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    In a crowded housing market, Bridgeland, a rapidly growing community in Cypress, turns to lions, lemurs, and yaks to get attention.
    In a crowded housing market, Bridgeland, a rapidly growing community in Cypress, turns to lions, lemurs, and yaks to get attention.

    For several months, Beth Simmons, a cheerful, 28-year-old, stay-at-home mother of two, and her husband, an executive chef, had been in the market for a new home. To be clear, they were not exactly unhappy with their present one near Bear Creek, surrounded as it is by dozens of artfully crafted communities boasting access to winding water features, high-quality schools, and dense, kid-friendly greenbelts. But Bridgeland, a rapidly growing community on 11,400 acres in Cypress, seemed to offer Simmons something more, something extra: the chance to mount a camel.

    Of course, it’s always possible that the Simmonses and the roughly 10,000 other potential homebuyers were seduced by the manmade lakes and walk-in closets and open-air kitchens of Bridgeland. But the betting money was on the camels, who had been pressed into service by the organizers of the seventh annual Nature Fest in April, which brought homebuyers face-to-face with kangaroos, yaks, lemurs, and lions—as well as agents from local chapters of Re/Max and Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Gary Greene. 

    Attendees were also lured, apparently, by the promise of food trucks, laser tag, kayaking, armadillo racing, a domesticated wolf on a leash (which may or may not have been a preternaturally large collie), and the chance to break the Guinness World Record for a simultaneous birdcall. Indeed, midway through the afternoon, when 994 people did their best impression of a northern cardinal, they shattered the old mark. (It had stood since 2011, when a crowd of 801 people mimicked the nighttime call of a barred owl at the Midwest Birding Symposium.)

    “It doesn’t get any better than this,” said Simmons, who checked in after her family had consumed a funnel cake and hand-fed a slimy-tongued camel, hopefully in that exact order. “We saw a camel, lemurs, a few monkeys, and we loved it.” More to the point: “I could see us buying a home here in the next year.”

    The kids were on board too, she told us later. “They didn’t stop talking about Nature Fest for days. It blew my mind.”

    According to the Houston Association of Realtors, there are close to 90 master-planned communities across the Houston area, each with its own unique amount of housing stock, and all bent on maximizing profits from the nation’s biggest housing boom. Last year, 34,500 single-family building permits were issued in Houston, almost as many as in the entire state of California, according to the National Association of Home Builders. Given the sheer number of new houses out there, potential homebuyers often don’t know where to start—hence attention-getting stunts like Nature Fest.  

    “We looked at these large public events as a way to make Bridgeland a destination, especially for Cypress,” said Lona Ship, the community’s marketing manager, who helped start Nature Fest about two years after the neighborhood’s founding in 2006 as a way to highlight its outdoorsy elements: the hiking trails, green space, farmers market, waterways and lakes that are home to migratory birds, and on and on. Organizers settled on animals as a way to brand Bridgeland a destination for nature-loving homebuyers, and the stratagem worked, even if the animals are mostly non-natives, like lemurs from the jungles of Madagascar.  “When we’re interacting with potential buyers, a lot of them will tell us that they went to Nature Fest and had an amazing experience,” said Ship, “and that’s when we know we’re doing the right thing.” 

    (Whether it’s right for the animals is, we later learned, a question. Most of them came from Staples Safari Zoo in Washington state, including a capuchin named Wilson, a chirping, juice box–swilling monkey who starred alongside Eddie Murphy in the 1998 version of Dr. Dolittle and, not content to rest on his laurels, made headlines mere days after the Bridgeland event, when he slapped KHOU host Deborah Duncan for taunting him with a grape on a Great Day Houston segment that went viral. But fruit withholding may be the least of the capuchin’s problems. Last November, the zoo’s owner, Brian Staples, was hit with a federal complaint alleging that, among other things, he failed to meet the minimal standards of care for his primates.)

    For now, Bridgeland’s Nature Fest is the biggest event of its kind, but its successes haven’t gone unnoticed. Nearby Towne Lake, a master-planned community which residents traverse by boat, hosts a springtime Lake-A-Palooza featuring leaping dock dogs, a fishing tournament, boat tours, and waterskiing demonstrations by the Aggie Ski Team. At Cross Creek Ranch, just west of Katy, homebuyers are invited to the Fest of Tails each April, a day-long event showcasing giant kites, Frisbee-catching dogs, and a canine talent show. And last October, Riverstone, a 3,700-acre development in Fort Bend County, unveiled a, well, scented homes tour. 

    “Not only will visitors be inspired by the trendsetting décor, but they will be treated to a relaxing aromatherapy experience, with fragrances complementing a room’s theme, such as a lemongrass master suite,” explained marketing director Christen Johnson in a press release that, admittedly, offered no explanation of the connection between scented rooms and the decision to buy a Mediterranean garden home. 

    Not that anyone needed to, according to Jacqueline Kacen, a professor of marketing at the University of Houston’s C.T. Bauer College of Business. In a sprawling metropolis like ours, she said, in which prospective buyers can visit only so many houses, making an impression is both difficult and necessary. Thus, an electric diffuser that releases cranberry pomegranate into dining rooms, citrus into kitchens, and ginger spice into theater rooms. “There’s research that shows that scent can have a very powerful influence on people, so it makes perfect sense for companies to use this for commercial purposes.” In other words, scents make sense make cents.

    “I would never go so far to say that an exotic tiger or the scent of vanilla bean would be enough to make someone buy a house,” Kacen told us. “Homebuyers are rational people, who look at bedrooms, schools, and square-footage. That said, with all else being equal, something small that produces a good feeling could tip the scale.”


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    Just west of TC Jester on West 11th stands the ruins of the Timbergrove Park Apartments. Not since the long-delayed demolition of the Parc Memorial complex on Memorial at Detering has there been such a bountiful inner-loop urban exploration destination. Here is part one of a two-part photo essay, this one covering the grounds. In the next installment we will take you inside the ruined buildings. (UPDATE: Part II is here.)

    Handsome palms line the entryway to the complex's office...

    One of the buildings is cordoned off as an asbestos hazard. In several, the electricity and water is still running.

    It is apparent that a great many of the tenants left in a hurry. Each of the complex's courtyards is full of the detritus of their lives.

    Like so...

     And so...

    ...And so.

     

    There is everything from toys...

    ...to whole rooms, all ruined.

    Here is the pool...

    And the environs of the laundry room...

    Someone had success with a tomato plant, now trampled and at the mercy of a pair of mockingbirds...

    It seems like the residents were evicted some time shortly after Christmas, as signs of holiday cheer abound.

    The saddest Christmas tree ever...

    Many of the residents worked in the restaurant industry...

    A giant trash pile in the parking lot offers strange tableaux like this one...

    And this one...

    So long for now. See you back here for Part II.


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    Earlier we brought your Part One of our adventures at the abandoned, partially demolished, 56-year-old Timbergrove Park apartments. That post covered the parking lot, pool area, and courtyards; this one takes us inside five of the complex's six two-story residential buildings. (All except the one with the asbestos quarantine.)

    So come on in!

    We are not in Kansas anymore...

    Some cupboards were not bare...

    (All of those Speed Sticks were empty; evidently this person had a deodorant hoarding fetish.)

    There were memories of happy times...

    And one scene that freaked me the hell out...

    (It's nail polish. I think.)

    Some walls were adorned with sweet-natured works of art...

    While others were not...

    While still others sported the lyrics of Snow Patrol songs...

    This one put me in mind of Pompeii, where archaelogists found frescoes picturing the doomed homeowners on the walls of their volcanically entombed abodes. 

    See what I mean?

    It was eerie in there. The smoke alarms were chirping their dead battery alerts in many of the units, and ceiling fans were spinning in others. As you might be able to imagine the smell was dank in the extreme. It was time to go...

     


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    Former Texan quarterback Matt Schaub has put his house on the market. The 10,840-square foot, five bedroom Tanglewood manse can be yours for a mere $4.29 million. Here it is, looking like it's on fire inside, as in a Thomas Kinkade painting.

    Let's take a look inside...

    Welcome to the grand interception reception hall!

    Enjoy the cozy fireplace in the fumble formal living room...

    Shake off Sunday's disaster in the mourning morning room... 

    Take your pick of six bathrooms...

     It's not 14 games long, but this slide is pretty long...

    Sorry for this incomplete tour of the Schaub home. If you want to see the rest head over to HAR.com


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  • 06/24/14--21:59: The Rent Race
  • Lyndsey Ray moved to Houston from Oklahoma last year to start a new job in the development office at UH, renting an apartment in a complex near the Medical Center, which worked out fine—for the first year. After her lease ended, her landlord increased her month-to-month rent by $381, a 30 percent increase. “I’d never heard of anything like that before,” says Ray, 32. “I decided there was no way I was staying in that apartment.”

    Ray recently gave her two-month notice and has started to search for her next apartment, scouring Craigslist, working with brokers, and exploring neighborhoods on foot, so far without much success. “I’ve seen fluctuations at the same apartment complex as high as $200 in a single week,” she says, noting that price changes and shifty landlords make her feel like she’s getting the runaround. “You’d think I was buying a plane ticket, not looking for an apartment.” 

    Over the last couple years, the rental market has grown right alongside the notoriously hot real estate market. It’s imperative to act quickly and decisively. “My motto is, the quicker you move on an apartment, the better the price,” says Jan Masters, a broker with Texas Apartment Locators, adding that there are days when she calls 30 or 40 apartment buildings and can’t find a single unit for her clients. “If you come back the next day, the apartment will either be more expensive or off the market.”

    And just as with home sales, it’s a seller’s market out there. Inside the loop especially, where young professionals and out-of-towners are flocking, it’s not uncommon for a manager to get three or four offers for a unit in a single day. And it’s not because they’re bargains, says Kathy Curtis, a real estate agent and former property manager who specializes in finding apartments for clients all over the city. For a one-bedroom, she says, expect to pay at least $1,200 a month inside the loop. Two-bedroom units are going for upwards of $1,500. “Texas used to be one of the most affordable places in the country, but with occupancy being so high, rents are up to California and New York levels,” she says. “In 23 years of real estate, I’ve never seen anything like this.”

    Actually, though it may not look like it, Houston—even in these boomtown days—remains a far cheaper place to live than other cities. The average price for a one-bedroom apartment in Manhattan is roughly $3,200 a month these days, while in San Francisco it’s $2,900 a month. And while median household incomes in those cities are higher than Houston’s $56,000 a year, the differences—in Manhattan it’s $66,000, in San Francisco it’s $74,000—aren’t nearly enough to offset the high cost of rental housing. Nevertheless, Houston was quite used to its absurdly cheap rents. 

    Today, not only are landlords raising prices, they’re also getting stricter about whom they’re leasing to, leaving little room for error on the renter’s end. There are, however, a few things renters can do to increase their chances of landing a unit, according to Masters and Curtis. These include working with a broker who has an established network in your desired area; giving that broker plenty of notice of your timeline and what you’re looking for; maintaining clean criminal, credit, and rental records (read: no broken leases or evictions); and earning a monthly income at least three times your prospective rent. And giving two months notice to a landlord, as Lyndsey Ray did, is standard for those moving between rentals. 

