The real estate market boom in Fort Bend County is expected to continue this year.
Area agents report high sales and multiple offers with no signs of slowing down.
Realtors also say that while limited listings can be a challenge, new master-planned community developments will pick up the slack and make it easier for families to relocate to the area.
"My entire career has been in Fort Bend," she said. "And I've never seen the market the way it is today."
Owen said properties have been moving like never before.
"As a county, in this office, we had a record year," she said. "Every month, we've broken a record in Fort Bend County."
Houses started flying off the market in 2012, Owen explained, and never let up.
"2014 should be a mirror image of 2013," Owen said. "2013 took off and blew up as the year went on. We have not seen it slow down."
Real estate market booming
Owen said her expectations for 2014 are based on the high level of demand established in the past year.
"There are a lot of buyers, and it presents a whole new set of problems," she added.
For example, one recent listing in the area had 18 offers on the first day.
"The listing agent had to analyze 18 offers to present to the seller," Owen said. "It also meant we had one winner, and 17 disappointed people."
Another issue is that homes often do not appraise for the same amount as the above-listing-price offers.
"We have to work with appraisers and convince them of the value in this market," Owen said.
She explained that her office's main challenge is the limited inventory of available homes.
"We still have a housing shortage," she said. "We haven't built enough in the past five to six years."
Developments in the works
Luckily, Owen said developers are at work to provide more inventory.
Riverstone and Sienna Plantation are still under development, and more master-planned communities are popping up in the Richmond-Rosenberg areas, she said.
Owen also pointed to the Johnson Development Corp.'s new project "Imperial," a 651-acre tract that incorporates the historic property previously owned by Imperial Sugar Co.
"They're all exploding," he said. "They can't produce enough lots fast enough. That's how robust the housing market place is."
David Jarvis, Houston regional director for Metrostudy, a research and consulting firm, said the county in general has a need for more homes than are currently available.
"We see more supply coming to the market in 2015 and 2016," he said.
Jarvis added that Fort Bend will see its fair share of the action.
"Fort Bend County continues to be a hidden gem," he said. "You have access to jobs and good schools."
Calling Fort Bend Home
Cindy Burns, a Realtor with Martha Turner Properties, has focused on selling luxury homes in Fort Bend for the past 10 years.
She said that the high-end market slowed down in the past year, which she attributes to the lack of corporations moving to the area. Instead, many businesses moved north.
"I think it's going to pick up again in 2014," Burns said. "What's going to change in 2014 is that Grand Parkway will finally be open and the Energy Corridor is expanding."
The Grand Parkway will make Fort Bend County more accessible to the rest of the city.
"We will be in the first megalopolis," she said. "It will start in Beaumont, go south to Pearland and head to San Antonio - and it will all be populated."
She added that medical facilities are expanding in the county - a resource that will draw residents, as well as job-hunters.
"Fort Bend will be in the limelight of all the new business development," Burns noted.
She said that people are also coming to Fort Bend, because of its cultural make-up.
"Right now, Fort Bend is the most culturally diverse county in the U.S.," she said. "That helps tremendously."
Burns said that Fort Bend is already a relatively easy commute - compared to some of the neighborhoods to the north of the city.
"It's a great area, with great schools," she said. "I think you'll have people moving to Fort Bend looking for a great quality of life."
Owen agreed that the Grand Parkway has been a game-changer in the area.
"It's opened up some choices that people normally would not have," she said.
Owen said that even when the market place was in a recession, the phones continued to ring in her office.
"People want to live in Fort Bend," she said.