear from you. Chrissy Leggett, GENERALMANAGER

5

MARKET TEAM GENERAL MANAGER Chrissy Leggett, cleggett@communityimpact.com EDITOR Eva Vigh REPORTER Andy Li SENIOR GRAPHIC DESIGNER Kaitlin Schmidt ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE Janet Chambers METRO LEADERSHIP PUBLISHER Jason Culpepper MANAGING EDITOR Matt Stephens ART PRODUCTIONMANAGER Tessa Hoee CORPORATE LEADERSHIP PUBLISHERS AND FOUNDERS John and Jennifer Garrett GROUP PUBLISHER Traci Rodriguez EXECUTIVE EDITOR Joe Warner John and Jennifer Garrett began Community Impact Newspaper in 2005 in Pugerville, TX. The company's mission is to build communities of informed citizens and thriving businesses through the collaboration of a passionate team. Today we operate across six metropolitan areas, providing hyperlocal, nonpartisan news produced by our full-time journalists in each community we serve. BECOMEA#COMMUNITYPATRON Please join your friends and neighbors in support of Community Impact Newspaper’s legacy of local, reliable reporting by making a contribution. Together, we can continue to ensure citizens stay informed and keep businesses thriving. COMMUNITYIMPACT.COMCIPATRON CONTACT US 8400 N. Sam Houston Pkwy. W, Ste. 220 Houston, TX 77064 • 2814696181 PRESS RELEASES comnews@communityimpact.com SUBSCRIPTIONS communityimpact.com/subscriptions SUPPORT LOCAL JOURNALISM CREATIVE DIRECTOR Derek Sullivan SALES DIRECTOR Tess Coverman WHOWE ARE © 2020 Community Impact Newspaper Co. All Rights Reserved. No reproduction of any portion of this issue is allowed without written permission from the publisher.

Now Open, Coming Soon &more TRANSPORTATIONUPDATES 6 Updates for local road projects CITY& COUNTY 7 Cities see sales tax revenue changes

Real EstateEdition

FROMEVA: We included a news item in our last issue about Montgomery County commissioners approving an economic stimulus proposal, which would give homeowners who qualify $500. Since then, we have learned that as of July 14, the proposal is still pending approval by the U.S. Department of Treasury, and the application process has not yet opened. We will provide information on when and how to apply when it becomes available. Eva Vigh, EDITOR

MARKET AT A GLANCE Home sales data DEVELOPMENT UPDATES

9

10

Projects under construction HOME IMPROVEMENT GUIDE 11 Tips from local experts INSIDE INFORMATION 14 A guide to understanding renancing

THIS ISSUE BY THE NUMBERS

Local sources 24

New businesses 7

Transportation updates 5

New developments 4

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CONROE  MONTGOMERY EDITION • JULY 2020

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

IMPACTS

Businesses that have recently opened or are coming soon, relocating or expanding

COMPILED BY ANDY LI

NOWOPEN 1 Beauty Babes opened June 1 at 305 Prairie St., Montgomery. The salon oers hair and makeup for special events, such as weddings and maternity photos. It also oers a small retail section. 713-825-2099. www.beautybabesmuah.com 2 Wildcat PPE opened its new head- quarters at 301 S. Trade Center Parkway, Conroe, on June 22. The company was created by Magnolia-based Wildcat Cables, which shifted from manufactur- ing cables to personal protective equip- ment amid the coronavirus pandemic. 832-521- 3770. www.wildcatppe.com 3 Willis Urgent Care opened June 15 at 12717 I-45 N., Ste. 300, Willis. The phy- sician-owned oce oers walk-in urgent care as well as physicals and other med- ical exams. It accepts most insurance, according to co-owner Jennifer Kempton. Co-owner Brian Kempton is a board-cer- tied emergency room physician. 936-228-7598. www.willisurgentcare.com 4 Combat Zone Nutrition , a veteran-owned family business, opened July 10 on 12621 Hwy. 105 W., Conroe. The store serves meal replacement shakes and herbal energy teas. Shake avor options include Reeses Peanut Butter Cup and Turtle Cheesecake, while tea avors include orange, lime, berry and tropical.

