Gynell's Blog

Bellaire, is a City incorporated 100 years ago in 1918, in the Houston market area.  A recent article by 24/7 Wall St. on richest towns in each state declared Bellaire as the wealthiest suburb for Texas where the typical household earns $187,895 a year, the most of any town in Texas, and more than triple the median income of $54,727 across the state.  While Houston is well known for its lack of zoning, Bellaire, although surrounded by the City of Houston does have zoning. 

In his recent blog post, the Mayor of Bellaire, Andrew Friedberg wrote “We knew a year ago we’d emerge stronger than ever, and indeed we have”.  This is in remembrance of the devastating damage Bellaire endured approximately one year ago from Hurricane Harvey.   The Houston Chronicle reported about one-third of the approximately 6,500 homes in Bellaire sustained structural damage in the August 2017 flooding.  A combination of Topography and proximity to the Bray’s Bayou Watershed has been the main source of flooding in this area during severe rain events even prior to Hurricane Harvey.  The City has been working alongside, the City of Houston and FEMA on elevation standards and flood control infrastructure.  The City has been applying for grant funding from various disaster recovery and mitigation programs to help elevate the residences but recently reported that they were turned down due to being too wealthy a community to qualify. 

Bellaire’s recovery can be analyzed through its residential market, comparing the past year to prior years.  The following is a trend analysis for the Bellaire Area from January 1st to December 31st over the past several years.  This includes closed sales of single family residences except for sales sold at lot value. 

Year to date, in 2018, there have been 145 closed sales, with a median sales price of $975,000.  Based on the market data, despite the occurrences of flooding in this area, the market trends indicate steady volume with minimal but consistent growth in values.  Homes priced properly in this market typically sell within 60 days.  The momentum of the residential real estate in this affluent market seems almost extraneous to the Category 4 hurricane from only a year ago.

Bellaire is a mix of older resale homes and recently built homes.  Newer built homes are higher priced, typically larger and contain superior interior fit and finish than the older homes.  The recent flooding further escalated older homes being razed in favor of new construction.  New Custom construction and speculative built homes are scattered throughout the area with a wide variance in price due to lot prices and quality of construction.  This trend of redevelopment is expected to continue into the foreseeable future. The following table highlights the sales of older residences sold at lot value over the last several years.

For homes sold at lot value in the Bellaire area, year to date in 2018 there have already been 48 closed sales with a median sales price of $427,500 with median cumulative DOM of 71.  Currently there are 53 Active and Pending listings of lots with a median list price of $460,000 with median cumulative DOM of 180. This sharp increase in volume is indicative of the damage sustained in this area from Harvey.  Overall there appears to be a softening in this market and prices appear to be stabilizing with increased CDOM and market sentiment appears to be moving toward a buyers’ market.

The devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey was unprecedented and will be etched in the minds of Houstonians for a long time to come.  However, despite being one of the hardest hit neighborhoods in the Houston area, Bellaire’s residential real estate market has proven resilient and is well on its way to recovery in a considerably short period.  To reiterate the words of the Mayor “Bellaire is still Bellaire”.

For further market analysis of this and other Houston neighborhoods or to order a residential appraisal in this area contact our office at

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Should a Seller get a Pre-Listing Appraisal?

 The answer is Absolutely, Yes!!!  A Pre-Listing Appraisal is the most underutilized tool available to a Seller.  I am of the strong opinion that when considering the sale of a home, the first person to call should be a local Certified Appraiser.  That is where the process should begin.  A Pre-listing Appraisal is like preventive medicine that will avert costly problems down the road. 

For starters you quickly eliminate the Real Estate agents who claim they can get you the most money just to get your listing, knowing fully well it will need to be reduced eventually.  With the knowledge of the true market value of your home you interview and select a Realtor who will best market and facilitate the sale of your home.  

 Or flip that on you, the seller, passing up on the best Realtor because they suggest a lower price than what you think it should sell for.  An Appraiser is trained to look past the hype of just the highest sale in the neighborhood and will analyze numerous factors that impact the value of your home. 

A Pre-listing Appraisal is also about the best marketing tool to present to potential buyers.  Knowing that the value was determined by a third-party Professional will build confidence and reduce drawn out offers and counter offers.

But a lender will order an appraisal later, so why do I need one before listing my house?

