Carolyn Horton said the media has created much of the apprehension about present housing sales and mortgage concerns.

Horton is the owner and broker of Stephenville’s Coldwell Banker Preferred Properties, presently recognized as one of the top ten realty companies nation wide.

“Appreciation is slow and steady which is needed. Sales have declined, but that is usual at this time of year,” Horton said.

However, she added that homes are still selling.

In driving through various neighborhoods, “For Sale” signs seem numerous. And some homes not being sold are advertised for rental.

Horton said on Tuesday the Federal Reserve is expected to lower rates again. She is hoping for the rumored one-half percent, and said results should be positive for the area.

“I do not see the market going soft,” she said. “Housing drives the entire economy. A detriment at the present time is that it is harder for investors to buy.”

With the rise in cost of supplies and labor, so are the prices of new custom-built homes. Twenty years ago, a home could be built for $45 a square foot. “Presently,” Horton said, “it is $75 to $95 a square foot. The more footage, the more per foot.”

When asked about the sudden appearance of five new homes under construction in Golf Country Estates, she said that in the past a builder would build a few homes, sell them, and then build more.

“In many locations, there are whole additions built at the same time. We just haven’t had that type of market until now,” she said/

Some might wonder how contractors are financing their endeavors. With a bridge loan, Carolyn said that only the interest is paid by the builder until a structure is completed, appraised, and then the loan payments begin. By that time, the builder expects the home to be sold.

Regarding older homes on the market, Horton said they are often more desired than newer ones.

She said that Tarleton State University has helped Stephenville’s market. Parents are buying small homes for their children attending college. Some even relocate with them until the student graduates. Also, financing is done with local banks whenever possible, which is more advantageous for the buyer and strengthens local economy.

Betty Chew, Director of Community Development, said that from January through August, there have been 42 permits for single family residential homes at a total amount of $4.9 million.

“There is little surplus of building lots remaining for development,” Chew said, “depending on where one wishes to build.”

The Alexander Ridge subdivision, FM 914, has 37 lots ready for development with 90 additional ones available in the next few months.

Two other subdivisions being planned are Elkridge Estates and Ridgeview Estates.

Horton said subdivisions are becoming a reality.

Regardless of the signs, the housing market appears to be surviving.

SHERRY BOARDMAN is a staff writer for the Empire-Tribune and can be reached at sherry.boardman@empiretribune.com or 254-965-3124, ext. 229.