This may be jumping the gun a little, but it usually takes me a month or so to I know, I’m obsessed with lawn care. Please bear with me.
Before 2021, I always believed here in Texas we didn’t have to worry quite so much about preparing our lawns for winter. Now I realize we need to fortify them as much almost as much as the northern states, because we’re just one massive freeze away from years of progress being destroyed.
1) Continue Usual Maintenance – Don’t stop mowing and weeding, and keep raking leaves up through the fall. It will allow the waning sunlight to reach the grass, and there will be less leaf to turn brown during the winter. And for God’s sake, don’t stop watering, even in the winter.
2) Ready the Pre-Emergent Herbicide – The early fall (now) is the perfect time to apply an herbicide to stop the spread of weeds and dandelions. Recent EPA regulations have outlawed weed killers that kill man stubborn weeds in North Texas (don’t get me started on why…). A preemergent herbicide will sterilize the weeds so they won’t grow back in the spring… provided we have a nice, cold winter.
3) Additional Fertilizing – When mid-late October approaches, it’ll be a good time to apply additional high-nitrogen lawn fertilizer to your lawn. It’s about to experience what could be an extended period of dormancy, but you need to make sure the roots are strong and run deep. I use Scott’s Bonus-S at the advice of my local Home Depot guru, but I can’t say that’s the best.
4) Know What’s Best for Your Lawn – Without going into details, there are pre-emergents and fertilizers that work great for bermuda grass, but kill St. Augustine on contact, and conversely. Also be mindful of the forecast. Some treatments do not work properly above certain temperatures, and if there is a heavy rain in the forecast it’s pointless to sprinkle anything on your lawn.
The summer of 2022 has been brutal, and according to the Farmer’s Almanac we’re in store for a particularly cold winter. We’ll have our standard 3 weeks of beautiful DFW fall weather, followed by rain, wind and cold. Before the oven becomes a freezer put yourself to work outside and prepare.
Paint, Stain & Reseal – This covers a lot of items. The Texas summer is murder on paint, wood, caulk and sealant, especially south-facing surfaces. The winter moisture will exploit 0this, so make sure the house, fence, and decks are painted/restained and the caulked and sealed surfaces and cracks are stripped and re-sealed. This could take days; always handle the sealing/caulking first!
Replace Old Windows – Window seals are the same as all the others. The heat causes them to expand, the cold contract and lose their seals. Broken seals are typically more unsightly than inefficient, but enough of them can mean higher bills.
Clean the Gutters – Can’t be overstated the damage standing water in your gutters can do to your house, and in extreme cases it can cause the gutters to collapse. A ladder and a blower can save you thousands.
Add Insulation – Every 10-15 years your insulation compacts to the point where it needs to be supplemented. There are instances where it just makes sense to drain all the existing insulation and just start over, especially if you have rodents or squirels in the attic.
Service Your Furnace – As important as servicing your air conditioner is to keeping you cold, servicing your furnace keeps you from dying. Gas leaks can kill.
Fireplace Maintenance – It’s hard to imagine a roaring fire while it’s 100 degrees outside, but before you know it you’ll be wanting one. Make sure the dampers function properly, repair damaged masonry or brickwork, and climb on the roof to in-spect your chimney cap if you have one. If you heard birds chirping up ther during the spring, there may be a flamable abaondoned nest in the chimney!
Inspired by the British Arts & Crafts movement and beginning in the later years of the 1800’s, American Craftsman represented a departure from the ornamentation of the Victorian Style and urban grit of the Industrial Revolution, embracing a return to countryside simplicity. It began in Southern California and spread from 1900-1929 throughout the United States, most common in California and the midwest.
Craftsman homes feature low-pitched, gabled roofs, with overhanging eaves and exposed rafters, signature front porches and tapered columns, large bay windows, and stone or stucco accents. They are almost always painted wood siding, typically with cedar shaker shingles.
Not only is the craftsman style still extremely popular with smaller-sized new construction today, thanks to their quality build they are a common target for renovators, although their small size often warrants signficant additions.
