Thursday, May 12, 2011

Let's Take A Look At The Tribute Lakeside Golf and Resort in The Colony, TX, shall we?

I recently received an email about The Tribute Lakeside Golf and Resort Community (you can read the press release below) and thought I'd look into it. You know, since real estate is kinda my thing. It's located in The Colony, which is considered far far far away from us lazy Dallasites, and is located on 1,150-acres on Lake Lewisville. That's quite the spread. According to the website, there are two premier 18-hole golf courses, parks, pools, gardens and playgrounds. Apparently there are also plans to build an elementary school in the future.

The developer is Matthews Southwest which is responsible for turning the historic 1913 Sears and Roebuck building into the very successful and very hip Southside on Lamar; a thriving residential, arts and entertainment area. Matthews Southwest is also the developer for the highly anticipated and Omni operated Dallas Convention Center Hotel. You certainly can't argue with their resume. Plus, they're based here in Dallas, and we like that.

There looks to be seven home builders building homes in the Tribute from the $240's all the way to over $1M. That's quite ambitious given the location, however, the Lake Lewisville location will certainly attract a lot of interest simply due to the lack of waterfront property in North Texas. Sure, there is Highland Village and Little Elm, but they don't have The Colony's decent toll road and 121 access - and IKEA and Stonebriar Mall are nearby, as well.

I'll be keeping an eye on The Tribute to see how it fairs over the coming years. On the surface, it reminds me a lot of the much larger, 2,500-acre Castle Hills community and the much smaller and Croatian inspired, 45-acre Adriatica in McKinney. Both of these communities were developed with a particular theme in mind; unlike the somewhat generic Stonebridge Ranch community in McKinney. The Tribute is clearly going for the Old World theme. Now the question is, will people buy into it?

Golf Course Real Estate still has a Pulse in the Heart of Texas

For many, it’s the American Dream: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of… Golf Course Living. In 2011, the first Baby Boomers turn 65 and the demand for golf course real estate in Sunbelt states will likely skyrocket as Boomers look for homes in a climate conducive to their hobby.

But those who have long dreamed of living adjacent to fairways and greens could be disappointed. Development of a golf course community is exceedingly rare in this slumping economy. After almost two decades during which new golf course communities spread like wildfire across the Sunbelt, both the real estate and golf industries have suffered major setbacks.

In 2010, builders started on 15,000 homes in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, according to Ted Wilson of Residential Strategies, Inc. That’s down nearly 70% from the 51,000 housing starts in 2006.

New golf course construction has also taken a major hit. The overbuilding of courses in the 90’s and early 00’s oversaturated the market. When the recession descended upon the industry, many courses were forced to close, some in the middle of construction.

With every rule, however, there is an exception. In 2010, only one course opened in The Metroplex. What vaults this course from exception to veritable anomaly is it is part of a residential community.

The Old American Golf Club, located in The Colony’s The Tribute Resort Community, opened its doors to public play in September 2010. In addition to fairways, greens, bunkers and water hazards, The Old American features brand new residential lots alongside select sections of the course and dozens more just off it. In the desert that is the current landscape of new golf course development, The Tribute is an oasis, affording golfers the opportunity to live alongside the game they love.

The Old American and The Tribute were brought to life by Matthews Southwest, a DFW-based developer that has transformed The Metroplex’s real estate market through urban redevelopment and suburban lifestyle development. In The Tribute, Matthews Southwest saw the opportunity to deliver a suburban community where people could enjoy their hobbies right outside their front door. The community’s location on the shores of Lewisville Lake, combined with The Old American and The Tribute Golf Club (opened in 2005), has provided residents with access to golf, boating and fishing.

Even in the down economy, builders and homeowners have pounced on the opportunity The Tribute presents. Matthews Southwest reported a more than 100 percent year-over-year increase in residential lot sales at The Tribute in 2010. The community’s 1,150 acres showcase many of North Texas’ most prominent and distinguished builders, offering home designs that emphasize the Old World-themed atmosphere of The Tribute and begin in the 240’s.

As Baby Boomers and golf enthusiasts search for a place to live in harmony with the game they love, they may be hard up as developers and builders continue to tighten purse strings. However, The Tribute serves as proof that golf course real estate still has a pulse in the Heart of Texas.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Short Sale vs. Foreclosure: What Are Your Options?

Let me give you a very common real estate scenario, one I have encountered more frequently in the past several years.

Mr. Seller paid $350,000 for his home in 2006. He now wants to sell his home because he [got relocated/got married/wife had their 4th child]. As a real estate agent, I now have the awkward responsibility of telling him his home is currently worth $315,000 in today's real estate market. He then tells me he owes $340,000 on his mortgage and that he doesn't have the cash to bring to closing and asks me what his options are.

If the above scenario sounds familiar, you're not alone. So, here are your options:

1. Bring enough money to closing to cover your remaining mortgage, plus closing costs. For example, you owe $340,000 on your mortgage but you can only sell your home for $310,000. You are responsible for the $30,000 difference, plus closing costs.

2. If #1 isn't an option, then you need to consider staying in your home until you are in a position to sell your home without bringing money to closing. Or, if you have to move you can choose to rent out your home until you're in a better financial position.

3. If neither of the above options sound good to you - you don't have much cash but you HAVE to sell your home and don't want to rent it out - then you need to consider a short sale. Meaning, you need to negotiate with your mortgage company and ask them to cover any shortage in paying off your mortgage after your home sells. Basically, this is like option #1, except you're asking the bank to cover the $30,000 shortage, plus your closing costs. This will negatively affect your credit, and most short sales are huge headaches and can take many months to close, but you will be able to move on to the next chapter in your life without taking a huge financial loss.

4. Just walk away. Many homeowners have chosen to simply walk away from their home and let go into foreclosure. This will negatively affect your credit more so than a short sale, but you won't have to deal with the headache of a short sale, or the ensuing months of paying a mortgage on a home you can no longer afford - or no longer want. This option is very attractive to the rich. e.g. 'Why keep paying on a home that is depleting my bank account and has lost over 50% of it's value since I bought it? Let the bank deal with that headache!' Having enough cash to get them through the next 7 years while their credit score recovers is also helpful.

Our real estate market will continue to force many people to choose between the scenarios I have outlined above. And every one's situation is going to be different. You need to decide what works best given your current financial situation. Talking openly and honestly with your real estate agent is the best advice I can give you. I make decisions based on the information my clients give me. If you tell me you're not in a hurry to sell and you're financially comfortable, then my advice will be much different than if you told me you needed to sell in the next 45 days or you will no longer be able to pay your mortgage, car payment, etc. Unfortunately, people tend to tell me the former, when the truth looks more like the latter.