    One thing to keep in mind: many buildings use computer-generated programs that automatically price apartments higher the further out a resident signs a lease from move-in day—one explanation for the fluctuations Ray has observed. Furthermore, as the move-out day for previous tenants approaches, landlords will be more desperate to find renters. “Of course, it’s a catch-22,” says Curtis. “If you only have two weeks to find an apartment your options are going to be more limited.” And it is possible to end up with nothing, if you wait too long.

    Good hunting, Houston. —Peter Holley

    {page break}

    Out of Control

    Skyrocketing rent: it’s what many a Houstonian talks about at parties these days. Enough is enough, we say, polishing off our beers. Something must be done. But what?

    In a variation on a now-familiar tale, John Henry’s Hyde Park triplex was sold in February, and shortly thereafter, he received notice from the landlord. “He graciously offered us a 75 percent increase in rent,” Henry recalls, although no improvements (the Maryland St. triplex still has no central air or heating). “It had concrete floors covered with carpet,” says Henry. “It was nothing special, except for the zip code.” Henry, a laser copier repairman, was unwilling to make the jump from $600 to $1,050 a month, so after 15 years in Hyde Park, he decided to move. 

    In free-market Texas, there’s not a lot anyone can do about a situation like Henry’s. “Unfortunately, Texas law allows landlords to raise rents whenever they want, to any amount they want,” says Susan Carruthers of the Tenants’ Council of Houston. “The only codicil is that if the lease is still current and the landlord wants to raise rents, you have 30 to 60 days to either accept the new rent amount or reject it and move without penalty of broken lease.”

    Which begs the question, what good is a lease, anyway? The protection other cities offer renters, which is to say rent control and rent stabilization, have reentered the debate in some parts of Texas, most notably Odessa, where the West Texas oil boom has turbo-charged the housing market to a degree that makes Houston look tame by comparison.

    Still, the likelihood that cities will intervene in the rental market is exceedingly slim. In Texas, both rent control (capping the maximum rent a landlord can collect) and rent stabilization (limiting increases from lease to lease) are banned by state law, except in the aftermath of disaster, in which case rent control is permissible but must be personally approved by the governor, who also has the power to terminate it when the catastrophe has abated. So even if there were a local referendum and 90 percent of Houstonians were in favor of rent control, the city would be powerless to enact it. To change that state of affairs would require a vote for rent control in the state legislature, an eventuality about as likely as Portugal reclaiming Brazil.

    Anyway, economists almost universally agree that rent control, at least as currently practiced in cities like New York and San Francisco, is a bad idea. There, rent-controlled properties comprise only part of the market, and they drive up non-controlled rents as landlords use them to subsidize other properties. In Canadian cities like Vancouver as well as the entire province of Quebec, by contrast, all properties are rent-stabilized. If you want rent controls, you have to go in whole hog or not at all. Even economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman—nobody’s idea of a free-market zealot—is a foe of rent control, in part because the desperate search for rent-controlled properties turns tenants against landlords and apartment hunters against apartment hunters. 

    As for Henry, a now-former Montrosian, he is of two minds on the concept. “As a property owner, I wouldn’t want anybody telling me what I could do with my property,” he says, “but as an individual, it might be imperative. I don’t want to have to live in Tomball.” So far, it hasn’t come to that. Henry recently found an affordable apartment just a couple of miles west of Hyde Park. In River Oaks, of all places. —John Nova Lomax

    {page break}

    Perking Up

    When AMLI River Oaks, a five-story, mid-rise apartment building on West Gray, officially opened its doors to the public in May, it was with a “modest” social function. Where a lesser residence may have opted for a sheet cake, a vegetable tray, and awkward small talk, AMLI took a different approach, turning their spacious, cream-colored, flat-screen-and-pool-table-bedecked lobby into a Gatsby-themed lounge complete with raw oyster bar, towers of champagne, and a few flappers. A vintage Rolls Royce accented the front door. “It wasn’t exactly your typical building opening,” property manager Stacy Carraro told us afterward. “But it was a lot of fun.”

    Communities like AMLI, targeting mid- to high-end renters, seem to be popping up all over Houston, each attempting to out-glamorize the other in what might be called The Great Amenities Arms Race of 2014.

    At AMLI, which has seven properties in the Houston area, apartments begin at $1,800 a month and top off around $3,500. The motto here is “Exclusive Modern Living,” and for good reason: residents seem to exist in a state of perpetual pampering that might best be compared to a never-ending hotel stay. Naturally, there are resort-style outdoor pools with grilling stations and 24-hour fitness rooms, but lots of places have those. At AMLI properties it’s not uncommon to get access to a private viewing room with an 80-inch TV and leather chairs for you and a dozen of your closest friends, daily yoga classes, personal trainers that make house calls, and 24-hour dry cleaning pick-up and delivery. In addition to kickball, the AMLI River Oaks’s monthly events have included a wine-and-cheese tasting and gourmet cooking classes with a private chef. 

    The idea of turning an apartment building into a theme park for adults isn’t unique to AMLI, of course. Apartments across town are offering perks like cyber cafés, poolside cabanas, valet trash service, car-charging stations—just about anything you can think of. As such, one can’t help but wonder: is there any reason to leave these buildings and venture out into the city? “Not necessarily,” says Cynthia Gregg, the property manager at Hanover West University, a brand-new mid-rise where apartments range from $1,360 to $3,000 (there are two Hanover complexes in town, with five more in development). That’s especially true, she adds, “when you consider that we have a new partnership with Whole Foods for grocery deliveries.” 

    Not to be outdone by its peers, the Hanover West U is planning an 11,000-square-foot clubhouse with billiard tables, game consoles, and the requisite theater room and fitness center, as well as a massive outdoor playground where residents will enjoy cabanas, bar-side seating, TVs, and fire pits. “In the past an apartment complex pool was just a few folding chairs and tables around the water, maybe a grill, too,” says Gregg. “Now we all have to compete with one another, and everyone wants to one-up the competition.” —P.H.

    {page break}

    On the Contrary...

    Call it developer Brandt Bowden’s Alan Greenspan moment. At a May luncheon, the managing partner at Houston-based real estate firm the Hanover Company dared to publicly state his belief that Houston residential rents would not continue their meteoric rise forever, that in fact they were already starting to level out and may well decline. He noted a “downtick in rents” over the previous three months, saying that while landlords’ concessions were “not huge,” he had nevertheless seen “evidence of rent erosion.” 

    His words were met with some of the same swift denials, and even vitriol, that investors hurled at Greenspan after his famous “irrational exuberance” moment. “Yeah, it kinda caused a little stir among my brethren,” he chuckles. But who could blame them, really? Bowden’s claims fly in the face of recent findings by the rent-trackers at Houston’s Apartment Data Services, which were reported on in the media. According to those numbers, annualized rents were up 11.2 percent. 

    While Bowden’s not backing down, he does believe some of his competitors and colleagues might have blown his words out of proportion. His claims were based, he says, on decreases of a nickel per square foot on some leases in recent months, as well as landlords lately making more concessions. 

    “These are not cataclysmic events, but … evidence that there is some pushback,” says Bowden, who also worries that developers might be overbuilding, if only just a tad. He has a rule of thumb, based on two decades of supply-and-demand patterns: Houston should be creating five new jobs for every new apartment unit built. By that measure, the city may be a little out of kilter on the building front. 

    “The amount of supply coming is probably somewhere between 16,000 and 18,000 units. If you apply that 16,000 number to the 20-year average, we would need about 80,000 new jobs,” he says, adding that only about 70,000 new jobs are projected to come this way. “But quite frankly, we’ve surprised people on the jobs front from time to time,” says Bowden. “Is it conceivable that we do 90,000 to 100,000 on the jobs front? It’s not inconceivable, but it’s not probable.”

     The bottom line for renters is this: don’t be scared to haggle a bit, and remember—you could be living in an even more cutthroat and expensive market like New York, Washington, or San Francisco. “When you look at it from a national perspective, we are still one of the top low-cost cities in America, and not by a little bit but by a lot,” says Bowden. “One of the things that makes Houston great is the fact that the consumer wins on the housing trade here.”—J.N.L.


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    Bob Schultz, the developer behind the eclectic assortment of shops and venues on the 3600 and 3700 blocks of Main, has big plans for what many call “The Island.”
    Bob Schultz, the developer behind the eclectic assortment of shops and venues on the 3600 and 3700 blocks of Main, has big plans for what many call “The Island.”

    These days, on the once-blighted  3600 and 3700 blocks of Main St., you will find establishments like Double Trouble (a coffee shop/bar), My Flaming Heart (boutique), Sig’s Lagoon (record shop), Big Kat’s (tattoo parlor/barbershop), Natachee’s Supper ‘n Punch and Tacos A Go-Go (restaurants), and the Big Top Lounge (another bar). In addition to possessing colorful names, these places are all independent local businesses. Further, they are local businesses that have the firm support of developer Bob Schultz, who owns the buildings they occupy, as well as the Continental Club, his first foothold on the block and one of the city’s premier music venues. 

     “When this was Guy’s News, it was kinda scary,” Schultz says, pointing across the street while sipping a pint of Karbach at Double Trouble. “I never went in. I thought it was a porn store. But I loved the building.” Actually, it was a newsstand whose most salacious offerings were Playboy and Penthouse, but anyway Schultz bought the place in 1999, along with Continental Club co-owner/manager Pete Gordon, whom Schultz calls “the heart and soul” of the area, and old college friend Steve Wertheimer, founder and owner of the Austin Continental Club. 

    Today, Schultz’s two blocks are collectively known as The Island, a burgeoning oasis of Bayou City cool, a redevelopment effort that somehow avoided becoming something uninteresting, which sadly seems to be the norm these days, on Main and elsewhere. Instead, it’s beginning to seem like Schultz has sown the seeds of a South Congress in Austin or a Magazine Street in New Orleans—of a district that defines a city.

    If that sounds like hyperbole, consider what’s on its way. The area, whose epicenter is the Ensemble/HCC stop on METRORail, will be the home of the new Midtown Arts & Theater Center Houston, which broke ground in May and is set to open in middle or late 2015. The $25 million facility will contain a 350-seat theater, as well as several smaller performance and gallery spaces, thereby providing a home for a number of arts groups devoted to the performing and visual arts. 

    Right next door, Schultz, who guaranteed the loan by which the MATCH property was purchased a few years ago, has broken ground on Mid Main, which, in addition to bringing even more shops and restaurants to the area, will also include a parking garage to be shared with MATCH, and 363 new apartments. The better to attract students, young professionals, and those on a budget, more than half of the units will be studios, and there will also be access to Zip Cars, B Cycles, and plenty of bike racks (and in-unit bike storage space), so those who want to live car-free—yes, car-free in Houston, Texas—will have that option. 

    Schultz is a handsome, tall, square-shouldered guy of 52, with a clear-eyed gaze under a shock of blond hair. Possessing a deeply felt and well-honed aesthetic sense married to a no-BS demeanor, Schultz has always been a bit of a maverick, even in his early shopping center and strip mall days. “One of the things we were shooting for was to be the anti–strip mall,” he says, “to bring design to them.”

