Shea Homes' new Houston communities

Shea Homes only got its real start in the Houston market as the pall of a global oil glut started sapping the energy economy of its mojo, but it's not backing down with its plans for 400-plus lots in six communities in the market.

The Shea team made a statement this past week in the market with two of the Greater Houston Builders Association’s Best PRISM awards--for "Best Kitchen for a Volume Builder” and "Best Model Home Park"--for plans and programs in the Johnson Development Sienna Plantation and Woodlands master plans, respectively.

What's noteworthy about the kitchens that took top honors in the Oct. 3 event is that the design team responsible for creation of these Shea Homes’ product designs included Michael Woodley and Howard Englander, both 2015 California Homebuilding Foundation Hall of Fame inductees. Woodley's plan 5050 for Sienna and the Canopy Green area

Shea Homes Sienna Plantation model interiors.

A Shea executive we talked with recently said, "Yes, we're building in Houston. We obviously wish we'd gotten into the market sooner than we did, but we love the Texas market, and we're doing okay there."

This "virtual tour" video captures some of the look Woodley and Englander have given the Shea Houston efforts.

Shea Homes opened Houston operations in 2013 and, starting with 55 homes in Woodlands' Canopy Green neighborhood in early March this year, is currently also active in Sienna Plantation and Cane Island, with plans to open in three more communities--Harmony, Laurel Park, and Meridiana--in the next six months.

Shea has a long way to go to make it into Top 10 rankings in our Local Leaders for Houston, since the co-9th ranked builders--LGI and Meritage Homes--each closed 901 homes in the market in 2014. But winning awards and developing strong product, and making a reputation for itself in some of the up-and-coming new master plans orbiting the Houston downtown hub are a way to get the show on the road.

This analysis from Houston Business Journal real estate staffer Paul Takahashi notes that despite its obvious travails as a result of the oil price crash, Houston is "holding its own" as a housing market. Takahashi write:

“September showed a bit more vitality than August, and considering that we are comparing to a record 2014 sales year and remain in a climate of energy-related layoffs, I’d say that the Houston real estate market is truly holding its own,” said Nancy Furst, HAR Chairwoman and Realtor with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Anderson Properties. “Sales inventory has been stable for the past three months and we expect it to grow in the last quarter of 2015.”

By the same token, Takahashi notes that "cooling signs" include a decline in pending home sales, longer time-on-the-market times, growing supply of for-sale inventory, a drop in sales among entry-level and second-time move-up level homes, and slightly softening rent trends.