While many homeowners who want to move out of their flooded homes and can afford to move are leaving, there are still many who want to move but stay because their mortgage is underwater and they can’t afford to leave. Year-end data collected by ATTOM show that the number of homes with seriously underwater mortgages (loan-to-value ratio of 125 or more) in Houston rose by 3 percent from the third quarter to the fourth quarter for the metro area as a whole — although the number was still down by 24 percent from a year ago. But one of the big ticket items that really changed Amuchastegui’s mind about investing in Houston was the

rising cost of flood insurance — as much as $500 a month per home for someone like him who takes out a commercial loan to purchase as many as 10 homes at a time. “It makes it no longer feasible for us from a rental investor standpoint there,” he said. “Some of my friends are still buying there but they aren’t buying where there’s a chance it might flood.” While individual investors may buy one at a time, repair and sell, HomeRock’s usual buying strategy is that for every 10 homes they buy they sell two or three on the open market through the Multiple Listing Service. The rest of the homes they keep as rental properties.

An ATTOM buy-versus-rent analysis for 2018 shows that the affordability to rent a three-bedroom property in Harris County — the most populated county in the Houston metro area — will worsen as the average rent for a three-bedroom home rises 9.3 percent Builder Confidence High Despite the overstock of apartment buildings in the area, there is new construction proceeding, with both mixed use and strictly residential high-rises in the downtown district. But there are also new single family homes under construction in the metro area. CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE  to $1,565 a month while average weekly wages decrease slightly.



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