1

149

WILLIS

1097

3

MONTGOMERY

75

105

Beauty Babes

COURTESY BEAUTY BABES

936-391-1374. www.facebook.com/ Combat-Zone-Nutrition- 109262934150903 Galavant’s Coee opened in June in down- town Conroe. Owners Bradley Bailey and Makenzie Rankin will operate the mobile coee cart and sell teas, homemade syr- ups and espresso-based beverages using beans from Amaya Coee, a specialty roaster based in Houston. The business is also open for private events and weddings. www.facebook.com/galavantscoee COMING SOON Partners in Primary Care will open an oce in Conroe in the winter, according to a June 11 news release. The senior- focused primary care provider is looking to hire about 80 clinicians and support sta for its Conroe location as well as nine other locations in the Greater Houston area. Partners in Primary Care is a national primary care medical group with locations throughout the country. The address for the Conroe location has yet to be determined. www.partnersinprimarycare.com RELOCATIONS 5 Carlson Gracie Houston , a jiu-jitsu school, opened June 29 at 1210 S. Frazier St., Conroe, Program Man- ager John Bailey said. Previously located on North Frazier Street, the facility oers instruction for children, Brazilian jiujitsu and muay thai. The new facility is three times as large as the old one and has more mat space. There are three Carlson Gracie teams in Texas, with the Con- roe location representing the Houston branch. 936-447-9321. www.carlsongracieteamhouston.com

CONROE

4

105

1

149

5

105

45

149

1488

HARPERS LANDING BLVD.

242

2

1774

45

S. TRADE CENTER PKWY.

MAP NOT TO SCALE

N TM; © 2020 COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER CO. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

FEATURED IMPACT

JIMMY BUFFETT’SMARGARITAVILLE AND THE LANDSHARK BAR&GRILL

Jimmy Buett’s Margaritaville opened June 26 on Lake Conroe at 600 Margaritaville Parkway, Montgomery. The 186-acre location features an 18-hole golf course, two restaurants, a water park, boating, shing and other lake activities. The Landshark Bar & Grill opened June 4 at the same location as the resort. The bar serves beach bar items, including sh tacos, burgers and margaritas. 877-286-9590. www.margaritavilleresort lakeconroetexas.com

MARGARITAVILLE PKWY.

LAKE CONROE

WALDEN RD.

105

N

Jimmy Buett’s Margaritaville and The Landshark Bar & Grill 600 Margaritaville Parkway, Montgomery

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CONROE  MONTGOMERY EDITION • JULY 2020

TRANSPORTATIONUPDATES

COMPILED BY ANDY LI

UPCOMING PROJECT

3083

2

45

1484

PLANTATION DR.

3083

MARKET PLACE DR.

UNION PACIFIC RAILROAD

N

75

336

Market Place Drive extension The city of Conroe will build a four- lane concrete road from Market Place Drive to Plantation Drive. The project will include sidewalks and a left-turn lane onto Plantation Drive. Timeline: July-September Cost: $802,412 Funding source: city of Conroe Flashing yellow lights The city of Conroe has substantially com- pleted a project to install ashing yellow lights at 26 intersections throughout the city. As of early July, the city was waiting for resolution on one signal. Timeline: January-May Cost: $727,688 Funding source: city of Conroe

45

105

CONROE

105

336

3083

2854

1

3

W. SANTA FE ST.

SANDRA ST.

N

MAP NOT TO SCALE

YORK AVE.

ONGOING PROJECTS 1 FM 2854 widening

COMPLETED PROJECTS 3 Milltown-area improvements Contractor Smith & Co. has substantially completed a project to overlay about 2 miles of Sandra Street around Milltown Park and improve roadside drainage. Cost: $2.4 million

Funding source: TxDOT 2 FM 3083 widening

Work to widen FM 3083 to a four-lane divided roadway is 75% complete. The project is expected to be completed this summer. Timeline: November 2018-summer 2020 Cost: $9.05 million Funding sources: TxDOT, federal

Contractor Harper Brothers Construction is 85% complete with work on a Texas Department of Transportation project to widen FM 2854 to a four-lane concrete curbed roadway from Loop 336 to I-45. Timeline: August 2018-spring 2021 Cost: $18.67 million

Timeline: August 2019-July 2020 Funding source: city of Conroe

ALL INFORMATION ON THIS PAGE WAS UPDATED AS OF JULY 9. NEWS OR QUESTIONS ABOUT THESE OR OTHER LOCAL TRANSPORTATION PROJECTS? EMAIL US AT COMNEWSCOMMUNITYIMPACT.COM.