 The lenders appraisal happens after you receive an offer and agree on a price with a buyer.  So, if your home was underpriced, you will be walking away from a significant amount of money with little recourse at that point.  If it was over-priced and you happen to get a contract on it, then the lender’s appraisal will come in low reflecting that the contract price is too high.  You now have all the parties with a financial interest in the property like the buyer, real estate agents, you the seller and even the loan officer, panicked and pointing fingers.  And due to a lot of misinformation floating around, mostly online, those fingers are usually pointed at the Appraiser.

 There are stringent guidelines Real Estate Appraisers follow from the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP), Fannie Mae’s Selling Guide and lender underwriting requirements in determining the market value of your home.  It is extremely unlikely that they would be dead wrong in their analysis and value.  Keep in mind, if the market doesn’t support the sales price, they’re fully aware that they have to be the one to blow the sale of your home.  And they’re not happy to be the bad guy in the scenario.

Why can’t a Real Estate agent come up with a price?

 Real Estate Agents are Sales People not Value Experts.  If you can find an intensely analytical Realtor, it is possible they could provide you with a value estimate similar to what a Pre-listing Appraisal would do.  However, they’re not easy to find and rightfully so.  

An appraiser will complete an in-depth analysis considering a multitude of factors like market conditions, quality, lot size, view, location, recent or past updates, remodeling, additions, garage conversions, outdoor amenities, positive or negative external factors, sales history, physical deterioration, functional obsolescence, marketing time and the list just keeps going on.  The result is market value or range of value that is well supported by the market. 

Why are Home Appraisals so Darn Expensive?

 During a Real Estate transaction there are plenty of costs, some paid by the Seller and some by the Borrower and the largest sums paid out on a commission basis.  However, while valuation is paramount, the fee of an appraiser is a fixed cost and the least expensive.
Depending on your views you may consider your home to be an asset, a liability or an investment.  But no matter the column you list it in, an educated financial decision regarding your largest investment/asset/liability is worth the cost. 

I’d also like to mention that for a Pre-listing Appraisal you shouldn’t need a full appraisal like the lenders require on Fannie Mae forms.  A General Purpose or Desktop Appraisal will suffice and cost considerably less, which could be as low as $250.

 Most Appraisers will gladly work with Sellers and Realtors at the beginning and can save a Seller considerable time and money down the road.  While you want to get max dollars from the sale of your home, the borrower wants to get the best deal possible, the realtors and often the loan officer are working on a commission, a third-party Appraiser without a monetary interest in the transaction can provide value in their unbiased analysis and determination of the true market value of your home. 

 I’m passionate about real estate and truly enjoying talking shop.  So feel free to reach out with question or comments via email or connect with me on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter

Posted by Gynell Vestal on October 5th, 2018 10:45 AMLeave a Comment

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September 3rd, 2018 6:03 PM

  Pearland is located just 10 miles south of Houston and Hobby airport, 11 miles west of the NASA Johnson Space Center and approximately 35 miles northwest of the Port of Galveston.  This suburban market of mostly tract developments covers approximately 39 square miles in a somewhat rectangular shape with most of the City located in Brazoria County and parts extending into Harris and Fort Bend counties. 

The Pearland Economic Development Corporation reported Pearland to be the fastest growing City in the Houston area, with a 142 percent increase in population from 91,000 residents in 2000. Developed for easy suburban life and land to spare, commercial and residential construction is noticeable all-around Pearland. The City reported issuing more commercial development permits in 2015 than any year previously. 

On the west side of Pearland is the most prominent master planned development, Shadow Creek Ranch. This is a 3,500-acre community with lakes, water park, pools, parks, trails, surrounded by a town square, hospitals, schools, business centers, nature park and a $10.1 million Sports Complex. 

MLS data studies indicate Pearland is a relatively stable market with consistent demand. A trend analysis for single family homes in Pearland from January 1st to December 31st for the past several years revealed the following:



Sales Volume

Median Sales Price


























Overall since 2012 home values and volume in Pearland have been on an incline except for 2017. This could be credited to the catastrophic flooding about one year ago from Hurricane Harvey. The MLS reported a total of 2138 sales in Pearland for the past one year; with median cumulative days on market of 22 and a median sales price of $262,000. This supports a reasonably healthy market that is active and steady. There are currently 461 offers for sale with a median list price of $315,000. Homes priced properly in this market in tandem with their true market value should typically sell within 30 days.

With its median home sale prices below $275,000 and relatively easy access to major employment hubs across Houston, Pearland is poised for continued growth into the foreseeable future. Some softening is predicted with market sentiment moving from a sellers’ market to a buyers’ market.

