Councilman Smith Talks City Business at FBBA General Meeting

Business, Community Organizations, Corpus Christi, Flour Bluff, Front Page
District 4 Corpus Christi City Councilman Greg Smith addresses FBBA (PaperTrail photo)

 

     On Wednesday, November 8, 2017, at the regular monthly meeting of the Flour Bluff Business Association, District 4 Councilman Greg Smith shared what has been happening at the city level.  The citizens elected Smith their council member last November.  “I am a Flour Bluffian, Class of 1970, and the first person who actually grew up in Flour Bluff to be elected to city council,” said Smith.

Harvey Update

     Smith started his presentation by discussing the effects of Harvey on Flour Bluff.  “We really got a pass on this one.  We had mostly roof and fence damage, and overall it was not too bad,” said Smith.  “That said, the condos and hotels on Mustang Island within the city limits were severely damaged.  About 20%, our HOT (Hotel Occupancy Tax) funds come from there.  None of those condominiums today are operating. The water was about 10 feet above sea level on Mustang Island.  It came out of Corpus Christi Bay, pushed up against those dunes, and really caused severe flooding.”

     The councilman went on to explain the issue with the brush and debris pickup, something that Judge Loyd Neal criticized publicly just last month. “For all of us in the Bluff and on the island, don’t put any more out.  The city’s not picking it up.  If you do, you will get a $75 bill,” said Smith.  “In 45 days, the city hauled more brush than they do in two years.  Corpus Christi is about 100 times the size of Port Aransas, which has more debris coming out of it than all of Corpus Christi.”

     Smith cautioned people about thinking we would not have another storm for many years.  He reminded everyone of the 1916 and 1919 storms of Carla, Beulah, and Celia that came within the same 9 years.  “We need to take what we learned from all these storms and apply it to the future.  The odds are we are going to have a storm much sooner than 47 years,” he said referring to the August 3, 1970, Celia that hit Corpus Christi directly.

Creative Commons Photo

     “I am going to be pushing for several things.  One is our roofs and the composition shingles.  Right now we’re required to have a 120 mph shingle that sells for $65 a square.  For $75 a square, you can buy a 150 mph shingle.  And, it will last nearly twice as long.  Instead of a 30-year shingle, you’ll get a 50-year shingle,” said Smith.

     “Flour Bluff – like Port Aransas – floods.  If the conditions are right, we could see the flooding here that Mustang Island saw.  If we increase the BFE (base flood elevation) to one foot above, everybody in Corpus Christi who is paying flood insurance will see a 5% reduction.  Anybody who builds at that standard will save money on their flood policy,” said Smith. “Both of these things can save us money in the long run.”

     Smith spoke of how some of the local haulers had upped their prices after Harvey but took the time to point out the Matt Eckstrom of Killian Calderon Disposal, was not one of them.  “I want to give a shout-out to Matt,” said Smith.  “He is a good local citizen who didn’t take advantage of his customers.”  Smith encouraged those in attendance to call on Eckstrom if they have need for his services.

City Budget

     Smith then talked about various aspects of city government, beginning with the budget that went into effect October 1, 2017.  “Most of us on the council are new to the process, so it’s been a learning year.  We basically received a staff budget,” Smith said.  Mayor Joe McComb and Smith asked that staff cut 1% across the board so that there would be money to put into streets.  When Council was told that there was no way to do that, Smith said, “When they told me they could not save one cent on the dollar, I had trouble with that.  We did get a half-cent on there, which was $3.4 million to go to our residential streets, not our arterials and collectors.”

     “Thirty years ago, all of our ad valorem taxes went to support our public safety, police and fire.  Our sales tax went to the other areas.  Today, all of our ad valorem goes to support police, and all of our sales tax goes to support fire.  I’m not saying these are dedicated funds.  We get $77 million in ad valorem, and our police budget is $77 million.  Our fire budget is $52 million, and we get around $54 million in sales tax.  Monies that were going elsewhere historically have gradually been shifted over to public safety.  I think our fire and police have excellent people there, and we are understaffed, more so in the police than fire.  We do have issues right now,” said Smith.

     Smith explained that increased evaluations did bring in extra ad valorem dollars.  “That money went to satisfy our contractual obligations to our police and fire departments.  We didn’t have anything left over at the end of the day.  We received an increase of $4 million in ad valorem increases, but we had $4 million obligated to raises to police and fire.”  He said that they are looking at different ways to address the issue.  “To put one more officer on the force, it costs the taxpayers $125,000 for each officer.”  If they increase by eight officers, it will cost $1 million.  “Right now we have about 400 officers,” said Smith.