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

CITY& COUNTY

News fromMontgomery County and the cities of Conroe, Montgomery & Willis

Montgomery County Commissioners Court meets at 9:30 a.m. July 28 and Aug. 11. www.mctx.org Conroe City Council meets at 9:30 a.m. July 23. 936-522-3010. www.cityofconroe.org Montgomery City Council meets at 6 p.m. July 28. 936-597-6434. www.montgomery texas.gov/citycouncil Willis City Council meets at 5:30 p.m. Aug. 18. 936-856-4611. www.ci.willis.tx.us Some meetings may be held virtually. MEETINGSWE COVER CITY HIGHLIGHT Montgomery The Montgomery Planning and Zoning Commission approved exterior renovations to a historic home located at 504 Carolina St. on July 7. The new homeowners are also opening a restaurant named Wings Over Montgomery just down the street.

Montgomery County purchases portable shelter ahead of possible surge needs

Montgomery County commissioners approved purchasing a portable shelter to be used for overflow patients if hospitals reach capacity. • Purchase cost of $476,000 • Funded by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act • Could hold up to 75 patients • Could be used during COVID-19, flooding and fire • Will be located in a hospital parking lot to reduce costs SETTING UP A SHELTER

BY EVA VIGH

shelter for other purposes, such as shelter during flooding and fire, after it is no longer needed for reasons related to the pandemic. The shelter will be put in a hospital parking lot, as requested by hospital officials, Millsaps said. By putting the shelter on-site, the county will not have to pay for hospital staffing costs. As of July 13, 153 out of 174 oper- ational ICU beds were in use in the county, according to the Southeast Texas Regional Advisory Council, but Millsaps said there will likely be an influx of patients from the Texas Medical Center in Houston as those facilities reach capacity. Montgomery County hospitals are regional hospitals, meaning they do not serve only county residents. The

MONTGOMERY COUNTY As Montgomery County hospitals brace for an anticipated influx of coronavirus patients, county officials greenlighted the purchase of a portable shelter they said they hope to never use. Commissioners approved the pur- chase June 23 for overflow patients if hospitals reach full capacity. The cost is $476,000, and the shelter can hold up to 75 patients, said Jason Millsaps, the chief of staff for County Judge Mark Keough. Funding will come from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, which stipulates items purchased must be specifically related to COVID-19. The county will be allowed to use the

SOURCE: MONTGOMERY COUNTY/ COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

county does not have the authority to permit only Montgomery County residents into the portable shelter if it was in operation, officials said. On June 23, Millsaps said it could take up to 16 weeks for delivery, but Millsaps said June 24 the vendor had confirmed an estimated delivery between four to five weeks.

Conroe, Montgomery, Willis see sales tax revenues rise

Vince Santini wins Republican runoff forMontgomery County's 457th district court judge

BY ANDY LI

So far, the city has collected about $28.75 million in sales tax revenue this year. Meanwhile, the city of Montgomery collected about 22.23% more sales tax revenue in May 2020 than in 2019. Sales tax revenue generated in Montgomery in May totaled $231,928. That figure also represents a 5% increase compared to this April. So far, the city has collected $1.3 million in sales tax revenue this year, according to the comptroller’s office. According to the data, Willis collected $259,033 in sales tax revenue in May. This is a 28.72% increase from its May 2019 revenue and an almost 15% increase from its April revenue. Year to date, the city has collected $1.9 million.

MONTGOMERY COUNTY Despite the coro- navirus pandemic, city officials with Conroe, Montgomery and Willis saw a rise in May sales tax revenue, according to information released in July. Data released by the Texas comptroller of public accounts July 8 is based on May sales. The city of Conroe’s sales tax revenue for May is an 11.59% increase compared to May 2019, according to the comptroller’s office. Conroe’s sales tax revenue for May is $4.19 million, while in May 2019 it was $3.75 million, according to the comptroller’s office. This also represents an increase from April’s sales tax revenue of $3.53 million.

BY EVA VIGH

MONTGOMERY COUNTY With all 50 election day precincts reporting, Vince Santini has likely won the Republican runoff for Montgomery County’s 457th district court judge, as of July 14. Santini garnered 18,767 votes, or 78.06% of total votes, according to Montgomery County election data. Opponent Eric Yollick received 5,274 votes. Montgomery County results may not include all absentee ballots, and all results are unofficial until canvassed. The winner will face Democrat Marc M. Meyer in the November general election.