For further market analysis of this and other Houston neighborhoods or to order a residential appraisal in this area contact our office at Follow me on Twitter @gynellV


Things to Do in Pearland

The Sri Meekankshi Hindu Temple  

Kid ‘N Play indoor playground for children 

Bass Pro Shop

Pearland Golf Club

Pearland Recreation Center & Natatorium


August 27th, 2018 3:12 PM

Here’s a handy guide to getting ready for your home appraisal inspection.


ü  The appraiser is on a deadline to submit the report to the lender by the due date. And typically, in the spring and summer months they are booked solid. Returning calls promptly and making the property accessible as the appraiser requires, will help make this a smoother transaction. Typically, while the appraiser needs access to the property, they don’t usually require anyone to be present during the inspection.


ü  Let her (or him) know about any issues with the property or major updates, additions, remodels etc... This will help them to select the right comps.


ü  The appraiser may ask for you to provide them with a survey, executed purchase agreement or building plans and inquire about HOA and/or management company contact information, the phase of construction if appropriate. Having this information readily available for them will help avoid any delays.


ü  As a routine part of the inspection, the appraiser will test a sample of the mechanics and plumbing, so the electricity and water need to be turned on.


ü  Prior to the appraiser arriving, make sure the appropriate heating or cooling system is running, so the appraiser can confirm that these mechanics are operational.


ü  The appraiser will be taking pictures of all the rooms. Make sure all areas of the home are accessible and as a plus, leave all the lights on. Also remove all photographs of people from every room as this is an underwriting requirement.


ü  Upon arrival they will inspect, measure and take pictures of the exterior and then enter the home to complete the sketch and floor plan to include any upstairs living area, photograph all the rooms, test a sample of mechanics and plumbing.


And that is it. Easy breezy. The appraisal inspection of your home is complete. From there they will move on to survey the neighborhood for external factors, take pictures of comparable properties and work on the report.

In case of a Divorce, Estate settlement, challenging the County Assessor, Listing the home for sale, removing PMI or reviewing a recent appraisal, Vestal Appraisal Solutions can help. For a fee quote or to order an appraisal in the Houston Area email us at

Posted by Gynell Vestal on August 27th, 2018 3:12 PMLeave a Comment

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August 21st, 2018 3:55 AM

Montrose is an urban neighborhood of approximately 4 square miles located near the center of the Houston Central Business District. Its diverse architecture includes a healthy mix of bungalow style homes which date back from the early 1900’s to newer construction modern homes. Within the previous 12 months dated from August 2017 to 2018 there have been approximately 202 closed sales within this market. Of these 87 were built after 2010, and 80 were built prior to 1970. Some of the older homes are being razed for custom and speculative new construction.


MLS Market studies indicates Montrose is a reasonably stable market with consistent demand. A trend analysis for single family homes in the Montrose neighborhood as a whole from January 1st to December 31st for the past few years revealed the following:

·       2017  -  189 sales - Median Sales Price $630,000

·       2016  -  211 sales - Median Sales Price $615,000

·       2015  -  189 sales - Median Sales Price $638,000

·       2014  -  216 sales - Median Sales Price $593,000

·       2013  -  264 sales - Median Sales Price $499,000

·       2012  -  201 sales - Median Sales Price $417,000

Year to date from January to August of 2018 there have been 142 closed sales with a median sales price of $622,000. Prior years from 2012 to 2015 have shown consistent growth with 19-percent increase in value year over year from 2012 to 2013 and again from 2013 to 2014. However, the past three years from 2015 to 2017 indicate a softening and prices appear to be stabilizing compared to the increasing values over the previous years. Market sentiment is moving from a seller market to a buyers’ market. Homes priced properly in this market typically sell within 35 days.

While there is significant new construction in Montrose the neighborhood is mostly built out. As such older homes are being razed for newer construction higher priced homes. Properties sold at lot value range from $60 to $106 per lot sq.ft. with a median price of $95 and an average price of $82 per lot sq.ft. The typical lot size in this neighborhood is approximately 5,000 sq.ft.

Given its lack of zoning, wide variety of home types, and urban location where a significant percentage of land use is allocated to multi-family and commercial properties, the Montrose neighborhood can be viewed as uneven. This adds to the complexity in a value analysis where careful consideration needs to be given to external factors, such as a subject’s proximity to commercial properties, noise from nearby restaurants, street parking, historic districts and deed restrictions as well as consideration of comps within reasonable variance in style, quality, condition etc.

For further market analysis of this and other Houston neighborhoods or to order a residential appraisal in this area contact our office at Follow me on Twitter @gynellV

Posted by Gynell Vestal on August 21st, 2018 3:55 AMLeave a Comment

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