     “We have way too much debt, and we’re not in favor of that.  This council, with five new members, is a much more questioning council than our last councils have been,” said Smith.  “We’ve got to do better as a city, and we’ve got to bring our services in cheaper.  For example, we have a wall behind the museum that needs to be re-built, and I agree with that.  The estimate came in at $10,000 a linear foot for the 200-foot wall.  That’s $2 million dollars.  When we build the Packery Channel bridge and the approaches to it, it will cost $4,000 a linear foot, and I asked why we would do this.  These are the kinds of things we’re addressing.

Wastewater

     The councilman addressed wastewater next.  “It’s kind of a silent thing.  We don’t often think about that, except maybe a couple of times a day,” Smith said, which was followed by a chuckle from the crowd.  He addressed the consolidation of the treatment plans that has been debated for months, an expensive fix that Smith did not deem necessary.  “All we have to do is repair and maintain what we have.”  This direction will allow the system made up of six plants to work and meet regulatory standards without costing the  rate payer $220 million dollars more than repairing the existing plants. “That comes out of our pockets, and there’s no reason for it,” said Smith.  “We have instructed staff to move forward and fix the plants we have to make them fully operational and efficient.”  This drew a round of applause from the audience members.

Water

     Smith then addressed the water system.  “Our peak year in water usage as 1989,” he said.  “We are using about 30% less water today, and we’ve added two sources of supply.  We have plenty of water.  We are trying to make everyone aware of that, particularly industry.”  Smith said that industry is a big consumer of water but there is still plenty.  “We are moving forward on desalination even though we have water.  We just authorized permitting for a desalination plant,” Smith said.  “One thing this council will not do is build that plant until we have the demand.  “However, we want to be ready in case we get a lot of industry come in, and we need the water.”  Smith sees Corpus Christi as a frontrunner in desalination, which will make the city known to industry both nationally and internationally.

     Smith explained that the state loaned the $2.75 million for desalination, which must be paid back at no interest in eight years.  “We will be adding a little to the industry rate since they’re the ones who really want this.  We’re not going to put this on the ordinary rate payer,” Smith said.

Streets

     Smith then moved to the topic of streets.  “The big one is streets, which is strictly a money issue.  For residential streets, we have a program in place, and it’s funded to maintain the good streets,” said Smith.  He explained that all streets in the city have been rated according to the PCI (Pavement Condition Index), a rating system of 1 to 100.  “Any street with a PCI of 55 or above is on a funded maintenance program,” he said in reference to the SPMP (Street Preventative Maintenance Program) started in January 2014 and funded by the SMF (Street Maintenance Fund) to pay most of the construction costs.  Streets that meet the 55+ requirement are eligible for maintenance work through either a seal coat or overlay every seven years.  According to the 2017 SPMP Work Plan, Waldron Road, which has a PCI of 57 from Caribbean to Yorktown, will receive an overlay in 2017.

     “The next classification of streets, which a lot of the Bluff streets are, is PCI 35-55.  We just approved $8 million dollars on addressing these streets,” said Smith.  He explained that this program is based strictly on PCI rating and has nothing to do with amount of tax dollars collected from a particular area.  Only one Bluff street will fall under this program.  “I was disappointed to see that, but it takes a million dollars a mile.  The City of Corpus Christi is going to recondition eight miles of streets city-wide,” said Smith.

Don Patricio Road, 2016 (SevenTwelve Photography)

 

     “The last tier is a PCI of 35 and below.  It costs $4 million a mile to fix those streets.  With over 400 miles of bad streets, that’s $1.6 billion.  We don’t have  $1.6 billion.  We don’t have anywhere near that amount,” Smith said.  He said that only two streets in the city with this rating are targeted for reconstruction, Ralston and Rogerson, neither of which is a Bluff street.  “It’s going to be a long, long time before we can get to the other streets.  Again, it boils down to money.”

     Smith later talked about the way that street repair is done currently.  “We are repairing streets today the same we did 75 years ago,” he said adding that it is not the most efficient way of getting the job done.  He said the city is testing a machine called an asphalt zipper that uses less labor, takes less time, and may do a better job than what the city street crews do now. “This machine does it all and has the proper tamping required to keep the asphalt in place,” Smith said.