    As evidence, he points to the portico-lined, Spanish-style plazas around the Kroger stores at Buffalo Speedway at Westpark, and Voss at San Felipe, both designed by RHS Interests, his company. He can’t put his company’s name on a shoddy piece of work, he says, because it’s his good name, too—RHS are his initials.

    Schultz hails from Davenport, Iowa, and “for them it was a matter of civic pride,” them being the German immigrants who settled it. Their attitude was,“I built this building and therefore my reputation is tied to it, and I am going to live in this community for more than 20 minutes.” (Schultz lives now in the Upper Kirby District and serves on its improvement and beautification board.)When he was in junior high, in 1976, his parents announced that the family was moving from Davenport to Houston. On his first afternoon in town, Schultz remembers, he and his sister took off to explore Spring Branch, where they were beset by toads, and a tree roach hazed his sister Houston-style by flying into her hair. “We were like, ‘Oh my God, what are these creatures?’” 

    Young Schultz was astounded by the city’s urban environment. “Houston, even at that time, the mid-’70s, was transitioning,” he recalls. “Westheimer out past—I don’t know, Fondren—was still a dirt road, so that whole area was still undeveloped, but for me it was a huge city. Shortly thereafter, the oil boom really started to take hold and things were getting built downtown. I’d never seen skyscrapers and I became instantly fascinated.”

    In retrospect, Schultz says that the downtown Davenport of his youth does somewhat resemble what he is creating on Main. No, Midtown will never be as Norman Rockwell as Iowa in the ’60s, he grants, but memories of shopping at locally-owned department stores in a compact old town are stamped indelibly in his memory. “There’s nothing wrong with national chain retailers,” he says. “Everybody uses them and some of them are great. It’s just that there are times when people long for things that are local, and where the ownership is present. … We want to try to create a community on Main where you know the people and you come back and are a part of their success.”

    The Mid Main project is poised to be the most important of Schultz’s career. He bought the parcel of land in 2008, just weeks before the real estate crash, so he’s a little bit behind on his plans, but now they are moving forward with furious momentum. Maybe it’s the beer, but sitting with him in the midst of The Island’s bustle, we can’t help but reflect that like Will Hogg before him, Schultz may well leave his mark on this city in countless ways, and do so without ever once blowing his own horn. 

    “I love this place passionately,” he says of this city. “When people come and they don’t know and they take on that whole national image thing that Houston sometimes gets colored with, I always say, ‘You just don’t know it.’ It’s an onion you have to peel back and that makes it more fascinating. Because you do have to peel it back. You can’t just waltz into it with everything laid out in front of you.” 


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    Houston House’s spacious balconies.
    Houston House’s spacious balconies. Courtesy of Houston House

    Downtown ($1,300)

    What
    A one-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment at Houston House, 1617 Fannin St. 

    Size
    601 square feet

    Price per square foot
    $2.16 

    Houston House interior.
    Houston House interior. Courtesy of Houston House

    Location
    For nearly a half century, Houston House has served as the main destination for downtown dwellers hoping to avoid a mortgage. And although three more luxury towers will go up near the building over the next year, the iconic tower remains a relative deal, as well as one of the last true mid-century modern buildings in town.

    Interior
    Thanks to a building-wide renovation in 2010, apartments are now equipped with wood floors, granite countertops, and newer appliances, while still retaining some of the largest balconies in town, courtesy 1960s construction regulations.

    Amenities
    Great views of downtown and a short walk to sports venues, Discovery Green, and the METRORail. There’s also a 24-hour fitness center, full-size basketball court, clubroom with pool table, and a movie room with theater seating. The building’s pool and deck are in the process of being replaced.

    Courtesy of The Retreat at The Woodlands

    The Woodlands ($1,237)

    What
    A one-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment in The Retreat at The Woodlands, 4400 College Park Dr.  

    Residents’ lounge.
    Residents’ lounge. Courtesy of The Retreat at The Woodlands

    Size
    792 Square Feet 

    Price per square foot
    $1.56

    Location

    Not far from The Woodlands’s busy downtown shopping district, The Retreat has a residential feel. It’s also a short distance from Lone Star Community College and W.G. Jones State Forest.

    Courtesy of The Retreat at The Woodlands

    Interior
    Apartments have a contemporary design with wood floors, granite countertops, new appliances, and mood lighting, as well as access to a private patio or deck.   

    Amenities
    Concierge service that manages daily errands, health center, cyber café with Starbucks coffee bar, and a sports lounge with billiards overlooking the resort-style pool.

    Courtesy of the Plaza

    The Museum District ($1,395)

    What
    A one-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment at The Plaza, 1615 Hermann Dr.

    Size
    686 square feet

    Price per square foot
    $2.03 

    Courtesy of the Plaza

    Location
    A shuttle for residents to hospitals, Rice University, Kroger, and Target is available five days a week for $1.50 a trip. Bordering Hermann Park, Rice, and the Medical Center, The Plaza is a popular destination for students, long-term Med Center patients, and professionals who appreciate the building’s short distance from Miller Outdoor Theatre, the Houston Zoo, and more. “We’re surrounded by 17 museums within walking distance,” says property manager Sarah Kolkman.

    Interior
    Hardwood floors in kitchens and bathrooms; energy-efficient appliances; simple, contemporary interiors; private balconies and patios.

    Amenities
    Fitness center, dog park, and a year-round outdoor pool with hot tub.


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    Finding just the right apartment in a metropolis the size of Houston is a formidable task, especially for newcomers. Unlike smaller cities, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. If you’re a recent arrival in the market for a large or luxury complex, you might want to consider hiring an apartment locator. (Almost all will cost you nothing—they take commissions from your future landlord.)

    If you’ve found Craigslist a painful and perennial source of frustration, you may want to give the site another try. The rental classifieds have made a comeback, with today’s version beating the pants off the cluttered, scam- and spam-ridden Craigslist of a few years back. These days, listings offer intuitive, map-based searches and easier-to-access prices and pictures.

    “Now you can put up pictures and so much information … you get way fewer calls than in the old days, and everyone who calls is very serious,” says Cite editor (and occasional Houstonia contributor) Raj Mankad, who owns several rental units. “You can also keep experimenting with the listing until you figure out the market rate.” 

    Though better known for its listings of homes for sale, HAR.com has a similar map-based apartment-search feature in which you supply your criteria (price, bedrooms, neighborhood, etc.) and listings pop up for rentals around town. 

    Recent apartment-hunters I spoke to touted their personal methods, ranging from high-tech to old-school. There are apps aplenty: HAR offers an iPhone/iPad app, while Apartment-finder.com, ForRent.com, and Apartmentguide.com apps support both Apple and Android devices. And then there’s good old-fashioned pounding the pavement, which can still be effective in areas like Montrose and Eastwood. This admittedly haphazard approach is the favored method of those in search of more unusual properties (like garage apartments) and the personal touch.


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    Michele Marano, director and founder of Real Estate for the Energy Professional, Champions Real Estate Group
    Michele Marano, director and founder of Real Estate for the Energy Professional, Champions Real Estate Group

    Michele Marano remembered the client well. He was moving to Houston from New Jersey, and wanted to find a three-bedroom home, on at least an acre of property, in the Galleria area. 

    For $150,000. 

    “I said, ‘Who told you that you could get that in Houston?’” she whispered one afternoon at the West Alabama Ice House, widening her eyes at the memory. “‘This is not Detroit.’” 

    Welcome to the world of energy industry–driven real estate. It’s crazy, fast-moving, occasionally nerve-jangling—at least these days—and presided over by Marano, who spends most of her days 1) helping clients buy and sell houses and 2) familiarizing them with their new hometown. 

    “People are coming here not really understanding our market,” the director and founder of Real Estate for the Energy Professional, Champions Real Estate Group, went on in her conspiratorial tone. “It’s not cheap here. Yes, we’re 2 percent below the national average. But we’re not as inexpensive as some people come here thinking. I am their reality check.” 

    At first glance, it may seem as if reality bites, but Marano truly admires her clients, who, misperceptions about Houston notwithstanding, are savvy, she said, and like her because she speaks their language. “I don’t even meet people from Texas anymore,” she laughed, referring to the 90 percent of her clients who are connected to energy in some way, from executives to traders to engineers to landmen, for companies like Conoco, Technip, Fluor Daniel, Exxon, Chevron, Repsol, and Koch. Many who have traveled from far and wide—Europe! The Middle East!—come in search of the Galleria area. Marano is glad to facilitate deals in this location, of course, although these days The Woodlands and neighborhoods along the Energy Corridor are equally in favor. 

    In her pre–real estate days, Marano worked for 15 years as an energy commodities broker, mostly in New York state. But she did do two tours of duty in Houston in the ’90s, during which time she always wished there was someone to call to help someone like her. “It led me to thinking, okay there is a need here,” she said. Still, once she permanently relocated to Houston in ’98, it would be more than a decade before she acted on the idea of targeting such a specialized clientele.

    What makes a great realtor-to-the-energy-professional? A knowledge of other markets besides real estate. “There are correlations between real estate and the price of oil,” said Marano, who is continually surprised at how many real estate agencies don’t keep up with the price of crude. Knowing how much a barrel commands can be an icebreaker of sorts with the right client, after all. Moreover, she said, sipping her Diet Coke, it helps her predict the future—her own, that is, but also the real estate market’s, and, well, the city’s. 

    “There could very well be an oil bust,” Marano said, noting how much oil prices had declined since June of last year. “The [real estate] market has shifted already. Things are softening. It’s more of a buyers’ market. It was a sellers’ market, up until about June. What happens with oil prices—we’re in a record low right now—real estate is the aftereffect. You don’t see it right away. I know things are going to start adjusting.”

    For now, however, on this mild day in December, Marano didn’t seem alarmed. All the talk was of shifting and adjusting and softening, nothing more. She thought back to ’08 and ’09, and a pair of foreclosures on the market in Tanglewood. “They were snatched up immediately,” she said. “In Houston, there’s always somebody somewhere who can afford it.” She thought too of all the potential buyers out there who’ve been sitting out an overheated market. They may well jump in now that things have calmed down. 

    And if all else fails, “there’s always somebody coming, somebody leaving, somebody temporarily leaving and coming back.” She mentioned a guy she worked with, who six months later left for Qatar. As long as there are still people like that, there will be a need for her services.

    “I’m not worried,” she said. “I never worry.”


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    Image: James Boast

    “From 1981 to 1984, we lost 210,000 people who moved away from the city of Houston,” said Marvy Finger, president and CEO of the Finger Companies, the developer responsible for the construction of nearly 60 apartment complexes and rental communities in Houston since 1958. “It’s indelible in my mind, because my occupancy went from 95 percent to 65 overnight, and it wasn’t because of rent price,” he recalled, sitting just to our left. “We were giving them away—we just didn’t have anybody to give it to. There just weren’t any people.”

    “Those were disaster times,” intoned a man sitting to our right, part of a coterie of real estate experts who had met for lunch at a Galleria-area restaurant. He was Robert Bland, founder of Pelican Builders, which has developed some of Houston’s most sought-after high-rises, mid-rises, and single-family home communities over the last four decades.

