Does Galveston Island Have an ‘Off Season’ Real Estate Market?
Story & Photos By Lyndsey Garza
After living on the island for 13 years, I can say without a doubt that the last three months of the year are my favorite months to be an islander. With the unpredictable weather, I can enjoy the bay while getting a suntan with my family on our boat. Two days later, I can be bundled up in a jacket and pull on my boots to head out to show properties to potential buyers.
Although Galveston seems to slow down during the week, these months are also filled with fabulous fall events, such as the Lone Star Biker Rally, Octoberfest, Artwalks, Dickens on the Strand and the Moody Gardens Festival of Lights. Even though the beaches have a little more room, the visitors are still here. They are simply enjoying and discovering Galveston’s other attractions, which are starting to gain as much popularity as the well-known summer destinations.
How does this apply to real estate? From my experience as a realtor who specializes in the second home market, more people are falling in love with Galveston for more than the lure of sand between their toes. These same people are also seeing the incredible opportunity in purchasing property on the island.
How can you blame them with amazing prices and enticing interest rates for both primary and second homes, and the inventory they have to choose from?
In my opinion, the buyers are holding the cards, even though prices appear to be stabilizing. You hear a lot of news regarding how stringent lenders have become, but this also provides opportunities for investors who aren’t happy with the return on their money in the bank.
There is a large long-term rental market in Galveston due to our student population and hard-working families who can’t meet lender guidelines. Match this with some distressed sellers and Ike-damaged homes still available, and it’s a no-brainer if they are looking for a three- to five-year investment.
We also had a quiet hurricane season. I can’t tell you how many times I heard the excuse, “I am going to wait until after September, then consider purchasing.” I just smile, because as we all know, September rolls around every year. The Gulf’s lack of activity this year simply increased consumer confidence. For those second home buyers, the vulnerability of the ‘vacation-rental-dollar-dependent sellers’ also provides the buyers with a little more muscle at the negotiation table.
I have always said that September through April are my busiest, most productive, months while most people call this period Galveston’s ‘off season’ market. I am already seeing an increase in business and calls in my office, and I look forward to showing these statistics off in next month’s article, which will highlight November and December’s actual real estate sales and statistics
Let’s see what has gotten the current Galveston Island real estate market to where it is as of today. I am going to compare the sales during the first three quarters of the year (January – August) of 2008, 2009 and 2010.
I am looking forward to watching the activity of real estate in the next five months on the island. I know that when I am out showing property to clients looking at an empty beach, and feel that brisk north wind gust that makes me shiver, I will simply smile and paint the picture of Galveston’s summers that I know my clients will be enjoying in a few months. Galveston’s ‘off season’ market? I think not.
Lyndsey Garza is a Galveston resident and real estate agent with Galveston Real Estate Resource, LLC. Additional market information is available on her brokerages’ consumer friendly websites: www.homesofgalveston.com, www.condosofgalveston.com, and www.pointewestrealestate.com. You can reach her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Remember, these 2008 sales numbers occurred in a time period I like to refer to as ‘pre-Ike’ and ‘pre-economic meltdown.’ There are some trends in the table above worth noting:
– West Galveston Island property sales have almost doubled since 2009 and are creeping back to 2008 levels.
– East end historical properties and Campeche Cove real estate are also close to 2008 levels.
– Downtown loft sales are having a slow recovery – numbers not far off from 2009 statistics.
– Pirates Beach and its neighboring communities are hot. Sales in this area have more than doubled as compared to 2009 levels.
– Areas to watch: Only two areas have surpassed their 2008 number of sold transactions, the west end resort community of Pointe West and the east end resort market. The success on the east end is primarily due to the popularity of Palisade Palms, the luxurious high-rise condo development. Both developments have aggressively priced properties, allowing buyers to own property at a serious discount, as compared to the developer pre-construction pricing in place two to three years ago.