     Part of the issue with streets is that developers, though required to do so, may not actually build a 30-year street.  “I asked how many streets have problems that are one- or two-year streets.  Currently, we have eleven streets that are supposedly 30-year streets that are now owned by the taxpayers that are already having to be patched.  Carolyn Vaughn and I want to require a two-year warranty instead of a one-year warranty on those streets,” Smith said.  “If they’re truly building 30-year streets, we should be able to get a two-year warranty.”

     Monette Bright, local businesswoman, asked, “Why are utilities not put in for an entire subdivision when it goes in?  Why are they allowed to put in gas and water taps after the street has already gone in?  Doesn’t digging into the pavement destroy the integrity of the street?”

     “That has definitely been the case in the past.  With the newer subdivisions, the taps are now put in place before the paving begins.

Homelessness

     “This is something that affects us all, especially in the Bluff.  The Flour Bluff Citizens Council and the Flour Bluff Business Association have done great work.  I think if the city had done that, it would be terrific,” said Smith in reference to an FBCC Town Hall meeting on October 16, 2017, where the citizens were educated on the state of homelessness in Corpus Christi and Flour Bluff.  “We are looking for a way to know where these folks are,” said Smith, referring to the proposed Coordinated Entry plan for the city, which helps keep track of the homeless as they move in and around the area.  Smith said that the city is looking at helping reunite individuals with their families.  Two other proposals include a work program and a housing program.

     “Personally, I think I have a lot of support on council with this.  We have to be compassionate.  People have issues that we have to help take care of.  We have to take care of the people who need and want help,” said Smith.  He added that in doing so that we be careful not want to create an environment where Corpus Christi becomes a destination spot for homeless.  “It’s a balancing act.  Citizens in Flour Bluff are concerned about safety and sanitary issues when they go to Parker Park,” said Smith, something that he said is a concern in most parks in the city.  Smith went on to describe a homeless person becoming physical with a woman who was serving attendees at a local function.

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Homeless camp (PaperTrail photo)

     “From a policing standpoint, currently our department’s attitude is that we cannot solve homelessness.  However, when we have someone who is physically aggressive, as a city, we need to strengthen that,” said Smith.

     Dan Hogan addressed petty theft around the neighborhood and its relationship to homelessness.  “I call this a revolving door problem.  We have these homeless people who get on drugs and become a nuisance to themselves and our community.  When they get arrested, they get put right back out on the street,” said Hogan.  “There has to be a solution in some city somewhere.  Let’s figure out what to do about this,” said Hogan.  “Let’s find out where those bus tickets are coming from and buy return tickets.”  This drew many comments of agreement from the audience.

Election Year Coming

     Smith reminded everyone that we are coming upon an election year in 2018.  “Council members are elected for two year terms,” said Smith.  He cautioned everyone to be aware of candidates making promises that they cannot keep in order to get votes.  “Usually, you get votes by spending money.  When you cut, you lose a lot of votes.  Commissioner Chesney is like I am.  He stands firm on the budget.  We have to make the hard decisions.  It irritates people when you cut programs out, but sometimes these cuts are necessary.  I will continue to ask those hard questions and make cuts where necessary,” said Smith.

Audience Concerns

     Joe Lynch, resident and local businessman, voiced a safety concern about the Laguna Shores SPID intersection.  “Even a small vehicle has difficulty making that right-hand turn onto Laguna Shores without swinging out into the lane that goes up on the freeway,” Lynch said.  “Sometimes the driver comes to a complete stop to let the Laguna Shores traffic go, which is dangerous for the driver pulling onto SPID because he doesn’t have a clear view.”  Lynch suggested that the right turn lane on Laguna Shores be moved more toward the Laguna Madre to allow for the necessary space for safe turning.  Lynch was concerned that someone was preparing to build on that property, which might prevent the movement of the lane.

     Smith thanked Lynch for his comments and said that Laguna Shores improvements will be on the 2018 Bond that will go to the voters next November.  “That’s the kind of thing we need to catch before the design.  You’re right.  It is a problem,” responded Smith.

     Jennifer Welp asked about what seems to be a new fee implemented by the City Solid Waste Department right after Harvey.  “It severely affects roofers and remodelers who have to haul debris or building materials,” said Welp.