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CONROE - MONTGOMERY EDITION • JULY 2020

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2020 REAL ESTATE EDITION

COMPILED BY EVA VIGH

201920 CONROE  MONTGOMERY  WILLIS REAL ESTATE MARKET AT A GLANCE

DAYS ON THEMARKET AVERAGE June 2018-May 2019

June 2019-May 2020

77301

77304 +1.4%

77318

77318

149

53

45

69

70

57

74

-15.1%

+29.8

The number of homes sold in the Conroe and Montgomery area has increased from June 2019- May 2020 compared to the prior 12 months— despite the coronavirus pandemic. Meanwhile, the average home sale price rose in six of the eight ZIP codes that make up the area, and the average number of days on the market decreased or stayed the same in four.

77356

45

77303

105

77302

77306

77356 -1.4%

77304

77306

50

50

52

78

72

71

77301

0%

+50%

77316

N

77302

95 -4.2% Montgomery County

77303

77316

HOMES SOLD NUMBER OF

June 2018-May 2019

June 2019-May 2020

42

43

69

65

91

+2.4%

-5.8%

369

801

339

+1.1%

+9.9%

+3.5%

HOME SALES PRICE AVERAGE

June 2018-May 2019

June 2019-May 2020

373

880

351

267

69

778

$296,000 $281,000 -5.1% $351,000 $374,000 +6.6%

$219,000 $219,000 0% $221,000 $244,000 +10.4%

$280,000 $298,000 +6.4% $172,000 $197,000 +14.5%

0%

-17.4%

-0.8%

772

267

57

10,269 10,765 +4.8% Montgomery County

226

718

-10.6%

+9.9%

202

789

TOTAL HOMES SOLD IN CONROE  MONTGOMERY  WILLIS June 2018-May 2019

Montgomery County

$211,000 $217,000 +2.8%

$339,000 $366,000 +8%

$320,433 $324,543 +1.28%

June 2019-May 2020

10.34% 7.49% 6.34%

10.11% 7.23% 5.47%

21.81%

20.92%

3,691 homes sold

3,567 homes sold

Studying the stats +8.12% average increase in sales price in six ZIP codes

9.51%

9.5%

22.46%

23.84%

average increase in homes sold in four ZIP codes with gains

+6.1%

20.13%

21.38%

1.93%

1.54%

SOURCE: BETTER HOMES AND GARDENS REAL ESTATE GARY GREENECOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

9

CONROE  MONTGOMERY EDITION • JULY 2020

REAL ESTATE 2020EDITION

DEVELOPMENT UPDATES

Developments underway in Conroe & Montgomery

COMPILED BY EVA VIGH

TWILIGHT TOAST DR.

45

830

336

45

.

SILVER SKY ST.

N

N

COURTESY THE WOODLANDS HILLS

COURTESY GRAND CENTRAL PARK

THEWOODLANDS HILLS The Woodlands Hills is a 2,000-acre forested master-planned community developed by The Howard Hughes Corp., located near I-45 in Conroe and Willis. Homebuilders in The Woodlands Hills include Century Communities, Chesmar Homes, David Weekley Homes, Gehan Homes, Highland Homes, Ravenna Homes and Westin Homes. The development will bring more than 4,500 homes to the area. As of June 30 there are 122 homes under construction. Space: 2,000 acres Timeline: build-out in 2030-35

GRAND CENTRAL PARK Grand Central Park opened in 2017 in southwest Conroe. The master-planned community is developed by Johnson Development Corp. Over 400 homes have been built in this 2,046-acre, master-planned community as of June, and about 35 homes are under construction. The new Central Village neighborhood opened in January, and 200 homesites will be built in Phase 1. Space: 2,046 acres Timeline: build-out in 2025

F C O A S T R D .

RELENTLESS DR.

1314

242

LARKHAVEN DR.

N

N

COURTESY WOODFOREST

EVA VIGHCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

WOODFOREST The Woodforest development has several communities in various stages of construction. Noble Greens, developed by Huntington Homes, has 39 homesites ranging in size from 65-75 feet wide priced from the $530,000s. The presale of models began in March. The neighborhood is expected to open in the fall at 109 Larkhaven Drive, Montgomery. In total, the Woodforest development has 3,400 homes sold but is aiming for 5,500 at buildout. Space: 3,000-acre development Timeline: opened July 2009, home sales possible through 2025

KEYSTONE DEVELOPMENT At its May 28 meeting, Conroe City Council approved the creation of three municipal utility districts for a development that is set to bring more than 12,000 homes to the area. The Keystone development will be located o Hwy. 242. The development will cater to single-family residences with lot sizes between 50-60 feet wide and prices ranging from $250,000-$350,000. There is also space on the property set aside for commercial development and a multifamily residence. Space: 3,074-acre development Timeline: Phase 1 to break ground in 2021

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10

COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

REAL ESTATE 2020EDITION

GUIDE

A guide to home and garden projects with advice from local businesses

HOME IMPROVEMENT &MAINTENANCE 2020 Conroe | Montgomery

COMPILED BY ANDY LI

3

Kimberly Duckett, a Montgomery-based Realtor with ONE Property Group, oers four simple projects to do at home this summer.

