Psyching Out Houston’s Real Estate Market; Mala Sichuan Taking Over Where Mo Mong and Dua Left Off

memorial at waugh

Photo of Memorial Dr. at Waugh: Russell Hancock via Swamplot Flickr Pool


23 Comment

  • Holy crap, real Chinese food inside the loop??? This is the biggest restaurant news I’ve seen since I moved here..

  • I’m sad to see Dua (Mo Mong) go. I’ve loved that place for all of its 17 years. When I went, I was often the only person eating, so it always seemed like it was about to fail. I went a couple of weeks ago and marveled at the fact that it had been around so long, serving me the exact same curry noodles.

  • I believe $50 a barrel oil for a year or two is a good thing for our real estate market. It’ll have the effect of yanking the chain on an overly excited dog. Having bidding wars on houses is unhealthy because it increases prices to unjustified levels. People listing homes for laughably overblown prices will stop. Amateur flippers who try to retire on each flip will go back to being painters and sheetrock hangers and will eat ramen noodles for dinner. The balance in supply/demand will be restored, only properly financed professionals will remain in the market, and sustainable long term rational fundamentals will take hold.

  • So what happened to Dua/Mo Mong? That was one of my favorite asian restaurants.

  • For sale by owner?
    So off-topic here, but anyone have some links or could recommend some forums on where to go to determine if using a realtor or just using an MLS listing package would be the best way to go? Home value looks pretty clear with not much room for maneuvering by an agent and could easily cover the showings privately. Just worried about the risks involved when coming down to closing.

  • Re: Economic prognostications. I’m not too impressed with the quality of this analysis of the impact of $50 oil. It is very difficult to imagine that there will be net positive job growth in Houston or in most parts of Texas for 2015.

    One of the points that was brought up by Dotzour was that the depletion rate on shale oil is very rapid by comparison with conventional plays; that’s true, but one of the many sharp declines in oil price was the consequence of a study by an investment bank that revealed that the depletion rate was not as rapid as previously thought; this demonstrates that depletion is already factored into the spot price and the forward price curve. This theory of oil prices that they will bounce back quickly is NOT supported in the futures market. If the consensus was there that oil prices will be higher next year then they would be higher today. Moreover, essentially none of the shale oil plays make sense at $50 oil, so well depletion in and of itself does not justify additional economic activity.

    Also, they seem to have completely ignored the dismal picture of global energy demand. The oil market is global, not national, and oil prices were already declining when the OPEC decision was made. The economists instead focused on the national economy for their justifications, which is presently an outlier, hence the strong dollar, which — by the way — is a headwind on job creation as well in a city that relies heavily on international trade.

    My expectations are that this could very easily make 2001 and 2008 appear to be easy recessions by comparison. The market is not wound up enough that it could get as bad as the 80’s. That said, the housing market does NOT have two buyers for every new house. A house can only have one owner at a time; the price of new housing has increased fairly dramatically in order to ration the finite supply of new housing. If the housing market becomes a buyer’s market then the only two things preventing prices from declining rapidly will be 1) that the rate of new housing supply can adjust rapidly and appropriately over a mere six-month time horizon, and 2) that sellers are unlikely to be willing to take a substantial haircut, meaning that liquidity could be an issue in some segments of the housing market or in some submarkets.

    I tend to think that the message to developers to proceed with caution is too little, too late. Project financing is already more restrictive. And that’s a good and responsible thing. The more that supply can be curtailed right now, the fewer the pricing implications there will be, and the sooner the market will heal. A market plateau would be far preferable to a peak and valley pattern.

  • @Joel – if you go that route, discuss it with your title company beforehand. A title company can handle a home closing. But, I would typically want a realtor’s help in listing a home and getting through the purchasing process unless its just a white hot market and everything is getting sold left and right or you have a buyer already lined up..

  • Both mo mung and dua were exceedingly mediocre and overpriced considering you could drive a couple of miles to midtown and get far better food less expensively. Mala however is the business, and will be a welcome change for Montrose having only lousy Americanized Chinese (read: garbage) for years.

  • @jgriff: Dua/Mo Mong closed yesterday. They made the announcement on their Facebook page two days ago and it was reported by CultureMap yesterday ( I loved that place, too. I lived about three blocks away when it first opened. Sigh.

  • Welcome to the Houston multifamily market, Radco. By all means, buy more complexes. Buy them so that the fly by night, website-less, faceless LLCs from California and New York can’t!
    Commonsense: the only problem is that this is when it becomes popular for the half-assed idiots of the real estate investment world to defer maintenance on their properties. When tey do, and when they get rid of tenant screening – that’s when things really go downhill. hope the City is ready with a thousand new red-tag pads and inspectors to use them….

  • @joel, let me begin by saying that Realtors are scum of the earth, a notch below that used condom you stepped on in a dive bar in EaDo. However the answer is not a simple one.
    If your only concern is closing then don’t worry about it, Title companies do all the work and banks provide their own docs, so Realtors play absolutely no role in closing other than getting their undeserved check. Also, Realtors provide no protection, legal, or liability.
    To make a long story short, if you’re in a hot and desirable neighborhood where homes fly off the market then by all means list it yourself, but if you’re in a run of the mill hood with few sales far and wide then you really need the Realtor Cartel’s network to try to market your house.

  • I for one would love for real estate prices to moderate some. Will only make the next upgrade more affordable.

  • @commonsense

    I know it’s become your shtick, but damn. Someone’s bitter.