    As Finger spoke, slowly and deliberately, the other guests at the table—all leaders in their own right—sat and carefully considered the pronouncements of this éminence grise. “I’m the neophyte here,” chuckled Bland at one point.

    Sitting adjacent to him was Martha Turner, immediately recognizable from her television commercials. “We’ve seen lots of changes, haven’t we?” she said, looking around the table of old chums whose homes and condos she’s sold for over 30 years. The men present were no small part of the reason that her real estate firm was acquired by Sotheby’s in early 2014, after a banner year in which she sold $2 billion worth of properties in Houston alone.

    “There’s still a lot of uncertainty,” Finger continued. Then Bland cut to the chase, asking the question that’s on every Houstonian’s mind these days: “Is this going to be the 1980s again?”

    The table looked again to Finger, who sat quietly for a moment. “I’m not comparing this to the Confederacy just before the opening volley,” he said, as the table erupted in laughter. “Everything’s gonna be okay.”

    If there was a theme for the afternoon, it was this: everything is gonna be okay.

    In making this prediction in late February, Finger was aware that his was a minority view. Most everyone else at the time was forecasting doom and gloom for Houston’s real estate market in the face of crashing oil values that saw the price per barrel drop 40 percent last year. By early 2015, that price had dwindled even further, to below $50 per barrel, and Houston—the nation’s energy capital—began to see its unbridled growth reined in. Across the city, layoffs began: ConocoPhilips, BP, Halliburton, Apache, Tenaris, companies big and small across the energy sector.

    The daily barrage of negative news has left the public rattled and skittish about entering the real estate market, especially in a city where oil prices have so often presaged housing booms and busts. Still, there are signs that things might be different this time. For one thing, Houston is far from the one-industry town it once was. The latest study from the Greater Houston Partnership reports that Houston created over 120,000 jobs last year in sectors as diverse as health care, education, engineering, construction, and manufacturing—not to mention the retail and service-industry jobs that have sprung up to support all of this new growth. And even with slumping oil prices, the GHP notes that Houston should expect to see an additional 60,000 to 70,000 jobs created each year for the next five years, in what it calls “an affirmation of Houston's resilience after nearly three decades of diversification.”

    Turner mentioned a second reason for hope: the impending expansion of the Panama Canal. Once the $5.3 billion project is completed in early 2016, Texas is looking forward to exporting liquefied natural gas (LNG tankers previously couldn’t fit through the Panama Canal’s locks) to Asian markets via the newly widened waterway, as well as cotton, pecans, corn, and other crops—and all through the Port of Houston. The port, which is already the busiest in the US when it comes to foreign tonnage, could also see additional traffic from Midwestern markets as more shippers divert Pacific-bound goods to closer ports than those in California and Canada.

    For the present, Finger seemed content to play the waiting game. “First, we really do have to reach a bottom to get a balance in the supply and demand of fossil fuel,” he explained. “Once that is in balance, that would be the beginning of a recovery. But if [finding the bottom of the oil market] takes an extended period, anything over 18 months, that’d be a very long and difficult recovery.”

    Across the table, Tom Anderson, Turner’s longtime business partner, chimed in with his opinion on the price that oil needs to reach again in order to trigger a recovery. “I’ve been told it’s $65 a barrel. That’s the turning point.” And data would seem to back Anderson up. A recent Metrostudy report tracking oil prices and real estate trends since 1980 shows a “sweet spot” between $55 and $90 per barrel that “produces the highest demand for housing in the Houston market.” And though the US Energy Information Administration predicts that oil will remain at around $57 for the duration of 2015, the agency expects the price to rise the following year to $75, which would be good news for the Houston economy—if bad news for gas buyers—as long as it didn’t go much higher than that. Anything above $90 a barrel tends to hurt the real estate market, even here.

    “We’ve all had our ups and downs,” said Bland, smiling. “The last up has been real fun.” As the table laughed in agreement, he continued. “But realistically—and we’re all positive thinkers, or else we wouldn’t be in this business—it’s time to tighten your belt a little bit.”

    Across the city, it would seem that the belt-tightening is already underway: 50 multi-family developments have been postponed indefinitely or killed altogether since January. But Finger doesn’t consider that a worrisome trend. The market was already overbuilt, he said. This is part of the correction. What’s not overbuilt? Single-family homes. Houston currently has just a 2.6-month supply of inventory—that is, it would take 2.6 months to completely sell the current number of homes on the market—which is exactly the same amount we had in January 2014. Compare that to January 2007, just before the financial crash, when the inventory was 5.1 months, or January 2011, when it rose to a 10-year high of 7.3 months.

    After last year, in which million-dollar home prices became the norm and sales rose nearly 13 percent, the luxury real estate market will also be cooling its heels in 2015. And before you ask, no, this doesn’t concern the legends of real estate either.

    “The bread and butter [of our industry] is $300,000 to $500,000 houses,” said Anderson. “It’s the bread and butter.”

    Will the market correction mean lower home prices down the road, we wondered? Nope.

    “I don’t think you’re going to see prices go down,” Anderson said, as the table nodded in agreement. “I think they’ll stabilize.” What’s also definitely not going down is the price of land, which is the chief reason—along with a booming job market that brought in lots of out-of-towners with big paychecks—that real estate became so pricey over the last several years.

    But developers like Bland and Finger have a solution to that problem, too—urban density. “Migration back to the city” is the wave of the future, said Turner, and Bland agreed. “Every old apartment project between here and downtown is going to be torn down,” he said.

    “There’s always going to be the special niche like The Woodlands, which is a true destination, for those who can afford it and want an opportunity to live in that environment,” added Finger. The same is true for Memorial and its Spring Branch school district, or Bellaire and its eponymous high school.

    “Most people move to Memorial because they want that school district,” said Turner, “because if they have five children, they’re spending $25,000 a year minimum just to send them to private schools.”

    “But when families don’t need that school system,” Anderson followed, “they’ll go back to the city.”

    And when they do, they’ll be greeted by a bevy of tall buildings erupting from the rubble of all those old apartment projects. “We will take a high land price and divide by a whole bunch of units like a rental or a condominium,” Bland said. “The land price is still significant, but it’s not the crucial factor. That’s going to be another thing that will push higher-density development inside the Loop. It’s a fact of life. We can’t build townhomes anymore.”

    Anderson saw echoes of this mindset in the single-family home market as well, where homebuilders are realizing that “the 6,000-, 7,000-square-foot mansion is just not what people are looking for.” Instead, “what we’ll find is a lot of custom homes on very expensive lots that are scaled-down houses.” That’s because homebuyers are increasingly asking themselves whether they really need those big, grassy lawns they never use. And for good reason.

    “The cost of water over the next 20 years is going to drastically increase, maybe more than electricity,” Anderson said. “I think there’s just an overall feeling of homeowners to be a little more conservative.”

    Condos are proving to be a terrific investment if you don’t need that lawn, said Turner, or that school district. The low housing inventory has driven condo sales through the roof, making it the fastest-growing segment of the real estate market, though Turner admitted that it still represents only about 10 percent of her firm’s sales. As for those not quite ready to jump into a 30-year mortgage, Finger is betting heavily that they’ll want to live downtown. His game-changing One Park Place high-rise and its in-house grocery store, Phoenicia, singlehandedly revitalized the central business district as a residential area. But is there a coming glut in downtown housing?

    “You explain to me how there are nine committed tall buildings for rent in downtown Houston,” Finger asked the table, all of whom seemed incredulous at this latest round of interest in the downtown district. “There is no reason to live downtown,” he chuckled. It seemed an odd remark for a developer to make, especially one in the midst of building a luxury mid-rise near Minute Maid Park. Finger’s 500 Crawford is slated to have one- and two-bedroom rentals, plus an eighth-floor deck with a view straight into the Astros’ ballpark.

    Then again, such is the happy life of a Houston developer, who knows that people will eventually live where there’s no reason to live, because, well, what choice will they have?

    “We’re all very optimistic about the future,” said Finger as lunch came to a close, in case anyone still doubted it. The rest of the party murmured their agreement. And even if being bullish is their job—after all, building and selling homes is how they make their livelihood—perhaps we should all be optimistic. After all, even if inventory is low right now (read: prepare for a bidding war), at least prices have plateaued—for the moment.

    “We’re all very positive about Houston,” Bland said, driving the point home. “It might moderate a little bit, but we’re not headed for disaster.” What we are headed for is still a bit fuzzy, but expect a future of—at a minimum—more mid-rises and shiny new residential towers, all of them changing Houston’s landscape as indelibly as the oil boom did in the 1970s.

    “I think Houston could be the next Los Angeles or New York City,” smiled Bland, an optimist to the end.


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    Montrose has properties big and small.
    Montrose has properties big and small.

    Tried and True

    If you somehow manage to find a home in one of the following coveted areas, congratulations, homebuyer—you’re making a solid investment in your future. Of all the city’s neighborhoods, none have retained their value over the decades like these five.

    The Heights

    Houston’s oldest master-planned community remains one of its best-designed, possessing a thoughtful mix of commercial and residential development, all of it within minutes of downtown. Although the Heights’s designation as a historic district has preserved most of the Craftsman bungalows and Queen Anne mansions that give the neighborhood its distinctive look, a huge number of condo and townhome developments are springing up around them, bringing housing stock, and perhaps a hint of uncertainty, to this storied quarter’s future.

    Memorial

    Last year, Ed and Marie Bosarge’s Memorial-area villa, Chateau Carnarvon—modestly modeled after Versailles—was listed for sale at $43 million, the most expensive residential listing in Houston history. Even though the home was still on the market at press time, such an asking price provided further evidence that Memorial—with its exclusive subdivisions tucked into oak-shaded cul-de-sacs; expansive lawns; mix of mid-century modern ranch homes and traditional manses; and public schools par excellence—is as hot as ever.

    Meyerland

    Historically the epicenter of Houston’s Jewish population, Meyerland’s relative affordability, excellent schools, and convenient location just outside Loop 610 have made it one of the city’s safest bets for buyers. There’s no more familiar sound in the neighborhood these days than the demolition of 1960s-era ranch houses, razed to build two- and three-story mansions, but there is preservation, too, in spots. The New York Times recently lauded the smart and sensitive renovation of a Meyerland mod by local architecture firm Stern + Bucek.

    Montrose

    As we’ve reported before, everyone who moves to this Inner Loop mainstay soon has the sense that they’ve arrived too late. (Montrose in the ’70s wasn’t nearly as hip/welcoming/cheap as it was in the ’60s, the ’80s weren’t as H/W/C as the ’70s, and so on.) Nevertheless, this longtime home of Houston’s counterculture is still one of the hottest neighborhoods in town, like it or not—and some Montrosians really don’t like it, especially as prices have risen with the heat. But you can’t blame the landed gentry. Snagging a townhome or bungalow here means living within walking distance of some of Houston’s trendiest shops, clubs, and restaurants.

    River Oaks

    Believe it or not, River Oaks isn’t located in Houston’s wealthiest zip code—that would be 77005, home to West U, Southampton, and the gated Shadyside enclave. But an address in this ultra-exclusive neighborhood of winding streets and sprawling estates still represents the pinnacle of privilege in Houston. And down the road from Downton, there are still bargains to be had. After all, a three-story townhome off S. Shepherd Drive hit the market at just under $1 million in February. (Did we say bargains? We meant relative bargains.)