1

SIMPLE HOME PROJECTS

1 Organize a closet space With more time at home, Duckett suggested homeowners could take time decluttering their closets. She suggested nding consistent ways of organizing items, either by color, length or season. Duckett said it is also a perfect time to donate clothing to charitable organizations, so keep a donation bin or bag handy. 2 Update hardware To revamp a bathroom or kitchen area, Duckett suggested updating the hardware in the room—either by changing the material from brushed nickel to bronze or brass or even changing the style to a knob, pull, cup or shaker. 3 Prepare guest areas Some homeowners may want to revisit and improve guest areas in a house

during the summer months. Duckett said homeowners can change the faucets and showerheads in the most visited bathrooms such as

2

4

half-baths, primary bathrooms, and kitchen or guest bathrooms. However, she said it is important to have these faucets and showerheads match the hardware in these areas. 4 Change the outside appearance To brighten up the outdoor face of a house, Duckett recommended homeowners apply a fresh coat of paint or change palettes with a newer, fresher color. She said this can also apply to the front door of a home, which can be stained with a new shade. Homeowners may also consider installing a new doorknob and hardware.

KimberlyDuckett 302 John A Butler St., Montgomery 936-648-7450 www.har.com/kduckett

T .

JOHN A BUTLER ST.

N

MAKE A GARDEN

TIPS FOR CHOOSING A CONTAINER

CONTAINER TYPES CAN INCLUDE: • half wooden barrels, buckets or baskets • old bathtubs, galvanized metal tubs, or other tubs or troughs

The bigger the better—larger containers allow for larger root systems and larger plants as well as holding more water for hot days.

• hanging baskets are a good use of extra space and can be used for plants such as herbs or cherry tomatoes

POPULAR VEGETABLES TO GROW

CARE TIPS

• zucchini squash • bush beans

• carrots • beets • radishes • tomatoes • peppers

Watch and treat for insects as needed. Support “climbing” vegetables with cages, twine or a trellis. Liquid fertilizer should be “fed” to plants at least twice per month.

Add about an inch of coarse gravel in the bottom of containers to improve drainage. Plants need at least ve hours of sunlight per day and may need to be watered once or twice per day.

• cabbage • lettuce

• chards

SOURCE: THE OLD FARMER’S ALMANACCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

14602 FM 1097 Road West | Willis, TX | 936-856-5590 www.GaryGreene.com

©2019 Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate LLC. A Realogy Company. All Rights Reserved. Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate LLC fully supports the principles of the Fair Housing Act and the Equal Opportunity Act. Each Office is Independently Owned and Operated. Better Homes and Gardens, the Better Homes and Garden Real Estate logo are registered service marks owned by Meredith Corporation and licensed to Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate LLC.

11

CONROE  MONTGOMERY EDITION • JULY 2020

Your success is our priority. Close. Flexible. Affordable. Lone Star College.

06.09.20.04

REAL ESTATE 2020EDITION

INSIDE INFORMATION

COMPILED BY ANNA LOTZ

When interest rates are low, homeowners may look to save money by renancing, which means getting a new mortgage with a better term or interest rate to lower payments. Mortgage rates have steadily declined since November 2018, according to weekly data from Freddie Mac, also known as the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. Matt Frankel, a certied nancial planner and mortgage analyst at The Ascent by Motley Fool—a general personal nance advice resource—shared advantages and disadvantages of the renancing process. REFINANCING U N D E R S T A N D I N G WHAT TOCONSIDER 1. 2. Is the current market rate at least 1% lower than your existing mortgage rate? Are you planning to stay in the same home for at least 5 more years ?

HOWTO START

• Always consult multiple lenders to nd the best mortgage rate. Start with a current lender. • Multiple inquiries from mortgage lenders aect an individual’s credit score no more than a single inquiry , Frankel said.

Renancing isn’t free. … It becomes amath problemof whether the savings you’re going to get fromyourmortgage payment are going to bemore than you’re paying.

