Laguna Madre housing market nearly sold out

By Gaige Davila 

Homes in the Laguna Madre area are few, but their prices are increasing, and being bought faster than before.

According to the latest data from the Texas REALTOR Data Relevance Project, compiled by the South Padre Island Board of Realtors. The data is from the first quarter (Q1) of this year, or January to April 2021. 

On South Padre Island, there are 116 houses for sale, as of April, a 70.9% decrease from the Q1 last year. The median price for a South Padre Island home has increased 25% from last year’s Q1, at $285,000. South Padre Island home sales have increased 95.8% since last year’s Q1.  

In Port Isabel, there are 12 homes for sale as of April, a 75.5% decrease since last year’s Q1. The median price for a home in Port Isabel has increased by 29.4% since last year’s Q1, at $260,000. Since last year’s Q1, home sales have increased in Port Isabel by 73.3%.

Laguna Vista’s home prices are dropping, however. In this year’s Q1, Laguna Vista homes’ median prices have dropped 8.7% since last year’s Q1, at $195,000. Like Port Isabel and South Padre Island, housing availability in Laguna Vista has dropped. With only 9 homes on the market, Laguna Vista’s active listings have decreased 86.4% since last year’s Q1. Laguna Vista home sales have decreased 2.5% since last year’s Q1. 

“The main thing that is moving the market is low interest rates,” Carlos Chacon, president of the South Padre Island Board of Realtors and owner of Chacon Realty, said. “(And) banks have eased up on the restrictions back from the market crash in 2008. Back then the banks tightened their lending restrictions. Over the years now, banks feel more comfortable in relaxing some of those lending restrictions.” 

Chacon explained these two factors combined are making home buying easier for those who have the money to do so, calling this period a “seller’s market.” Many of those buying homes are from larger cities in Texas, purchasing condos and homes as investment properties.

Regarding building more homes, Chacon says construction materials are still expensive, long after lumber mills initially halted production because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

SpaceX is impacting the housing market in the Laguna Madre area, Chacon said, as the aerospace company continues to attract employment from out of the Rio Grande Valley and out of state. Property taxes will rise as people pay more than asking price for the few homes available, inflating home valuation. 

“These plans for future expansion are going to bring a different type of clientele down here,” Chacon said. “If these housing purchases continue to increase, it’s only going to increase the value of those properties. People will end up paying more taxes.”

Chacon suggests that Laguna Madre area residents protest their property taxes to the Cameron County Appraisal District. 

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