     “You’re referring to the MSW (Municipal Solid Waste) fee.  It’s been in effect since 2001.  If a hauler like Matt, let’s say, is called by a roofer to haul the material, and he takes it to the city landfill, he pays the fee, a fee that is for street maintenance.  If the roofer takes it himself to a private landfill, the fee doesn’t get paid.  If Matt takes it to a private landfill, it was already in his bill, and the fee gets paid.  Again, it was started in 2001, and the city staff picked right after Harvey to implement it, so it looks terrible.  We’ve had a lot of complaints from the roofers who are paying about $200 when they ought to pay about $20.  Staff is now going back and looking at what was charged and bringing those charges in line to what they ought to be,” said Smith.

     Matt Eckstrom asked, “When you enact that MSW fee on the roofers, are they going to do that through the building permits that they pull?”

     “Yes, it has been switched to the building permits from the landfill bill.  They were supposed to be paying that at that time.  We’ve heard a lot of justified concerns about it,” responded Smith.

     Another business owner asked, “Do those fees go into a street maintenance fund, or do they just go wherever?”  Smith said that the 400-page budget has 66 different funds, which makes it very difficult to track where those dollars go.  “It’s like the convention center.  The taxpayers spend $10 million a year on it, but there are so many funds that the money comes out of that nobody knows what the actual number is.  So, with this fund, it’s supposed to go to the streets, but it goes a little here and a little there.  When the mayor asked that question about what adds up to around $300,000 a year, staff said the money was being spent on multiple city programs.  We are watching that.”

     FBBA President Jennifer Welp thanked the councilman for addressing the FBBA and awarded him with a Keep It in the Bluff Certificate of Appreciation.

Other FBBA Business

  • FBBA elections were held at the November general meeting. Jonathan Vela of Dani’s Lock and Key, Javier Wiley with HEB Plus, and Roshan Bhakta of Candlewood Suites are candidates for the three open positions.  Tom Hollingsworth and Cliff Zarbock will be stepping down from the board.  President Jennifer Welp thanked them for their service and gave each one a certificate of appreciation.
Jennifer Welp and Dr. Tom Hollingsworth DC (PaperTrail photo)
Cliff Zarbock of Premier Realty (PaperTrail Photo)
  • President Jennifer Welp welcomed three local businesses to the FBBA: Matt Eckstrom of Killian Calderon Disposal, Susan Chandler of SCC Jewelry, and Vandana Andrews of Andrews Flowers.
Vandana Andrews, Jennifer Welp, and Matt Eckstrom (PaperTrail Photo)
  • Tire Recycling Program Recap: The FBBA partnered with Nueces County Commissioner Brent Chesney and DEGOLA Resource Conservation and Development District to offer a free tire recycling event on November 4, 2017, from 9 to 5.  Lots of tires were collected, which really made an impact on the Flour Bluff community.  The FBBA would like to thank Wes Womack and his 4-wheel-drive club for helping with collection of dumped tires.  Another free tire-recycling event is planned for early next year.
  • The FBBA Membership Drive is still going on. The FBBA thanked all who are members.  All local business owners are encouraged to join in the last quarter of the year.  The annual dues is $65.00, which can be paid online at https://www.flourbluffbusinessassociation.com/application .

 

C’est Bon Mixes It Up with FBBA Members December 13

     On Wednesday, December 13, 2017, the Flour Bluff Business Association will have their December Mixer at C’est Bon Seafood located at 10210 S. Padre Island Dr, Corpus Christi, Texas, from noon to 1:00 p.m.  Come join us as we introduce the newly-elected FBBA board members and enjoy some good seafood while mixing and mingling with other Flour Bluff business owners.  If you or your business would like to sponsor our mixer next month, please let us know.

Retired from education after serving 30 years (twenty-eight as an English teacher and two years as a new-teacher mentor), Shirley enjoys her life with family and friends while serving her community, church, and school in Corpus Christi, Texas. She is the creator and managing editor of The Paper Trail, an online news/blog site that serves to offer new, in-depth, and insightful responses to the events of the day.