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    The Energy Corridor offers work and play.
    The Energy Corridor offers work and play.

    Town & Country

    Lusting after a larger home but not willing to part with urban amenities? These neighborhoods offer the best of both worlds—not to mention great local schools.

    Cinco Ranch

    Thoroughly modern master-planned Cinco features not one but three waterparks and numerous green initiatives, among them a natural filtering system for runoff and a tree farm. Given the first-rate education options, large custom homes on oversized lots, and thriving business climate—Trader Joe’s opened its fourth Houston location in the tony LaCenterra shopping center in February—it’s easy to see why this Katy community has become a popular place for locals to call home.

    Energy Corridor

    Houston may be the Energy Capital of the World, but many of its oil and gas companies are located outside the city proper, often in the aptly named Energy Corridor along the Katy Freeway, west of Beltway 8. As a result, there’s an oil boom of another kind there—in commercial and retail construction, including the ever-growing and wildly popular CityCentre. Naturally, this has led to a dramatic increase in home values, thanks in part to the lush neighborhoods along Memorial Drive, which have some of the most beautiful, leafy, bayou-backing lots in the city, as well as the top-notch Spring Branch ISD schools.

    Idylwood

    A jewel in Houston’s historic East End, Idylwood is a quiet neighborhood. (How could it not be? It’s bordered on three sides by a golf course, a bayou, and a convent!) It’s also a small one, at only 340 homes, which may be why the neighborhood flies below the radar of so many homebuyers. But the quality of the housing stock and close-in location ought to give pause to potential homeowners of every stripe.

    Pearland

    Once a sprawling prairie, Pearland is now one of the fastest-growing communities in the country. With a population expected to double by 2025, small wonder that critically acclaimed restaurants like Killen’s are succeeding here and TxDOT is considering expanding Highway 288. Best of all, unlike its master-planned brethren, Pearland retains the genuine feel of the 19th-century small town it once was, though you won’t find many pears growing there today.

    Sugar Land

    Fort Bend County has been called the most diverse in the nation, and Sugar Land is its throbbing economic heart. Despite possessing some of the most lavish and pricey homesteads in Houstonia, Sugar Land can be surprisingly affordable. These days, small family homes and mom-and-pop establishments can be found abutting mansions owned by pro athletes and Fortune 500 execs. This Houston suburb, it would seem, has something for everyone.

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    Bay Oaks homes back up to a beautiful golf course.
    Bay Oaks homes back up to a beautiful golf course.

    Livable Luxury

    There’s nothing wrong with having Champagne tastes and a Prosecco budget, as long as you find a bargain—they’re still out there, we’re told—in one of these lower-priced alternatives to Houston’s most highly sought-after neighborhoods. (Did we say bargain? We meant…)

    Bay Oaks

    One of the most exclusive luxury neighborhoods in Clear Lake, this suburb of a suburb features 700 acres of beautiful custom homes, as well as a challenging private golf course that surrounds and bisects this community of sprawling houses on equally sprawling lots. Oh, and that course is just one of many amenities offered by the posh, members-only Bay Oaks Country Club.

    Braeswood Place

    This oft-overlooked Inner Loop neighborhood boasts one of the best locations in the city. While its neighbors West University Place and Bellaire might be more coveted, this quaint sliver of elegance, complete with good schools and good-sized lots, might be the last, best bang for the buck, at least inside 610.

    Cottage Grove

    If there is a heaven for young professionals, it probably looks a lot like Cottage Grove, with its proximity to Memorial Park, Washington Avenue, and downtown. And so, for better or worse, the quiet, tree-lined grove is rapidly giving way to townhouses that are selling like hotcakes, the neighborhood’s combination of city and forest having proved irresistible.

    Klein

    Long in the shadow of its better-known neighbors—Spring, Tomball, and The Woodlands—Klein is at last coming into its own, achieving a popularity that would no doubt make native son Lyle Lovett proud. Like much of the surrounding area, Klein is filled with old-growth trees, and best seen from the narrow, winding roads that crisscross its enclaves and acreages. And speaking of trees, let’s go out on a limb here: Klein might be the closest thing Houston has to country living.

    Tanglewood

    Much like the city as a whole, Tanglewood is a laid-back spot that just happens to be home to some of the most influential people in the country, from CEOs to Houston Texans players. This tucked-away pocket of evergreen–covered properties and luxury residences is one of the city’s finest neighborhoods, with lovely old oak tree–lined streets and easy access to nearby shopping and dining in Uptown and the Galleria.

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    Cross Creek Ranch is home to plenty of natural park land.
    Cross Creek Ranch is home to plenty of natural park land.

    Exciting Exurbs

    For those who don’t mind a drive into town—that’s what toll tags are for, right?—Houston’s far-flung communities await, the best of which offer plenty more than a plenitude of large lots and handsome new homes.

    Aliana

    What sets this community in Richmond apart is the extras—not just a community pool, but also free swimming lessons; not merely a welcome center, but a bustling club offering everything from free cooking lessons to a ballroom for big events, not to mention monthly bunco and poker nights.

    Bridgeland

    Named the nation’s no. 1 master-planned community by the National Association of Homebuilders a few years back, this Cypress hot spot was designed by The Woodlands Development Company, which, in typical fashion, gave lavish attention to outdoor amenities—think 60 miles of interconnected nature trails, 400 acres of parks, 900 acres of lakes and waterways, plus canoes, kayaks, and bicycles available to rent and an activity center that offers a resort-style complex of pools and sport courts.

    Cross Creek Ranch

    If Houston is defined by its bayous, this development in Fulshear owes its life to a creek—Flewellen Creek—which winds its way through the greatest far west Houston community to ever have Westpark Tollway access. The creek and its adjacent park land have been restored and beautified with the addition of 4,500 trees, native grasses, and hike and bike trails, creating a thriving natural eco-system.

    Riverstone

    No matter the homestead of your dreams, you can find it in this Fort Bend County community: townhomes, multi-family units in an urban-inspired setting, low-maintenance patio homes, sprawling custom estates. It’s that variety, we think, combined with the area’s growing national reputation as an exciting, diverse, and safe place to raise a family, that’s making Riverstone the top-selling planned community in Texas.

    Sedona Lakes

    Developer Landeavor was so inspired by the red rock formations for which this neighborhood is named, it trucked natural stone all the way from Arizona to Manvel. The 900-home community of desert beauty is designed to maintain a small-town feel, despite being just a 30-minute drive from the Texas Medical Center and a stone’s throw away from Pearland Town Center.

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    Westview Terrace is still affordable—for now.
    Westview Terrace is still affordable—for now.

    Under the Wire

    Get in now while you still can; these inner-city neighborhoods are on the cusp of change—and that means you can get a deal on their historic homes, beautiful bungalows, or trendy townhomes if you act fast.

    First Ward

    Chances are good that 2015 will see a battle for the very soul of the historic First Ward. Will it continue to make innovative use of the old industrial buildings in the neighborhood, like the proliferating art studios that have recently lent it that slick new Arts District moniker? Will the new historic district [see p. 66] slow the encroachment of stucco townhomes amongst century-old single-family dwellings? Whatever the outcome of the tussle, we can’t believe that buyers won’t still be betting on this funky, close-to-everything part of town.

    Independence Heights

    As prices rise in neighboring Garden Oaks and Oak Forest, Independence Heights—which boasts the same sort of modest homes and mature trees—has seen a section of itself designated a tiny historic district (as well it should; it was originally founded as its own city over 100 years ago), along with new investment that will change it forever. On the plus side, the Independence Art Studios were birthed from former shipping containers, the Kipper Club Test Kitchen and other new culinary adventures have established themselves, and Booker T. Washington High School, an engineering magnet, is getting a much-needed expansion.

    Lindale Park

    Say what you will about homeowners associations, the active and community-oriented civic club in Lindale Park is a big reason why the neighborhood remains a gem unmatched in the Near Northside. Most of its modest bungalows date back to the late ’40s, and residents are taking advantage of new city rules about minimum lot size to prevent developers from replacing them with those much-maligned townhouses and condos.

    Third Ward

    Unique in its historical and cultural importance to the city, The Tre’s present-day trajectory is a familiar one. Which is to say that it’s a neighborhood torn—between developers eager to gobble up inner-city real estate and long-time residents intent on saving the Third Ward’s character amidst the influx of capital. For now, people are betting on the best of the Ward to win new homeowners: an enviable location matched only by its glittering downtown views.

    Westview Terrace

    This neighborhood has long served as a microcosm of Houston, with its mix of leafy residential streets and enormous, not-so-leafy apartment complexes, and matchless ethnic smorgasbord (see Long Point Road). Zoned to the highly desired Spring Branch ISD and close to hot new developments like CityCentre and Gateway Memorial City, Westview is currently seeing developers snatching up decrepit apartment complexes and razing them in favor of luxe new single-family homes boasting prices to rival nearby Memorial.


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    The down and dirty on the town’s dozen newest high-rises, offering livability and luxury for lease.

    All photos courtesy the building developer, except where noted.

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    One Park Place overlooks Discovery Green.

    In a city that only thinks big, the only way to truly make an architectural statement is with a skyscraper. Or, better yet, nine of them.

    That’s how many new residential high-rises are scheduled to be built in Houston’s downtown district by 2018 (including the recently completed SkyHouse). Combine that figure with the 10 additional mid-rises that are either under construction or on the boards, and downtown’s population—currently sitting at 4,000—is expected to triple in the next three to four years, according to Houston Downtown Management District director of marketing Angie Bertinot.

    “Finally, it’s our turn,” she said. Between all the new residential structures and the 23—at press time—hotels and office towers in various stages of development, downtown will be a vastly different and better place, Bertinot believes. “As we start filling in parking lots and connecting these areas, the entire experience is going to be tremendously improved.”

    Credit the Downtown Living Initiative for the all the activity, at least in part. Adopted by the City Council in 2012, the DLI was a response to an Urban Land Institute study showing that the biggest factors inhibiting Houston’s downtown residential growth were higher land prices and construction costs in the urban core. Hence the initiative, which offered developers rebates of $15,000 per unit to build downtown. Initially, Bertinot said, the Downtown District thought they would be lucky to hit their original allotment of 2,500 new units. After surprisingly intense interest from developers, however, the city extended the tax break to cover 5,000 units, the last of which were claimed by projects approved in February.

    The new high-rises are the kind of option that Gail Rubin was looking for when she moved back to Houston from New York in 2003, though she didn’t like her options at the time. The PR executive ended up in Montrose for over a decade before finally moving into a historic downtown building this year.

    “I wanted to experience living in a loft environment in Houston,” she said. “I love the traffic. I love being able to walk and go get a drink, and there’s people and the sound of construction. There’s just something about the sound and the hum of an urban environment that’s comforting to me.”

    For James Jackson, who works as the technical director at Lakewood Church, it was the history of the buildings that drew him downtown. “My grandfather was an executive at Humble Oil, so when I was looking, that place had an opening, and I thought it would be cool to live in the building he worked in,” he said. Several years in Humble Tower lofts was followed by a stint in the Heights before Jackson and his girlfriend Evelyn Lozano returned downtown to live in the former Nabisco factory near Minute Maid Park—complete with cement slabs on the floor where giant ovens used to be.