MATT FRANKEL, MORTGAGE ANALYST AT THE ASCENT

TRACKINGMORTGAGE RATES

Pros • Can lower monthly mortgage payments • May eliminate private mortgage insurance Cons • Can be costly, as homeowners must pay lender and closing fees again • Paperwork THE INS ANDOUTS OF REFINANCING

Although the U.S. weekly average rate for a 30-year mortgage is trending downward, mortgage rates vary by credit score, Frankel said.

0 3.1% 3.2% 3.3% 3.4% 3.5% 3.6% 3.7% 3.8% 3.9%

3.72%

3.73%

3.33%

3.64%

ANOTHER OPTION

3.03%

A homeowner can also choose cash-out renancing, meaning an existing mortgage is replaced with a new home loan totaling more than the remaining debt. The dierence is paid in cash and can be helpful in paying other debts, as a mortgage is often the lowest-interest loan available, Frankel said.

3.0% June 27, 2019 Sept. 26, 2019

Jan. 2, 2019

April 9, 2020

July 9, 2020

SOURCE: FREDDIE MACCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

REAL ESTATE 2020EDITION

CONTINUED FROM 1

TREND2

OPEN HOUSES GO VIRTUAL

“BEINGONEOFTHEONLYTHINGS LEFT

As coronavirus restrictions forced many to hunker down, the real estate industry had to nd ways to buy and sell homes virtu- ally, said Vicki Fullerton, the former chair of the Texas Association of Realtors and Houston Association of Realtors. HAR suspended the posting of in-person open houses on har.com eective March 20 and reinstated themMay 18 per Gov. Greg Abbott’s Phase 2 reopening plan. In the interim, Realtors shifted to promoting virtual open houses and showings, Fullerton said. “It has completely restructured how we are doing business,” she said in late May. Appointments for property showings initially fell as coronavirus restrictions took eect. In the week of April 28-May 4, the Greater Houston area had 40,045 appointments for property showings—a 10% decrease from the previous year, according to HAR.com. But as virtual appointments became more common, these numbers increased, reaching 47,588 showing appointments the week end- ing June 22, according to HAR.com. BetweenMay 5-11, the Greater Houston area had 241 virtual open houses with 1,330 attendees, according to HAR.com. Property showing appointments are rising as more consumers are seeing homes virtually as well as taking advantage of less restrictive stay-at- home orders and physically touring homes on the market. APPOINTMENTS FORPROPERTYSHOWINGS

LAKECONROEHAS BEENAGETAWAYFORMANYPEOPLE.” TIM CADE, LIEUTENANT, MONTGOMERY COUNTY PRECINCT 1 CONSTABLE’S OFFICE

HOMEBUYERS EYE LAKE CONROE FOR VACATION GETAWAY, SECOND HOME TREND3

Lake Conroe is trending as a destination for homeowners seeking a second home, said Jerry Santiago, a Realtor with Better Homes and Gardens Gary Greene in Spring. Santiago said June 22 that in the past month, he had two such customers close on Lake Conroe waterfront homes, and a third is under contract. Boating was important to the buyers, he said. “Because of COVID[-19], they wanted a second home,” he said. “In all three cases, a boat lift was a very important part of the search.” And while summer is usually peak buy- ing time, certain lakefront neighborhoods have seen a surprising uptick this year, San- tiago said. For instance, the Walden lake- front community had 37 home closings and 69 properties under contract in the last 30 days, Santiago said.

Although last year’s pending and under-contract data is no longer available, Santiago said this year’s information still shows 2.53 months of inventory—a mea- surement of how long existing supply can feed housing demand—in Walden. A bal- anced market is considered six months of inventory, he said. “That’s a super strong seller’s market,” he said. According to lake ocials, lake activity has increased during the pandemic. “There is nothing normal about lake activities at all this year,” said Lt. Tim Cade with the Montgomery County Precinct 1 Constable’s Oce. “In all my years working Lake Conroe, I’ve never seen it to be as busy as we have been since March. Being one of the only things left untouched and open, it’s been a getaway for many people.”