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District 4 Councilman Greg Smith Addresses Flour Bluff Business Association

Business, Community Organizations, Flour Bluff, Front Page

Keynote Speaker:  Councilman Greg Smith

     Newly-elected District 4 Councilman Greg Smith addressed the Flour Bluff Business Association members at the general meeting held January 11, 2017, at Funtrackers in Flour Bluff.  Smith, a native of Flour Bluff and small business owner, has been a community activist for many years, especially in the areas of windstorm insurance, desalination, water, electrical transmission, and coastal erosion and protection. He is currently a member of the FBBA and of the newly-formed Flour Bluff Citizens Council.

     Smith gave an update on some of the issues the City of Corpus Christi is facing.  He spoke about the $870 million budget ($2.4 million per day) and how the city is carrying one of the highest debt levels in the nation in terms of debt compared to revenue.  He added that this debt level could very easily prevent the city from borrowing money for much needed street repairs.  “We have borrowed to the limit,” said Smith.

     Smith outlined a few of the big-ticket items.  He assured everyone that the pension fund is much better than before, with $70 million going to the Corpus Christi Police Department and $50 million going to the Corpus Christi Fire Department.  When discussing recent city efforts to consolidate the waste water plants, he asked, “Do we really need to consolidate our plants?”  Presently our sewer cost is second highest in the state.

     The new councilman said that there are lots of good people who work for the city, and he commended them on the jobs they are doing. “This council expects more out of staff,” Smith said, as he spoke about necessary changes that the council would be discussing at their retreat on January 13, 2017.  He expressed how he wants to see a culture of value developed within the city departments so that progress can be made.  Smith wants everyone to be more aware of what is being spent and how purchasing technology should offer some savings in another area of the department.  He spoke of a $337,000 software for Development Services that was intended to streamline the department, how it had not met the expectations that many had in terms of customer service, and how it failed to eliminate any positions.  He ended by saying that industry is very interested in Corpus Christi and that he was looking forward to the retreat where he believed the conversation would continue to be centered around streets, water, and waste water and emphasized that the “status quo is not acceptable.”

Other FBBA Business

    Out-going president, Melanie Hambrick, was recognized by newly-elected president, Jennifer Welp, for her service on the board. Hambrick is credited with actively growing the association and building positive relationships with local, state, and federal agencies. President Welp will lead the new board which includes Vice-president Roshan Bhakta, Secretary Shirley Thornton, Treasurer Jonathan Vela, Programs Director Michael Morgan, Membership Director Lynn Kaylor (appointed to replace Jeff Rank who resigned in December), Director Mark Thomas, Director Tom Hollingsworth, and Director Cliff Zarbock (appointed to replace Melanie Hambrick who resigned in January). Welp expressed how she is looking forward to serving with the new board and growing the association even more.

President Jennifer Welp thanks Melanie Hambrick for her work on the FBBA board, serving as both a director and as president.

     Welp thanked all the Flour Bluff businesses, Flour Bluff ISD school groups, and board members who made Community Christmas a success.  Over 300 children received gifts at the event, while dozens more were distributed by the Flour Bluff Fire Department via the Santa Float.  Still more were donated to Driscoll Children’s Hospital when the need for more gifts was shared with the FBBA.  Businesses and organizations who helped with Community Christmas include:

  • HEB Plus
  • Fleet Reserve
  • Funtrackers
  • Walmart #490
  • Colonia del Rey
  • Ethel Eyerly
  • Children’s Center
  • ESD#2 (personally delivered Santa and Mrs. Claus to the event)
  • County Commissioners Brent Chesney and Mike Pusley
  • County Judge Loyd Neal
  • Flour Bluff HS NHS
  • Eisenhauer’s School of Twirling
  • Flour Bluff Intermediate Choir
  • Jack and Jill (Santa stage, lighting, and Christmas tree)
  • Monette Bright
  • All the small businesses and individuals that donated toys, supplies, or time

     Welp recognized new member Hilde Hermann of First Direct Financial, a credit card processing company located in Flour Bluff.  Member Susan Lawson reminded everyone to support the Parker Pool Patriots.  Elaine Motl of Barefoot Mardi Gras updated the group about the plans for a bigger and better Mardi Gras Beach Parade on February 25, 2017.  The event is a fundraiser for Big Brothers Big Sisters and the island charter school.  The board of directors held a financial workshop immediately following the regular meeting.

     Next month, the FBBA will host its regular meeting at noon on February 10, 2017, at Funtrackers.  The keynote speaker will be Jim Lago, the host of the long-running morning show “Lago in the Morning,” on KKTX radio here in Corpus Christi.  Lago was recently named to the Texas Radio Hall of Fame.