    While all the new skyscrapers and mid-rises will by definition lack a certain historical charm, Jackson hopes that they will still prove attractive, particularly with young renters, who until recently had few options downtown. That’s what Bertinot expects too—younger residents, if not necessarily less affluent ones.

    Marketing professional Nora Villareal has lived in the Hogg Palace on Louisiana Street near Market Square for over five years, and said that not all the changes downtown—including the noise and constant street closures caused by the under-construction Market Square Tower across the street from her apartment—are positive.

    Parking is increasingly an issue, for example, and the crowds drawn to the new downtown bars have also drawn more crime to the neighborhood. (“When I moved in, there was no one really around to mess with,” she said. “Who were they going to rob? Gary, the homeless guy who sits outside my building?”)

    And then there’s the food issue. Despite the opening of Phoenicia Specialty Foods in One Park Place in 2011, the lack of a traditional grocery store (or even a well-stocked convenience store, in some areas) is still a source of frustration for the residents.

    Still, ask downtown dwellers why they made the move, and you’ll get lots of answers. Some mention the easy access to the Midtown nightlife scene, the Montrose restaurant scene, and both airports. Others praise the convenience of the bike trails and light rail connecting them to other parts of the city. But for all of them, the attraction is, at its core, something a little harder to define. They like the vibe, the feeling of existing in a part of the city where pavement is all and the idea of mowing a lawn is about as distant as the suburbs lurking on the city’s periphery.


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    Four Square Design Studio in the historic First Ward
    Four Square Design Studio in the historic First Ward

    In 2009, Evan Michaelides and his wife Laura purchased a late-19th-century Queen Anne cottage for $137,500 near the corner of Summer Street and Silver Street in Houston’s First Ward, a working-class neighborhood just west of downtown that was originally established in 1840 as one of the city’s original four political wards. Although the house was in poor repair, the couple decided not to tear it down, instead taking the house down to its studs and starting over, restoring and replacing the original wainscoting and pine floors, and installing new, historically authentic windows and trim. The house is now the office for the Michaelides’s company, Four Square Design Studio, which, appropriately enough, specializes in creating the construction drawings and providing the design work necessary for faithful renovations. The couple is currently renovating a separate house to live in; until then, they’re living in Woodland Heights.

    Although they had bought during the Great Recession, the economy soon began to perk up, as did land-hungry developers with their eyes on the First Ward’s prime location. “The area had been depressed for some time, but then a few years ago it started to bounce back from the recession and a lot of old homes were razed to build townhomes,” Evan Michaelides said. “Some of the homes were in bad shape, but many were in really good condition and were capable of being restored. They were built well, out of really good materials.”

    In 2013, the couple started a campaign to have the neighborhood designated a historic district by the city, which would prevent homes from being demolished and limit the changes that could be made to existing structures. Although they found substantial support from some of their neighbors, others worried that the designation would hurt property values and limit renovation options. Historic districts have preservation manuals that regulate everything from the height of buildings to the permissible building materials.

    “They don’t have to be oppressive, but there do have to be rules,” said developer and prominent preservationist Bob Fretz. “How else do you enforce the whole premise of a historic district?”

    One of the people who fought the Michaelides’s plan was Alexandra Orzeck, who owns three properties in the First Ward, including the four-plex in which she’s lived since 2011. “I definitely believe the integrity of the neighborhood should be maintained,” she said. “But it reaches a point where it’s impractical—in historic districts now, some people can’t even replace their windows because that interferes with the integrity of the house. I maintain the integrity of my house, but I like doing it on my own terms, without it being dictated by a historic society.”

    Orzeck knows the downside to being in a historic district first-hand: she owned 10 properties in the Heights when the neighborhood was declared a historic district in 2010, and said she had difficulty selling them because of restrictions. “Who is going to want to buy into these neighborhoods in 20 years? Who’s going to want to buy a house where they can’t make changes?”—at least changes that aren’t allowed by the historic district guidelines.

    Last May, the City Council voted to grant historic status to the so-called High First Ward—an oddly shaped area comprising 55 single-family homes and duplexes built between 1890 and 1930. The city’s 22nd historic district isn’t as large or as contiguous as the Michaelides had hoped, but they viewed it as a good start. None of Orzeck’s properties were included in the district. As for the naysayers’ prediction that property values would be depressed, well…

    “It’s quite the opposite,” said Michaelides. “People have been attracted to the fact that it’s a historic district, and we’ve seen a lot of homes restored. The pace has really picked up, which is not a surprise, because if you look at other neighborhoods that are historic districts, they’ve done very well. Go to Woodland Heights or the Sixth Ward, and tell me if those look like depressed areas.”


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    Neighborhoods & Real Estate

    The Houston Association of Realtors provided our list of 150 neighborhoods. HAR divides the entire area into 160 separate neighborhoods; we trimmed 10 that were on the distant periphery of Houstonia. Our real estate data—including median home prices, percentage growth, and average days on the market—also came from HAR. Percentage of owner-occupied homes and percentage of home mortgages that are fully paid off comes from the 2010 United States Census.

    People

    Demographic data—including neighborhood population, median income, and percentage of residents below the poverty line in each neighborhood—comes from the 2010 U.S. Census and the 2013 American Community Survey. 

    Schools

    The grades we’ve assigned to neighborhood schools reflect HAR’s ranking system. HAR uses a star system based on TAKS data (Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills), with one star being the lowest rating and four stars being the highest. We’ve translated HAR’s star ranking into a traditional letter system—A, B, C, and D—in order to come up with each neighborhood’s grade for elementary, middle, and high schools in each ZIP code. 

    Lifestyle

    Walkability scores come from the website walkscore.com, which uses a 100-point rating system (higher is better). Scores reflect an average for each ZIP code. Other lifestyle data—including percentage of residents with bachelor’s degrees and percentage using public transportation—come from the 2010 U.S. Census. The number of CrossFit gyms, Starbucks and number of parks per ZIP code was compiled by Houstonia staff using Google Maps, starbucks.com and crossfit.com.

