Here Come the Inner Loop Townhome Buying Incentives

West U Court Townhomes, Law  and Weslayan Streets, West University Place Texas

West U Court Townhomes, Law  and Weslayan Streets, West University Place Texas

Here’s a shadow sighting sure to knock the winter doldrums out of any emerging groundhog: Signs are up at the West U Court townhomes marketed by Urban Living at the corner of Weslayan and Law streets, dangling hefty Crate & Barrel, Restoration Hardware, and Best Buy gift cards — among other prizes — free, with your casual purchase of townhome. “It appears from the flier and the website that only one of the units has sold so far; they start at $699,900,” notes the reader who sent in these pics of the festooned not-sold-yet properties. . . . It looks like Urban Living is offering the same incentives on all of their properties.”

Photos: Swamplot inbox


49 Comment

  • Anyone else remember the last time builders were offering incentives like this, say , around 2007-2008……

  • Those same banners are up on newly constructed and in construction town-homes on Rosewood near Almeda

  • A $5,000 incentive on closing cost or a gift certificate is not going to entice many people to buy a $700K home, but it will entice some very stupid people to pay full price on a $700K home.

    Assuming developers aren’t stupid, this is really a big notice that these houses can be purchased with “low ball” offers but they don’t want to tell everyone.

    There are still people who will pay sticker price and be happy with the $5K incentive while others will score incredible discounts AND the $5K incentive.

    The piranhas are in the water and Urban Living is hoping they don’t get completely eaten up.

  • Good. The market needs a reality check.

  • I remember when they did it with cars in 2008. I cleaned up. got a car for 25% reduced price and 0% interest.
    This 1.4% incentive is pretty weak by comparison.

  • It’s a common misconception around the city, but Urban Living is NOT in fact the builder of record. They are the BROKER hired to represent the builder. The “builder” in this case is an outfit called Princeton Classic Homes, just apparently one of their many clients. It may very well be owned by UL itself, but they only build (through other entities) a small fraction of the homes the list.

    When the article states that Urban Living is offering the same incentives on all their homes, does the author mean that they are offering the incentive on all the homes they are LISTING for others? Or does it mean only that Princeton Classic Homes is offering the incentive on all their projects? Also, where is the proof that it’s being offered at any other project?

    Urban Living lists homes for MANY inner loop builders and if they are offer the same incentives, that would be a MUCH bigger deal than if only this one project is doing so. Let’s at least check the facts before spreading the hyperbole.

  • Texmex, I do and am anxiously looking forward to it. Still to early though, best to wait until after a stock market correction gets baked into the cake.

  • @JL Sorry, UL obscures there ownership interests left and right. They aren’t transparent. That is purposeful. No one else has an obligation to “get the facts right” in their favor. Either way, my statement is still true.

  • They also have those signs near Houston Ave and Crockett as well. Very recently put there.

  • Watch you wallet with those UL folks. They already have been guilty of breach of contract in 2013.

  • Houstonian is right. I’ve never had the reason UL get all these listings/business explained to me. They seem so shady. Yet they’re the “go to” for so many.

  • @JL a quick glance at shows they have same pseudo incentives banner. The fine print explains the offer. Based on that, looks like a UL marketing ploy, not the builder/seller. Bottom line is if the price is too inflated (and/or the market is getting a reality check @Cody) and units aren’t selling, no amount of rebates/offers will get a buyers’ attention.

  • This same banner can be found on the west side of 288, just south of Gray. There is a project under construction next to the 288 entrance ramp.

  • JL….UL is offering the same “incentives” on several properties in Shady Acres, all by different builders and with prices as low as the low $400’s.

  • Since that same ad appears very prominently at the top of Urban Living home page, I think it’s safe to say they’re offering these deals at several properties.

  • The reason for throwing in these kind of incentives (along w/ other enticements like closing costs, appliance upgrades, etc.) is so the WON’T have to take low-ball offers, which would affect the comps when it comes time to sell the other houses in the development.
    A big difference between now and 2009 for homes at this price range is that 6 years ago, it was near impossible (at least very expensive) to get a jumbo mortgage. Jumbos were at least 200 basis points more than conforming mortgages, whereas today that difference is about 40 basis points.

  • Please do not cast gloom on our real estate market. The economy may be uncertain, but homes are still selling rather quickly, and inventory levels remain at historic lows.

    One of the reasons these units are not selling is because half of them face a very busy street–Weslayan, and the remainder side to a retail center. A sign of an over-optimistic market is when builders choose questionable locations to build their product. Don’t blame the economy for these units needing incentives to sell blame a developer who ignores locational issues. If these homes were in a better location they would likely have sold.

  • And….reality finally sets in. Honestly, how many people do they really think can afford all of these 500K plus properties? It’s been an absurd building binge, they believe, like in Miami, that all these “foreign” investors will just snap up every property they build and pay anything for the privilege. As Miami found out, that’s just flat out wrong. Sure, Houston has some foreign investment that has possibly pushed prices and stoked the flames of frenzy building, but no way could those investors sustain the steroid like building of high end properties. I hope it’s only going to be a small blip and we won’t have an 80’s like complete collapse, that turned SW Houston into a complete gang infested ghetto over night. houston economy is more diverse today, but make no mistake, it’s still very dependent on the Energy Industry. I’ll keep my fingers crossed and be thankful that I don’t have to sell my house anytime soon~

  • just fyi too. You can get that same $5000 from the lender at any other bank. Rate will probably be better too.