Retired from education after serving 30 years (twenty-eight as an English teacher and two years as a new-teacher mentor), Shirley enjoys her life with family and friends while serving her community, church, and school in Corpus Christi, Texas. She is the creator and managing editor of The Paper Trail, an online news/blog site that serves to offer new, in-depth, and insightful responses to the events of the day.

Please follow and like us:

Cliff Zarbock, “Mr. Real Estate”, Receives Spotlight Award from FBBA

Business, Flour Bluff, Front Page

FBBA

Spotlight Business of the Month

     Cliff Zarbock, local realtor, received the Spotlight Business of the Month Award at the Flour Bluff Business Association regular monthly meeting on June 8, 2016.  As is posted on the FBBA website, “Cliff was born and raised here in Corpus Christi and graduated from Flour Bluff High School. Before getting into Real Estate, Cliff was a school teacher at a local private school. He jumped into Real Estate in 2011 and quickly became ranked in the TOP 5 PERCENT of all the local agents. On average Cliff currently sells 45 homes every year totaling over $6 Million in sales volume. He represents the seller on an average of 50% of those sales making him an expert at representing both sides of the transaction. Whether you’re wanting to buy or sell, Cliff has the experience you’re looking for.  He and his wife Ashley are currently raising 3 children, Zach(16), Ava(3) and Easton(2) with another on the way.”

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     “I am happy to announce that I have moved my office into Flour Bluff at 10001 SPID.  The new name of it is Flour Bluff Realty.  It is a brokerage dedicated for Flour Bluff. If you have questions about Real Estate or need free advice, just come let me know.  I am excited to be part of the association, and I appreciate the board for acknowledging my presence with the Spotlight.  It’s kind of a pinnacle for me.  Growing up in the Bluff, I really have a fond passion for the area.  I feel like we are the heartbeat of the Bluff, and for me to be a part of that feels like I really made it to the top here,” said Zarbock upon receiving the award.

New Members

Six local businesses were accepted into the association this month.  Five are regular members, and one is an associate member.  They are as follows:

  • Awesome Apartments, Andy Taubman
  • Bookkeeping Plus, Crista Walton
  • Coastal Area Properties, James Skrobarczyk
  • Children’s Center, Monica Salazar
  • Sports Fitness Solutions, Jeff Paluseo
  • Better Weight Center, Dr. Lloyd Stegeman (Associate Member)

Contact information for all of the businesses can be found on the FBBA website.  (Click here.)

Other Business

  • Charlie Zahn, Chairman of the Port of Corpus Christi will address the FBBA at the July 13, 2016, regular meeting.
  • The FBBA by-laws have been updated and standardized.  Members are encouraged to read them at the FBBA website and submit comments to the board.  These will be voted on at the July 5, 2016, board meeting.  (Click here to read the by-laws.)
  • Jeff Craft was commended for his work on the Flour Bluff MessengerSusan Lawson gave an update on Parker Pool .  The opening is delayed due to ADA compliance issues.  $2000 is needed for the upgrade.
  • Dr. Lloyd Stegeman was recognized as a District 4 candidate for City Council
  • On May 12, 2016, Oso Mini Storage hosted a mixer for their grand opening.  Melanie Hambrick encouraged other new businesses that are hosting mixers to contact the FBBA so that all could attend.
  • As part of Beautifying the Bluff, four new trash cans have been installed by the City of Corpus Christi at Mud Bridge.  Melanie Hambrick thanked those who had a hand in the acquisition of the trash cans, including Councilwoman Coleen McIntyre.
  • Information was shared about the invasive plant, the Brazilian pepper tree.  It is changing the natural environment and creating a huge problem for property owners.  Various groups are working at eradicating the plant. For tips on doing this yourself, please click here.
  • The next general meeting will be held at Funtrackers on July 13, 2016, at noon.

 

Read more about this meeting at: FBBA Receives Funds from Chesney, Pusley, and Neal

Representative Todd Hunter Address FBBA

Retired from education after serving 30 years (twenty-eight as an English teacher and two years as a new-teacher mentor), Shirley enjoys her life with family and friends while serving her community, church, and school in Corpus Christi, Texas. She is the creator and managing editor of The Paper Trail, an online news/blog site that serves to offer new, in-depth, and insightful responses to the events of the day.