2020 2019 PROPERTY SHOWINGS IN CONROEMONTGOMERY AREA

April 28 -May 4

May 5- May 11

May 12- May 18

May 19- May 25

May 26- June 1

June 2- June 8

June 9- June 15

June 16- June 22

SOURCE: HOUSTON ASSOCIATION OF REALTORSCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

TREND4

HOUSES WITHWORKSPACE IN DEMAND AS STAYING AT HOME BECOMES NORM

“I THINK THE WALLS STARTED TO CAVE IN ON A LOT OF PEOPLE, AND THEY FELT THE NEED TO MAYBE FIND LARGER HOUSES WITH A LITTLE BIT MORE SPACE.” HEATH MELTON, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT OF MPC RESIDENTIAL FOR THE HOWARD HUGHES CORP.

The pandemic has forced many Conroe and Mont- gomery residents to spend more time at home. Realtors and developers said they are noticing home- buyers searching for more oce space to work from home and space for their children to do schoolwork as well as yards and access to trails. “I think the walls started to cave in on a lot of peo- ple, and they felt the need tomaybe nd larger houses with a little bit more space,” said Heath Melton, exec- utive vice president of MPC Residential for the How- ard Hughes Corp., which is the developer for The Woodlands Hills. A total of 73 homes have sold in the community this year as of June 28 compared to 58 at the same time last year. In June, 14 homes were sold—twice the number sold in June 2019.

In some cases, the ability to oer more space helped oset some of the subdued home sales that were seen statewide. Woodforest along Fish Creek Thoroughfare, developed by Houston-based John- son Development Corp., sold just 19 fewer homes than last year to date, at 172 sales so far this year, Mar- keting Director Faith Pitman said in June. “We were expecting a hiccup in sales, but we did

not see that happen here,” Pitman said. “I rmly believe it’s because Woodforest … oers so much space, so there was room to roam.”

Find related stories at communityimpact.com . Keyword search real estate, coronavirus, Lake Conroe

15

CONROE  MONTGOMERY EDITION • JULY 2020

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16

COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

REAL . LOCAL . SAVINGS .

NONPROFIT

Yes to Youth volunteers sort donations and cleaning supplies for its shelter to help homeless youth. (Photos courtesy Yes to Youth)

See how much you could save on car insurance today.

Yes to Youth Conroe nonprot reaches fundraising milestone, adjusts services amid pandemic

A Conroe nonprot has hit a fundraising milestone to continue serving homeless youth in Montgomery County. Yes to Youth, formerly named Montgomery County Youth Services, has raised $4 million of its $4.2 million fundraising goal to expand its Bridgeway campus on North Frazier Street in Conroe with two new facilities, according to Chief Operating Ocer Penny Wilson. These facilities would add 15 beds to the shelter’s existing 15-bed capacity. Yes to Youth expects to complete the building by January 2021. Wilson said fundraising during the pandemic has been dicult—the nonprot had to cancel its 20th annual Ladies Night Out in April—but the community has still shown up in the ways it can. “We know things are tough in the community, but a lot of people are still supporting nonprots, which is really awesome and encouraging,” Wilson said. Yes to Youth oers support for families and youth in crisis, oering counseling and support services in addition to its 15-person emergency shelter for youth. During the quaran- tine, Wilson said the shelter housed about 10 children and adolescents. BY ANDY LI

She said the shelter had to adapt to not only continue helping the young people it housed, but also to oer counseling services. “The kids have somebody in person there every day to talk to and process what they’re going through,” Wilson said. “They already have a lot of inner trauma and things that they were already dealing with before COVID[-19]. And now they have stress and anxiety to deal [with].” Wilson said the shelter was able to move its counseling services to telehealth and limited visitors and volunteers coming to the shelter. As schools begin to release guidelines for instruction in the fall, Wilson said the sta will adapt its role from organizing a child’s schedule to being more of a tutor. The shelter will determine the best option for its youth returning to school in the fall as more information comes out, she said. Wilson said the most important thing the community can do is spread the word about the shelter and its services. With children out of school and families quarantining, Wilson said abuse reports have gone down because they are now harder to see and report. “We’re here to listen and help people process,” Wilson said.

713-224-3426 1403 Spring Cypress Rd Spring

The shelter oers a safe home for youth.

HOWTOHELP Yes to Youth encourages the

community to support its mission to oer counseling, shelter and prevention services to youth and families across Montgomery County. Residents can help by:

Providing meals

Spreading awareness

Donating cleaning supplies

Saving people money on more than just car insurance. ®

Donating money

YES TOYOUTH 105 W. Lewis St., Conroe 936-756-8682 www.sayyestoyouth.org

Some discounts, coverages, payment plans and features are not availableinallstates, inallGEICOcompanies,orinallsituations.Boat and PWC coverages are underwritten by GEICO Marine Insurance Company. Homeowners, renters and condo coverages are written through non-affiliated insurance companies and are secured through the GEICO Insurance Agency, Inc. Motorcycle and ATV coverages are underwritten by GEICO Indemnity Company. GEICO is a registered service mark of Government Employees Insurance Company, Washington, D.C. 20076; a Berkshire Hathaway Inc. subsidiary. GEICO Gecko image © 1999-2019. © 2019 GEICO

W . L E W I S S T .