  • Read the fine print, holy crap they left it out. One their website the fine print says that the Seller has to “agree” and it has to be in the contract in order for them to receive it. It’s false advertising. I’m sure best buy, RH and Crate&Barrel hv no idea that UL is even marketing this. People read the fine print, there is always a catch. In my opinion, the catch will be for the buyer to pay full asking price, no negotiations.

  • These are up at the ‘Vistas De Seville’ on the old Standard Register property as well. (Behind the Yale St. Walmart) Different builder name… so likely it’s across the board for UL. As already mentioned, $5k on a homes in this range isn’t exactly a fire sale. Even when things were better in 2012, they’d knock off that much.

  • Agree, it will require more than $5,000 merchandise incentives for the purchase of any of these townhomes just feet away from busy Weslayan (road noise and squeaky breaks).

  • @JL I can tell you that the same incentive signs are up on at least three Urban Living townhome projects in the First Ward that I can think of off the top of my head and a realtor I spoke with (who does not work for Urban Living) said he had seen the same signs on other projects being marketed by Urban Living within the Loop. So it might not be every one but it seems pretty widespread. I believe the First Ward units are priced around $450,000 or so, give or take $10k on either side.

  • those West U townhouses are small and overpriced. you can get the same townhouse in eado for $400K done by a better builder with a better warranty. that would be a savings of $300K! a lot more than some lame gift cards…

  • i saw that Nordstrom’s was having a sale this weekend to get people to walk through the store. Clearly, the end is coming for all of retail. You heard it here first. And it’s about time. I’ve been waiting since 2007 to buy some underwear.

  • For people seeing doom and gloom in the market let me just say that I just offered on a house at 35% over asking, up almost 70k from the last purchase last year. And I don’t think I’m the high bidder (which makes me a sad panda). Some parts of the market may be showing signs of weakness, but definitely not all of them. Heights and Montrose may feel the squeeze on these high end pieces, and suburbs are already hurting from what I understand, but I don’t think we’ll be seeing the same issues everywhere.

  • @JLP. Wow. That’s some fine print. How is that different from any sellers concession?

  • Not sure how bad traffic noise will be but there is plenty of street parking and yards available with these buildings. It also has great proximity to 59 while still being in that part of town. So, I’m sure these in particular will sell but the prices are extremely vulnerable.

  • This may be a sign of the “froth” being wiped away from the overheated market. That would be a good thing, IMHO, even if it disappoints some sellers who had stars in their eyes.

    There’s a big difference between getting rid of “froth” and actually having a real estate collapse. Some comments make me wonder if many folks thought what’s been happening the last couple years was normal. With any luck, we’ll get housing in quality locations (including much of the Inner Loop) back to the froth-free real normal, which isn’t bad at all, even if that means prices soften.

  • @inka waves, how is that relevant at all when location is By Far the most important factor in price? That’s almost as bad as saying, “you could get that same townhome in Second Ward for $50k!” EADO seems to be an up and comer but as of right now is largely just an overhyped rundown area with dilapidated manufacturing buildings everywhere.

  • Folks gas prices aren’t going to be $1.70 forever. They are headed back up already.

  • If the signs are going up on all of UL’s listings, then the “incentive” has nothing to do with the location of this particular set of townhomes. Also, if UL had not seen a reason to get more creative with its marketing then it probably would have been business-as-usual and we wouldn’t see any creative marketing.

    I take these as a sign of the times. The intellectually dishonest Realtors that are cropping up on here and offering weak alternative explanations and spin…well that’s perfectly normal. They are what they are. They’re ubiquitous as a matter of course.

  • Usually a builder provides good financing alternatives and/or pays closing costs. From what I have seen, Urban Living greatly overprices the homes they represent.

  • @Houstonian,
    being off westlayan is not a selling point, it’s something I’m sure the seller will not want people to view the house (or take time to travel down westlayan to 59 on weekends, evenings). The michaels on westlayan/bissonnet is the closest to my house, I’ve yet to go up westlayan to get on 59 without waiting 4 or more cycles of green lights before I finally get through.
    Horrible, absolutely horrible intersection. Westlayan is a jaunt to 59, but you’re better off going up to buffalo speedway or down to newcastle. They won’t hear normal noise from the freeway inside their house, but they will hear the odd motorcycle ripping up the freeway at 100+ mph at 3am, so all the downside, and no real benefit to being that close.
    UL couldn’t give me any amount of incentives to live there.

  • @ Toasty – I haven’t driven that area in ages, so your local input probably says it best.

  • toasty,

    Your arguments boil down to

    “you can tell living off Weslayan is bad because everyone wants to live off Weslayan”

    Or, where do you think all that traffic on Weslayan and at the intersection is coming from?

    My guess is people who live, work, or shop near there because it is a nice place to be.