Please follow and like us:

Mr. Real Estate’s 2015 Market Report

Corpus Christi, Flour Bluff, Front Page

Cliff Zarbock

     2015 was another record-setting year for Flour Bluff home sales! Hello, everyone my name is Cliff Zarbock, aka Flour Bluff’s Realtor, aka Mr. Real Estate. I grew up in the Bluff and currently live here with my wife Ashley and our 4 children, so I have a deep love and connection to our small but growing community. That is why, for the past 5 years, I have focused my real estate business attention here, helping others buy and sell countless properties right here in my own backyard. Because of my local market expertise, The Paper Trail News gave me the opportunity to write this monthly Real Estate column. The goal is to keep all who are interested informed with our ever-changing real estate market. In each issue, I will provide updates to the local market conditions, provide easy-to-read market reports that show exactly where the market has been, and more importantly, where it’s heading. For most of us, our homes are the largest investments we will ever make; this column will help all who are interested keep their fingers on the pulse of their biggest asset. Without further ado, here is my 2015 year-end market report.

Sales Volume

Flour Bluff Sales Up 20% in 2015

     Flour Bluff absolutely crushed it last year, selling 301 properties! That breaks down to 25 a month, a 20% sales increase compared to 2014, and a 40% increase from 2013. The total dollar volume reached just over 54 million, compared to just 28 million sold in 2013.  The average sales price went up as well, rising 4.8% to settle at 180K for the area. This is certainly not as strong as the 10.2% increase we saw in 2014 but is still a very impressive figure.

TAKE AWAY: More homes are selling for more money. However, these reports do show us that we may be at the peak of the market, and the growth does appear to be leveling off a bit. This is mostly due to the low inventory, so if you are ready to sell, now’s the time!

Total Dollar Sales Volume

Ave. Sales Price

Predictions for 2016

     The 2016 outlook seems promising, but the inventory level could still use a jolt. Local developers are recognizing this and are rushing to meet the demand by building new homes in the area, which will certainly be helpful. That, along with more homeowners seizing the opportunity to take advantage of the hot market and get top dollar for their homes, will be enough to keep the engine running strong throughout the year.


Fed Expected to Raise Rates

     We will be also keeping an eye on the interest rates. There was much talk in early 2015 about a rate hike, but it was not until December that the Federal Reserve finally took action with a small increase. They are expected to do more of the same throughout 2016, so we will see what that does to those seeking affordable financing. If consumers are unwilling to pay higher rates, we could see the market begin to turn. Until then, buyers will continue to lock in the historically low 30-year, fixed rates. When it is cheaper to buy a home than rent one, the market will stay strong!

     FBISD is, without a doubt, a huge draw for the Bluff and is the primary factor for keeping our real estate market strong. With the ongoing improvements and planned expansions in the offing for 2016, (which I will cover in more detail in a later issue), FBISD will continue to draw people in seeking a top-tier education for their children, and where there is demand, prices will rise.


Seller’s Market

     To determine if it’s a “Buyer’s Market” or a “Seller’s Market,” you need to know what the current “Month’s Supply of Inventory” is. This figure represents the number of months it would take to sell all current homes on the market if no new ones went for sale. A 6-month sell out is considered a balanced market. More than that is a “Buyers Market,” and less is a “Sellers Market.” As evidence from the graph, we are at 4.3 months of inventory, meaning it is certainly still a “Seller’s Market.” If you are considering selling your home, now is the time!

Days on Market (All)

     As a whole, it appears that homes are sitting on the market just a little longer these days, taking an average of 113 days to close, 18 more days compared to the 95 days a year ago. Note: This is the amount of time to “close” the deal, not get an offer. Typically, it takes 30-45 days to close on a property once an offer has been accepted.

Days on Market

     If we look closer at homes in the 124-179K price range, however (which is a large majority of the home sales), we see that they are actually selling a little more quickly this year, and a lot more quickly compared to 2013. Sells of these homes average about 85 days to close out; this is a very good number! That means if you want to sell a home in this price point, you could expect to get an offer within the first 30-45 days.

Months of Inventory

Retired from education after serving 30 years (twenty-eight as an English teacher and two years as a new-teacher mentor), Shirley enjoys her life with family and friends while serving her community, church, and school in Corpus Christi, Texas. She is the creator and managing editor of The Paper Trail, an online news/blog site that serves to offer new, in-depth, and insightful responses to the events of the day.

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