    Market Area ZIP Code 2014 Median Home Price % Growth 2010-2014 % Growth 2013-2014 Avg. Days on Market in 2014 Population % Owner Occupied Median Income Median Age % Below Poverty Line % Unemployed % of Population Under 14 % Enrolled in Private Schools Grade for Elementary Schools Grade for Middle Schools Grade for High Schools Walkability Score % Using Public Transportation % Carpooling Mean Travel Time to Work % with Bachelor's Degree No. of Crossfit Gyms No. of Parks No. of Starbucks
    1960/Cypress 77065 $150,000 21.95% 4.20% 29.0 37,344 49.48% $54,091 33.4 12.26% 4.99% 22.50% 8.40% A+ N/A N/A N/A 1.60% 11.12% 27.07 27.28% 1 2 4
    Aldine Area 77039 $112,500 32.35% 25.00% 46.3 28,151 60.32% $38,167 27.2 29.99% 11.37% 27.80% 2.73% A+ A B+ N/A 1.42% 12.66% 29.53 3.58% 0 10 0
    Alief 77072 $126,750 39.29% 15.20% 39.1 56,199 46.49% $35,462 32.2 25.85% 10.16% 22.72% 4.21% A+ A+ B+ 48 4.62% 14.47% 28.51 14.21% 2 5 0
    Alvin North 77511 $193,471 22.20% 13.80% 61.6 46,889 71.63% $52,507 35.2 15.68% 8.22% 21.87% 5.33% A+ A B+ 23 0.08% 8.98% 30.36 14.97% 1 1 0
    Alvin South 77511 $140,000 25.00% 11.10% 59.6 46,889 71.63% $52,507 35.2 15.68% 8.22% 21.87% 5.33% A+ A B+ 23 0.08% 8.98% 30.36 14.97% 1 4 1
    Angelina County 75901 $132,000 103.08% 131.40% 59.6 29,847 64.45% $41,809 33.9 23.30% 9.91% 22.11% 7.34% A+ A+ B+ 26 0.22% 15.65% 18.33 14.36% 0 7 1
    Atascocita North 77346 $170,000 30.77% 19.30% 36.5 54,627 81.79% $86,523 33.6 4.40% 4.72% 24.87% 12.89% A+ A+ B+ 23 1.13% 7.15% 31.41 35.68% 4 0 4
    Atascocita South 77396 $176,000 17.33% 6.70% 37.3 45,778 64.76% $56,575 30.1 13.57% 8.36% 27.28% 9.92% A+ N/A N/A 20 2.35% 13.26% 30.24 24.70% 0 0 2
    Bacliff/San Leon 77518 $138,500 45.18% 3.80% 75.7 7,815 65.75% $40,612 34.6 22.96% 9.81% 22.98% 5.43% A+ N/A N/A N/A 0.49% 14.75% 30.73 15.24% 1 2 0
    Bayou Vista 77563 $192,500 28.38% 4.90% 84.7 9,839 69.12% $50,498 40.8 19.85% 9.89% 21.92% 8.95% B+ A+ B+ N/A 0.33% 9.49% 24.88 13.91% 0 0 0
    Baytown/Chambers County 77521 $143,000 17.04% 5.90% 60.5 50,406 65.24% $53,726 32.2 17.87% 11.66% 25.27% 8.98% A+ A+ B+ 29 0.65% 10.20% 23.85 16.75% 0 0 3
    Baytown/Harris County 77520 $125,900 24.78% 9.60% 60.1 37,735 62.50% $43,409 32.1 21.81% 12.36% 24.26% 4.62% A+ A+ B+ 29 0.64% 12.39% 23.67 10.71% 1 6 0
    Bear Creek 77449 $135,000 28.57% 12.50% 28.3 95,615 76.69% $65,420 30.2 12.38% 9.33% 27.45% 8.94% A+ A+ B+ N/A 1.15% 13.33% 32.91 22.22% 0 1 0
    Bellaire 77401 $882,000 26.00% 10.40% 40.3 17,874 84.36% $144,821 41.9 2.84% 4.05% 22.00% 48.40% A+ A+ B+ 48 0.81% 7.19% 19.64 76.14% 0 7 1
    Braeswood Place 77025 $700,000 55.21% 13.50% 22.8 26,379 45.94% $65,828 35.3 9.81% 6.82% 19.35% 28.55% A+ A+ N/A 51 5.53% 8.53% 21.97 65.37% 1 6 4
    Brays Oaks 77031 $188,000 48.03% 19.40% 34.7 18,079 45.69% $39,278 30.5 25.14% 9.25% 26.35% 8.05% A+ N/A N/A 34 5.45% 29.16% 27.37 22.49% 0 6 1
    Briargrove 77057 $777,000 42.49% 12.00% 24.4 39,903 33.73% $54,594 33.5 19.47% 5.87% 16.20% 26.79% A+ B+ B+ 60 4.88% 12.76% 22.11 50.37% 0 0 3
    Briargrove Park/Walnut Bend 77042 $381,000 36.07% 12.10% 21.7 36,583 29.75% $46,159 31.5 16.74% 8.10% 17.80% 17.76% A A+ N/A 45 3.77% 6.96% 25.64 42.75% 0 2 0
    Briarmeadow/Tanglewilde 77063 $264,000 40.65% 12.30% 23.0 35,961 27.27% $49,873 33.0 19.27% 6.52% 16.45% 22.04% A+ A+ N/A 56 7.15% 8.67% 24.59 44.61% 3 3 2
    Brookshire 77423 $160,000 5.61% -17.50% 81.5 9,587 59.30% $36,667 33.1 25.43% 8.72% 27.29% 9.39% A+ A+ B+ N/A 1.07% 14.89% 27.08 10.24% 0 0 0
    Chambers County East 77514 $122,000 5.17% -7.90% 81.0 4,315 81.87% $44,375 41.6 10.47% 8.33% 16.64% 9.79% A+ A+ B+ N/A 0.00% 4.81% 27.42 13.43% 0 4 0
    Chambers County West 77523 $244,000 31.01% 11.00% 73.8 18,668 82.66% $90,229 33.5 7.98% 7.37% 27.02% 6.64% N/A N/A N/A 29 0.00% 6.52% 32.82 21.00% 2 3 0
    Champions Area 77069 $210,000 20.00% 13.50% 42.1 16,088 61.20% $68,495 47.7 9.02% 4.53% 13.64% 25.29% A+ N/A N/A N/A 4.11% 5.69% 30.96 48.55% 1 3 4
    Charnwood/Briarbend 77063 $745,000 73.88% 29.60% 35.3 35,961 27.27% $49,873 33.0 19.27% 6.52% 16.45% 22.04% A+ A+ N/A 56 7.15% 8.67% 24.59 44.61% 0 0 0
    Clear Lake Area 77062 $196,500 9.62% 6.20% 41.6 25,866 80.28% $87,960 38.7 7.72% 6.93% 19.16% 18.33% A+ A+ N/A 33 0.82% 9.13% 22.74 50.14% 11 11 2
    Cleveland Area 77327 $100,000 51.52% 22.10% 81.8 20,829 74.84% $46,936 35.2 22.08% 14.72% 23.57% 6.13% A A B+ N/A 0.00% 17.31% 34.48 8.45% 0 1 0
    Coldspring/South San Jacinto County 77331 $96,000 37.14% 9.10% 113.9 6,219 89.45% $41,596 54.5 16.88% 8.86% 15.42% 2.34% A+ B+ B+ N/A 0.22% 10.22% 37.23 17.37% 0 1 0
    Conroe Northeast 77301 $136,000 38.07% 11.00% 54.8 31,060 48.38% $34,097 29.9 32.03% 8.56% 26.55% 5.88% A+ A+ B+ 26 0.62% 23.24% 25.86 8.62% 0 1 0
    Conroe Southeast 77301 $155,750 20.21% 7.40% 56.1 31,060 48.38% $34,097 29.9 32.03% 8.56% 26.55% 5.88% A+ A+ B+ 26 0.62% 23.24% 25.86 8.62% 0 4 0
    Conroe Southwest 77304 $339,990 44.68% 21.40% 58.9 23,192 57.00% $58,774 36.6 11.81% 3.32% 19.55% 21.08% A+ A+ B+ 26 1.09% 16.97% 25.14 32.31% 2 1 3
    Copperfield Area 77095 $185,000 20.92% 8.80% 27.6 68,458 72.17% $89,393 34.5 8.09% 6.12% 24.26% 10.72% A+ A+ B+ N/A 1.30% 12.46% 33.83 42.72% 3 0 0
    Cottage Grove 77007 $385,388 45.48% 20.80% 45.7 30,868 49.72% $98,725 34.6 9.53% 3.80% 9.89% 30.64% A+ N/A B+ 67 1.98% 8.95% 20.92 64.90% 2 1 5
    Crosby Area 77532 $156,000 24.90% 16.40% 61.3 27,208 77.70% $63,236 34.5 11.84% 7.98% 23.79% 11.11% A+ A+ B 38 0.25% 11.29% 30.59 17.02% 1 6 1
    Crystal Beach 77650 $235,000 10.85% -2.10% 152.6 1,349 81.89% $79,000 44.3 25.04% 8.36% 16.01% 0.00% A+ N/A N/A N/A 0.00% 24.70% 24.12 9.52% 0 0 0
    Cypress North 77429 $220,000 25.71% 15.30% 36.1 74,313 82.69% $96,695 34.0 4.09% 3.28% 26.25% 9.45% A+ A+ B+ N/A 2.17% 7.82% 31.80 45.15% 7 6 5
    Cypress South 77433 $246,850 55.25% 9.70% 50.9 55,563 83.95% $89,258 30.8 5.88% 5.42% 29.78% 8.93% A+ A+ B+ N/A 1.69% 11.08% 35.08 43.20% 3 0 2
    Dayton 77535 $128,000 11.55% 15.30% 73.5 31,019 79.80% $54,553 36.6 15.80% 10.21% 18.21% 8.64% A+ A B+ 28 0.00% 11.31% 37.24 6.68% 0 5 0
    Deer Park 77536 $154,950 14.78% 13.50% 37.8 31,295 78.47% $77,824 35.5 7.54% 7.59% 22.84% 7.37% A+ A+ B+ 31 0.23% 7.90% 22.89 20.23% 1 2 2
    Denver Harbor 77020 $69,000 67.12% 53.30% 62.4 26,889 51.69% $29,401 32.5 34.85% 12.04% 26.48% 3.44% A- A N/A 56 4.51% 19.73% 28.22 7.22% 0 4 0
    Dickinson 77539 $137,000 4.02% 5.80% 71.0 40,368 73.92% $66,129 35.1 13.75% 9.25% 22.82% 9.67% A+ A+ B+ 26 0.74% 10.95% 29.45 22.69% 1 3 1
    East End-Galveston 77550 $148,000 23.33% -1.70% 71.1 22,759 39.74% $32,447 36.0 31.75% 13.75% 16.78% 7.09% A B B+ 59 2.40% 10.57% 18.54 25.96% 2 5 1
    Eldridge North 77041 $188,000 -7.39% 7.50% 24.4 36,805 79.64% $70,608 34.1 13.19% 8.29% 24.52% 15.86% A+ N/A B+ N/A 1.65% 8.98% 27.67 33.77% 2 1 0
    Energy Corridor 77007 $320,000 36.11% 14.50% 23.4 30,868 49.72% $98,725 34.6 9.53% 3.80% 9.89% 30.64% A+ N/A B+ 67 1.98% 8.95% 20.92 64.90% 4 4 5
    Fall Creek Area 77396 $301,613 16.01% 4.00% 52.5 45,778 64.76% $56,575 30.1 13.57% 8.36% 27.28% 9.92% A+ N/A N/A 20 2.35% 13.26% 30.24 24.70% 1 1 0
    Five Corners 77045 $121,250 34.72% 21.30% 45.8 32,650 67.87% $36,952 31.2 29.57% 15.55% 25.45% 7.54% A+ A+ C+ N/A 4.20% 9.51% 29.31 13.61% 0 6 0
    Fort Bend County North/Richmond 77469 $235,000 29.91% 14.20% 50.4 36,305 72.84% $67,088 33.4 11.70% 4.42% 21.85% 13.82% A+ A+ B+ 24 0.28% 12.03% 29.64 25.10% 18 1 1
    Fort Bend Southeast 77469 $331,250 3.84% 30.40% 33.7 36,305 72.84% $67,088 33.4 11.70% 4.42% 21.85% 13.82% A+ A+ B+ 24 0.28% 12.03% 29.64 25.10% 18 1 0
    Friendswood 77546 $203,094 17.74% 8.00% 42.7 49,255 81.17% $98,442 38.6 4.53% 5.33% 21.57% 10.65% A A+ B+ 17 1.28% 9.80% 30.13 46.70% 2 5 3
    Fulshear/South Brookshire/Simonton 77441 $400,000 12.76% 8.80% 76.3 5,409 92.73% $123,703 45.1 4.11% 3.65% 21.67% 23.15% A+ N/A N/A N/A 0.67% 7.75% 36.50 55.23% 1 2 0
    Galleria 77056 $617,500 28.65% 8.30% 50.4 17,263 45.78% $93,069 40.8 4.51% 5.05% 8.86% 42.32% A+ A+ N/A 63 3.14% 4.54% 20.09 73.67% 3 3 6
    Garden Oaks 77015 $382,000 41.48% 6.40% 31.6 57,096 55.32% $44,167 28.5 23.26% 12.24% 27.17% 4.92% A+ A+ N/A N/A 0.76% 14.45% 25.21 10.20% 2 6 0