  • The shakeout has begun on these crappy NC ( new construction ) projects. If buyers knew how their sleek new structures were built they would NOT buy them. But let the BUYER BEWARE: what passes for inspections by the lenders / builders / buyers are questionable at best and legally actionable at worst. In the mean time ,UL (which “markets” these 21st century wonders) and most,if not all of the other builders / developers have reached the upper limits of the market and now that a LONG overdue price correction is happening, let the best offers win. Personally you couldn’t pay me any amount of $$$ to live in,let alone buy 99.9% of any NC structure. The whole overbuilt market is finally coming back down to Earth . It’s not going to be pretty,but EVERYONE got GREEDY !!!! Everyone. You included.

  • I looked at these when I was shopping for a new house recently. The price was just too high for what you get. I found another house in a better location with a much better floor plan for just a little bit more. Where I bought the homes are selling quickly. The price was raised a week after I bought.

    I think they need to knock about $100k off of these, maybe more.

  • I’ve seen the same incentives being offered in Sawyer Heights (MTK is the builder) and in Midtown (CitySide). It’s not all of their portfolio but many inventory homes.

  • @Padraig, care to support your wild unfounded accusations about new construction? Any facts? Any examples that you didn’t make up on the spot?

  • awp,
    obviously people want to live there, or there wouldn’t be traffic. I’m sure the huge grocery store right on the corner of weslayan and bissonnet is a selling feature, as is the heb right down the road.
    there are probably 1000 other good reasons to live right there, but one of those reasons to choose to live there is not because where it is located on weslayan is close to 59.

  • I have yet to see any of these “incentives” advertised in midtown, bounded by bagby, Alabama, Pierce and the freeway. Maybe these come-ons will appear in waves depending on the relative intensity of the sales bubble in any given community. But there’s a fair bit of UL brokered construction in this midtown area and I’m seeing sold signs going up before construction is completed in some instances.

  • I don’t think them being on Weslayan is the problem; it’s the fact that the front doors of the townhomes facing Weslayan are barely 10 feet from the curb. Who wants to pay $700,000+ to be right on a busy street when you can find something at the same price point with more setback? Quite a few pricey townhomes have made the same mistake: the Winfield Gate town homes on San Felipe are so close to the lot line, there’s just a tiny strip of grass between the front door and the fence. That’s what you get when trying to cram too many units on a piece of land.

  • I’m waiting for the shopping center next door to be redeveloped. That is a massive amount of prime dirt.

  • Diaspora – I’ve seen them on Pierce just two blocks NW of Bagby. Maybe not midtown by your borders but considered Midtown by most.

  • One can only hope housing prices begin to normalize here in Houston. From where I’m sitting, 90% of the homes in this city are RIDICULOUSLY overpriced.

  • Dropped in to obtain see these over the weekend out of curiosity. For the money, I’m shocked that the builder thought a mini stove in bottom cabinet would suffice for their target buyer. Saw similar trend in museum district.

  • I can’t speak for the whole market, and especially not the high-end townhome market since I don’t do a lot of those deals, but if the market is softening, the east side hasn’t gotten the memo, at least not yet. I have an eye out for a slow down just like everyone else & this isn’t some Realtor spin, it just my experiences thus far. Read into what you will. I had a buyer try this week for one in Houston Country Club Place, bidding $211,000 on a house listed at $175,000. Outbid. One of the supposed 21 offers received got it instead. Just recently had a couple of listings in the lesser-known areas between Idylwood and Eastwood, small houses, one bath. One in rough shape listed for $165,000. Got 10 offers and went under contract at $207,000. the other, only 1,000 sq ft, offered for $175,000 and got 12 offers and went for $205,200. The comps indicated pricing should have been a lot closer to the list, but they sold higher anyway. I have one person I am trying to get into Sagemont and we keep running into multiple offer bidding wars out there. I kind of expected it in 77023, but Sagemont? If oil stays low, I expect a slow down as much as anyone, but either it hasn’t hit, or hasn’t hit this segment of the market, at least not yet.

  • it’s still going to be a while before the housing market reflects the job market though. i’d imagine around July, which would put us a year out from when the market peaked, we’ll be seeing this and the above listing /multiple bids having disappeared after the tax season and local layoffs hit. Houston has always been a no-brainer of a buy city, but current valuations are showing renting to be a better option which confirms home valuations will be flat for a long time or will need to go down for buyers to get any decent appreciation out of the deal. With all the multi-family building since the recession there will be considerable momentum on the rental side and very little on the buying side with high-wage growth all but having vanished for the near future. nobody is expecting the sky to fall, but things will easily pull back about 10-15% from where they are now before being able to trend back upwards in late 2016.
    I’m of course more focused on the immediate montrose area, but here a mortgage note on a 2-bd townhome after 20% down is nearing the same as a 2-bd rental. at least for me, a “don’t buy” sign doesn’t get much bigger than that. would be interested to hear what other people think about this.
    there is no new normal though. the past few years in energy have been unsustainable just as the asian demand has been. not sure when, if ever, the US and the EU will get back to pre-recession demand levels.