After 2 years of inventory halfing year-over-year, the number of houses for sale is climbing rapidly and I couldn’t be happier. “But John, you stalwart yet sensitive archetype of masculinity,” I hear you ask, “isn’t this a sign prices are going to ‘adjust’?” Well, dedicated reader, I certainly don’t have a crystal ball, but even if listing inventory were to double for the next 2 years we would still be in a market similar to 2019. Was that a great year for real estate? No, but it was certainly above average. Also, consider the fact we only have 2 months of inventory. That would multipy by 3 and we’d still only be at the border of a buyers and sellers market. See the graph below which reinforces my point. We’ve got a long way to go to even get close to 2019.
It’s quite possible interest rates will end up in the 7’s by year’s end. I wouldn’t necessarily call this permanent, although since 1971 the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate is right at 8%, and once inflation is tamped down (we’re nowhere near that) they’re likely to settle, hopefully sub-5 but probably not. This is all just my speculation.
I’ve started using median numbers instead of averages on page 2 of the newsletter. After a heated discussion with one of the statisticians at Texas A&M (never argue statistics with a statistician) I’ve decided to make the change because averages tend to exagerate statistics. Also, the powers that be stopped breaking down DFW home sales into single-family, condos and townhomes so the information I’m able to supply is going to be somewhat dimished. Make all the A&M jokes you want in lieu of this information.
It would appear the eruption has ended, at least for now.
There is still an ungodly amount of money pouring in from California, the land where people sold their shanties for $2 million and threw it around like Monopoly Money on the DFW market. But with skyrocketing interest rates comes diminished home affordability. And it needs to calm down, at least for a time, before Dallas turns into California.
Above graph for the DFW metroplex and affordability. It measures the median home price in a given area relative to what the typical family can afford with a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage. An index of 100 means the average family can afford the median sales price. We were once at twice that number, now we’re at .75. Dallas was historically one of the more undervalued markets in the United States. Unfortunately those days are over. All the way through 2013 DFW was a very cheap place to live. Now the number hovers around .75.
Interest rates are going to continue to affect affordability, at least for we mere mortals who have not just sold our shanties for $2 million. As of 6/23, a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is hovering around 6.125%. Still below the historic average of around 8%, but expect them to be up around 7% by the end of summer. In short, the days of cheap money are over.
This has to be the hottest June I can remember. We all must consider the last several years, while humid, have been compartatively mild. We’ve had 6 days over 100 as of 6/22. In all of 2021 we had 8 days, 2020 9, 2019 14 and 2018 23. The record was 71 set in 2011. Here’s to hoping we don’t set any records moving foward, although I’ll take dry heat over humidity.
You know that time when you’re about to sneeze when your body has pulled in so much air your lungs are about to explode but before the actual sneeze? That’s what the May 2022 market felt like. Is it the pause before the market crash? Will prices suddenly come falling back to Earth? Will the house you just bought in March suddenly lost 20% of it’s value.
The market has absolutely calmed down since interest rates began to rise towards more historic norms (remember, the average interest rate for a 30-year fixed is 8%), and it’s causing buyers sticker shock. Will this last? No. I’m giving it 6 weeks before people remember they need a home.
The geniuses who predicted “transitory” inflation are now giving us a 50/50 chance of hitting a recession before 2024. A recession is technically defined as 2 consecutive quarters of negative Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth. The US GDP contracted by 1.4% in the first quarter of 2022, I’d speculate we’re in the middle of a recession. How long it continues I don’t know.
“But John, you trustworthy yet mysterious renaissance man,” I hear you ask, “surely a recession will cause the market to correct.”. Well, dear reader, there are quite a few different types of buyers out there, and many of them view real estate a safer investment than the stock market right now, and they’re putting their money into it. There are also buyers about whom I’ve discussed ad nauseum, namely buyers who sold their Malibu CA shanty for $2.5 million and are giddy with the affordability of DFW real estate. Without them, higher interest rates and an economic recession would likely send DFW into at least a static market.
As I’m writing this, it’s been 24 hours since the shooting in Uvalde. If you’re able, I’m sure there will be relief charities for the families of the victims. If you hear of any, please let me know and I’ll share it on social media. I don’t often chime in social media during tragedies, I’ve learned emotional comments tend not to age well.