NUGENT ST.

N

17

CONROE  MONTGOMERY EDITION • JULY 2020

LEARNING OPTIONS I N T E X A S

The Texas Education Agency released guidelines June 23 regarding how school districts receiving funding from the state could oer learning in 2020-21. Districts can oer a combination of the methods, Commissioner Mike Morath said June 23. Further remote learning changes would be up to the Legislature.

ONCAMPUS LEARNING

• Real-time, virtual scheduled instruction • Grades 3-12 eligible • Attendance taken daily at a specic time • District must sign and post an attestation of REMOTE SYNCHRONOUS INSTRUCTION

REMOTE ASYNCHRONOUS INSTRUCTION • Participants not virtually present at the same time • All grades eligible • Attendance taken through daily engagement • Districts can submit plans beginning

• Traditional classroom instruction • All grades eligible • Attendance taken daily at a specic time

how it will serve students • Grading consistent with on-campus grading

July 15 for TEA approval • Grading consistent with on-campus grading

SOURCE: TEXAS EDUCATION AGENCYCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

COMMUNITY C O N C E R N S Conroe ISD surveyed its community in mid-June, before the recent surge of coronavirus cases, to nd out what parents and guardians wanted when the school year begins in August. If state law allowed school districts to give parents a choice about the type of schooling their child receives for the 2020-21 school year, what type would you pick?

activities as well as daily check-ins with teachers. Synchronous learning means students may attend virtual classes with other students and teachers in real time. “There may be some days that we would ask those students to come in and go to a lab, or come do some hands-on activities,” Null said. Online instruction will be more rigorous than distance education in the spring, Null said during a YouTube livestream June 29. He said materials were condensed in the spring, but online education in the fall will mirror in-person instruction. CISD sta is anticipating a drop in student aca- demic performance due to the distance education in the spring, Null said. But he said sta began crafting plans to mitigate that drop by incorporating the top- ics covered in the spring into fall instruction. At a June 16 meeting, interim Montgomery ISD Superintendent Ann Dixon said the district will also oer a remote option that is as rigorous as in-person school, and students will be required to attend 420 minutes of school per day. WISD parents and guardians may choose between on-campus and remote learning. Remote learning will be more structured than the distance education held during the spring, and it will feature daily atten- dance checks and graded assignments that mirror on-campus instruction. Students must be prepared to switch to remote learning if a campus or classroom needs to shut down for health concerns, ocials said.

CONTINUED FROM 1

several unknowns remain about instruction, health regulations and logistics. Gov. Greg Abbott announced June 18 students will return to campuses in the fall. The TEA released additional guidelines July 7, which include giving parents options for on-campus and virtual classes, complying with the governor’s mask orders and clos- ing o areas used by peoplewith lab-conrmed cases of COVID-19. However, district ocials said they are juggling several options this fall. “We’ve been planning all along to have a face- to-face option as well as an online option,” CISD Superintendent Curtis Null said. “And so it basically conrmed our plan and let us know that we were on the right track all along.” Even as districts attempt to form plans for the school year, parents said they are conicted. “I just want what is best for my babies, but I’m not even sure what that is right now,” Willis ISD parent Mindy Mileski said in a Facebook comment below a WISD post. Class in virtual session CISD is oering both in-person and remote learning this fall. CISD’s remote learning will be an asynchronous model that includes synchronous learning, according to its website. The asynchronous model means students will complete work at their own paces through prerecorded lessons and other

In-person school week and calendar Traditional: 75.48%

19,150

Full-time rigorous distance-learning online model (minimum of 420 minutes of daily instruction/activities) Distance learning: 24.52% 6,220

For the start of the 2020-21 school year, which pose the greatest concern(s)? Select all that apply. (The top three concerns are listed here.)

Hygiene/access to hand sanitizer: 64.55%

16,148

Bathroom/water fountain cleanliness: 58.87% 14,726

Class size: 57.95%

14,497

SOURCE: CONROE ISDCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

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