  • commonsense/houstonian, thanks for the comments and sounds like you two are on the same page in that aside from getting listed on HAR a large part of the battle is actually driving interest and being able to tap into the buyers market. Guess I’ll need to see if there’s a way to side step that issue and still offer a buyers commission of 3% or if would still be locked out of the realtor networking cartel. looking on HAR at the zip code and price range it’s a 50/50 split with homes in pending vs still active. Out by Lake Houston so wouldn’t think it’s a hot market, but there is new building going on nearby.

    Does indeed look like a Title company would handle the transaction with very little risk involved and would be a requirement anyhow. Thanks for the help and I’ll definitely be looking into this further to balance out the risks and rewards. If anything, at least I’ll know I did a comparison before throwing money down the drain with a realtor.

    Hopefully some day this process becomes much easier and the whole system can work like Amazon or something (hate the ebay) where you just list homes for sale and they handle everything in between for a realistic fee (ie, realtor experience/knowledge is spread out across thousands of listings and doesn’t end up being an overpriced middleperson with cartel knowledge).

  • @Joel,
    Don’t hold your breath. Realtors are among the nations most active, aggressive and successful lobbying organizations in the country, and they are very good at protecting their 6%. Have a look at where the Texas Assocation of Realtors is based (in relation to our state Capitol):,-97.7408199,16z/data=!4m5!1m2!2m1!1stexas+association+of+realtors!3m1!1s0x0000000000000000:0xaa5e9366046965da

  • I have hundreds of grievances against Realtors, I could go on for hours how their job is full of conflicts of interest, misrepresentations and outright lies.
    Here’s a few simple ones:

    You have to use TREC contract for sales in Texas … Lie, any contract even self generated one will work.

    Only Realtors CAN use TREC contracts… Lie, they’re freely available on TREC website, and although it asks to be used by realtors only, it is widely used by private parties and hold up in the court of law as valid.

    Only Realtors can collect Commissions … Biggest Lie Ever. According to Texas LAW, anybody in the transaction can collect commissions, the seller, the buyer, person providing any services (and is listed in the sale contract).
    This one is particularly important, pay attention… If you buy a house and do not have a Realtor representing you, YOU CAN demand the 3% Byer’s Agent’s commission be credited to you at closing.

  • Soooooooooooooo many (so many!) good mo mongs memories. Lisa was always so nice. That was my go-to place. I’d walk (skate, or drive) there often. I remember calling up on Wednesdays asking if she could start the frozen cosmo machine early so they’d be frozen when I came for lunch (vs. just being ready for night).
    Yeah, I’m straight. What… I can’t have and enjoy a frozen cosmo?? :)

  • joel: The 3% is not a “rule”, its more of a custom. You can list your house with a agent for a flat fee, or any % you two negotiate. Same goes for what the buyers agent will get.
    Find an agent that’ll list it for 1.5%, with $1 to the sellers agent. You’ll have some buyers agents that won’t show your home to their clients (even though they’re supposed to be looking out for their clients best interests, not their own), but you’ll still get individuals looking w/o an agent. And you’ll have an agent to handle all the contracts for a ‘fair’ fee if you want to avoid that (or making a mistake)
    Sometimes I list properties on HAR (I’m an agent, though it’s not my business) with a $100 commission to the sellers agents. I get lots of angry calls (What? $100? I’m going to turn you into HAR!”). You’d be surprised how many think that 3% is the ‘rule’, when just the opposite is true. It’s very illegal price fixing to force a commission rate on a market.

  • There are companies that offer a flat fee MLS listing so that your home can be listed on HAR. We did that and were very happy. We had no problems working with the title company. We still had to pay 3% to the buying agent but it saved us money. My husband felt he took much better pictures of the house than many of the listings on HAR. Our house was in a fairly hot neighborhood and sold in a week. Before someone says, oh a realtor would have gotten you more money, we priced it over what a realtor’s recommendation was.
    It was humorous because we would get phone calls months later from realtors trying to help us sell our house because they had seen an old listing on a for sale by owner site.

  • @TheNiche, very thoughtful analysis of the current situation! I find it a bit ludicrous that Doztour seems to believe young Houstonians will be flocking to buy entry-level homes because of lower gas prices. Two problems I see with that statement: 1) Lower gas prices are not a good reason to buy a home as they won’t stay low forever; and 2) Are there any “entry-level” homes in communities where young professionals want to live (inside or near 610)? I understand realtors don’t want the economic news to create a psychological barrier that prevents people from buying, but they’re ignoring some pretty damning facts for purely selfish reasons.

  • I would venture to say the many of the bazillion inner loop townhomes would qualify as entry level homes.

  • @ roadchick: I can easily imagine a scenario where the ratio of entry-level housing to higher-end housing getting built begins to level out again. The market is very skewed to the higher-end right now. However, I can’t imagine that there will be more home starts in any category this year than there were last year.

    About young professionals in Houston, its hard to typify an entire generation. Not all of them want to live inside the loop and not all of them even want to own a house; and of those that do want to do those things, many fewer are actually able to or that are able to but are willing to put off other tradeoffs in order to do so. (Of those working professionals, I’ll bet that a fair number would rather be professional Facebookers instead, if they were able.) This generation will be as segmented a market as any other that came before it.

  • Common is right on this one. They lie and absolve themselves of any responsibility. I’ve saved a few people from “the perfect place”. How about second floor porches that are 3″ higher than the interior floor? No worries! That’s one from a realtor represented spec in Rice Military.