    Greenway Plaza 77046 $775,000 114.47% 70.30% 24.0 1,122 36.57% $85,493 37.6 5.26% 0.00% 4.72% 10.00% N/A N/A N/A 82 1.86% 4.43% 15.37 73.22% 2 0 1
    Gulfton 77081 $160,100 -47.85% 18.60% 63.2 42,725 5.99% $26,741 29.3 38.62% 9.19% 26.63% 5.92% A- A B+ 64 9.39% 18.41% 26.77 17.03% 1 1 1
    Heights/Greater Heights 77008 $435,000 40.37% 16.00% 42.7 30,807 54.06% $70,293 35.9 9.20% 4.54% 14.44% 24.30% A+ A+ B+ 66 2.89% 7.53% 21.73 54.92% 13 7 2
    Hempstead 77445 $112,500 -2.17% -11.80% 126.0 12,526 67.74% $43,066 33.9 22.22% 14.33% 18.82% 16.68% A+ A+ C+ N/A 0.00% 12.25% 29.91 19.11% 0 0 0
    Highland Village/Midlane 77027 $710,000 34.57% -5.60% 53.7 15,455 34.46% $81,661 37.4 5.94% 5.29% 7.21% 39.66% N/A N/A N/A 69 1.99% 6.04% 19.30 72.40% 1 0 4
    Hitchcock 77563 $129,500 14.60% 21.60% 91.1 9,839 69.12% $50,498 40.8 19.85% 9.89% 21.92% 8.95% B+ A+ B+ N/A 0.33% 9.49% 24.88 13.91% 0 3 0
    Hobby Area 77061 $95,000 14.60% 11.80% 52.7 24,760 36.44% $34,566 30.1 29.19% 10.44% 24.54% 5.19% B+ A+ B+ 50 5.42% 12.48% 28.58 10.80% 0 11 0
    Hockley 77447 $139,000 40.40% 16.00% 43.8 13,542 86.04% $65,682 33.0 14.89% 5.39% 27.30% 10.72% A+ N/A N/A N/A 0.53% 12.20% 40.26 14.35% 0 1 0
    Huffman Area 77336 $180,000 35.08% -1.00% 57.9 12,022 75.91% $62,995 36.0 9.67% 7.82% 24.50% 7.11% A+ A+ B+ N/A 1.58% 14.51% 36.39 19.88% 0 1 0
    Humble Area East 77338 $145,000 28.56% 8.70% 44.5 34,410 55.14% $48,046 31.7 16.15% 10.97% 23.55% 14.48% A+ A B+ N/A 1.36% 16.70% 26.80 19.45% 3 2 0
    Humble Area South 77338 $82,375 32.33% 8.40% 44.2 34,410 55.14% $48,046 31.7 16.15% 10.97% 23.55% 14.48% A+ A B+ N/A 1.36% 16.70% 26.80 19.45% 3 0 0
    Humble Area West 77338 $122,000 41.94% 25.10% 45.0 34,410 55.14% $48,046 31.7 16.15% 10.97% 23.55% 14.48% A+ A B+ N/A 1.36% 16.70% 26.80 19.45% 3 2 3
    Jersey Village 77040 $193,000 20.66% 4.90% 26.8 44,762 56.34% $53,194 32.2 13.36% 5.50% 21.40% 12.51% A+ A+ B+ N/A 1.76% 11.16% 26.56 23.99% 1 3 1
    Katy-North 77449 $157,000 30.83% 15.70% 29.6 95,615 76.69% $65,420 30.2 12.38% 9.33% 27.45% 8.94% A+ A+ B+ N/A 1.15% 13.33% 32.91 22.22% 1 4 2
    Katy-Old Towne 77493 $214,000 42.52% -3.40% 51.5 23,628 79.79% $78,452 32.9 11.53% 6.72% 23.89% 12.45% A+ A+ B+ N/A 1.83% 9.12% 29.68 26.89% 1 5 1
    Katy-Southeast 77450 $266,500 22.53% 8.80% 22.4 70,538 72.72% $100,957 36.4 5.73% 6.52% 24.01% 11.17% A+ A+ B+ N/A 3.34% 9.68% 30.14 52.84% 0 3 3
    Katy-Southwest 77494 $337,500 24.13% 10.70% 48.9 71,613 85.59% $126,425 34.4 2.81% 3.71% 29.32% 14.77% A+ A+ B+ N/A 2.13% 10.54% 33.52 64.57% 5 3 5
    Kingwood East 77345 $279,900 13.09% 12.00% 33.0 28,239 81.60% $119,708 41.3 2.97% 3.99% 21.34% 12.70% A+ A+ N/A 16 4.89% 7.69% 35.96 58.16% 0 1 2
    Kingwood NW/Oakhurst 77339 $256,754 15.34% 3.10% 66.1 39,840 64.58% $73,135 38.0 10.07% 7.04% 18.57% 12.18% A+ A+ B+ 23 1.93% 8.49% 29.31 40.49% 0 0 1
    Kingwood South 77338 $214,900 12.51% 13.10% 36.6 34,410 55.14% $48,046 31.7 16.15% 10.97% 23.55% 14.48% A+ A B+ 20 1.36% 16.70% 26.80 19.45% 0 0 0
    Kingwood West 77339 $169,500 16.90% 9.40% 31.5 39,840 64.58% $73,135 38.0 10.07% 7.04% 18.57% 12.18% A+ A+ B+ 23 1.93% 8.49% 29.31 40.49% 1 1 2
    Knollwood/Woodside Area 77025 $424,250 33.41% 13.10% 28.6 26,379 45.94% $65,828 35.3 9.81% 6.82% 19.35% 28.55% A+ A+ N/A 48 5.53% 8.53% 21.97 65.37% 0 2 4
    La Marque 77568 $81,950 3.47% 25.50% 71.8 14,645 72.60% $42,196 33.7 20.27% 13.17% 24.73% 5.20% A+ B+ C+ N/A 0.47% 10.38% 24.58 15.06% 1 7 0
    La Porte/Shoreacres 77571 $132,000 11.86% 3.90% 52.0 36,116 75.14% $68,102 35.6 10.33% 8.28% 21.69% 9.70% A+ A+ B+ 22 0.40% 10.79% 24.97 15.68% 0 5 1
    Lake Conroe Area 77356 $230,000 26.77% 16.30% 67.7 24,694 87.79% $78,353 47.4 7.51% 9.21% 17.62% 10.37% A+ A+ B+ N/A 0.46% 8.99% 35.35 39.99% 1 1 1
    Lake Livingston Area 77351 $119,900 10.76% 5.60% 128.5 33,044 80.22% $39,967 43.4 17.06% 12.10% 16.46% 10.74% A A+ B+ N/A 0.41% 15.19% 25.89 11.04% 0 2 0
    League City 77573 $212,750 15.00% 12.00% 46.7 73,615 75.15% $92,559 35.7 5.49% 5.05% 23.15% 11.11% A+ A+ B 16 1.04% 7.77% 28.99 43.35% 3 6 7
    Liberty 77575 $112,000 10.34% 28.00% 101.8 15,833 75.50% $42,765 37.2 17.05% 12.11% 21.43% 7.96% A+ A+ C+ N/A 0.00% 19.81% 27.69 14.57% 0 4 0
    Magnolia/1488 East 77354 $243,000 13.02% -2.80% 53.5 32,363 86.23% $75,269 36.7 12.51% 8.75% 24.30% 13.99% A+ A+ B+ N/A 1.29% 10.41% 35.92 28.82% 2 0 2
    Magnolia/1488 West 77355 $227,000 33.53% 13.50% 66.0 25,007 82.68% $71,326 38.5 12.10% 9.97% 22.92% 11.19% A+ A B+ N/A 0.49% 7.96% 37.72 21.35% 1 2 0
    Medical Center Area 77030 $328,000 38.11% 12.70% 24.6 11,031 42.65% $68,980 32.8 12.51% 4.31% 15.96% 34.58% A+ N/A N/A 49 9.21% 10.11% 19.09 80.93% 0 3 1
    Medical Center South 77051 $99,900 50.28% 20.40% 64.5 14,782 38.91% $22,920 36.0 36.58% 22.87% 21.41% 5.11% A+ B+ C+ 37 8.82% 7.36% 25.63 8.70% 0 9 0
    Memorial Close In 77024 $2,200,000 137.84% 93.80% 69.8 35,367 70.98% $111,139 44.3 3.58% 4.18% 19.61% 30.69% A+ A+ B+ 7 0.67% 4.76% 20.71 70.66% 0 1 6
    Memorial Park 77007 $1,270,000 33.26% -5.90% 38.7 30,868 49.72% $98,725 34.6 9.53% 3.80% 9.89% 30.64% A+ N/A B+ 64 1.98% 8.95% 20.92 64.90% 2 3 5
    Memorial Villages 77024 $1,514,250 56.11% 26.20% 55.6 35,367 70.98% $111,139 44.3 3.58% 4.18% 19.61% 30.69% A+ A+ B+ 7 0.67% 4.76% 20.71 70.66% 1 1 6
    Memorial West 77079 $690,175 51.69% 15.00% 30.5 30,669 64.93% $95,589 40.3 5.39% 7.66% 20.27% 23.70% A+ A+ B+ 45 3.22% 6.33% 23.22 60.63% 3 5 3
    Meyerland Area 77096 $418,000 39.10% 13.00% 31.3 34,891 54.85% $63,346 37.6 14.32% 8.67% 20.30% 25.71% A+ B+ N/A 54 4.75% 6.18% 25.33 53.17% 1 3 2
    Midtown-Galveston 77550 $126,000 31.59% 12.50% 79.2 22,759 39.74% $32,447 36.0 31.75% 13.75% 16.78% 7.09% A B B+ 59 2.40% 10.57% 18.54 25.96% 0 3 0
    Midtown-Houston 77004 $380,000 43.67% 14.20% 65.8 31,593 31.01% $41,983 30.3 28.40% 10.96% 11.13% 15.42% A A+ B 81 10.28% 5.55% 21.05 45.65% 2 3 0
    Mission Bend Area 77083 $141,000 24.78% 15.60% 27.4 71,810 70.97% $53,879 32.0 15.80% 8.24% 24.13% 6.88% A+ A+ B+ 25 1.53% 11.59% 31.58 23.81% 1 3 1
    Missouri City Area 77459 $168,000 38.78% 12.00% 40.7 58,197 87.99% $104,547 36.8 3.95% 5.22% 23.96% 14.92% A+ A+ B+ 22 2.34% 10.47% 32.54 52.02% 2 2 5
    Montrose 77006 $593,000 41.87% 18.90% 61.6 20,573 37.19% $67,458 35.1 12.29% 3.40% 6.83% 30.84% A+ N/A B+ 78 4.26% 6.01% 19.48 67.08% 5 7 2
    Near West End-Galveston 77554 $170,000 28.79% -8.10% 84.4 8,591 64.31% $64,583 48.9 9.69% 9.58% 7.89% 10.01% A+ N/A N/A 54 1.12% 13.61% 25.22 42.04% 0 2 0
    North Channel 77015 $108,950 22.25% 15.40% 52.2 57,096 55.32% $44,167 28.5 23.26% 12.24% 27.17% 4.92% A+ A+ N/A N/A 0.76% 14.45% 25.21 10.20% 1 12 0
    Northeast Houston 77028 $75,000 38.89% 31.60% 57.6 15,682 66.71% $29,389 38.4 25.49% 19.48% 19.88% 3.21% A+ N/A N/A 27 8.65% 8.30% 29.15 5.91% 0 15 0
    Northside 77092 $80,000 61.62% 36.80% 53.3 35,332 42.14% $37,314 31.7 28.39% 9.36% 23.82% 4.09% A- A+ C+ 51 3.93% 14.29% 25.42 15.14% 1 6 0
    Northwest Houston 77088 $115,100 29.33% 15.20% 45.7 52,924 64.12% $40,896 31.9 23.73% 13.38% 25.88% 5.37% A A B N/A 2.99% 12.13% 29.77 12.52% 1 13 0
    Oak Forest East Area 77018 $372,750 69.43% 22.40% 41.0 26,794 66.63% $61,980 37.8 18.09% 5.03% 19.56% 22.96% A+ A+ B 45 2.46% 9.16% 24.14 34.64% 1 4 1
    Oak Forest West Area 77092 $216,500 45.30% 25.50% 31.1 35,332 42.14% $37,314 31.7 28.39% 9.36% 23.82% 4.09% A- A+ C+ 50 3.93% 14.29% 25.42 15.14% 1 5 2
    Omega Bay 77563 $241,500 44.44% -4.50% 125.9 9,839 69.12% $50,498 40.8 19.85% 9.89% 21.92% 8.95% B+ A+ B+ N/A 0.33% 9.49% 24.88 13.91% 0 0 0
    Pasadena 77506 $115,000 22.47% 12.40% 47.7 35,875 40.23% $30,617 27.6 33.42% 13.62% 29.46% 1.00% A+ A+ B+ 43 0.41% 15.41% 25.20 4.13% 0 3 4
    Pearland 77581 $218,000 20.44% 13.00% 36.8 41,813 75.45% $83,709 36.1 5.72% 4.53% 23.38% 11.25% A+ A+ B+ 16 0.31% 7.62% 28.82 32.88% 5 5 8
    Plantersville Area 77363 $195,750 49.43% 41.80% 122.5 3,251 89.14% $46,842 38.5 23.82% 11.66% 28.11% 11.23% N/A N/A N/A N/A 0.00% 7.94% 40.43 12.16% 0 0 0
    Porter/New Caney East 77357 $159,500 78.22% 29.40% 64.8 19,992 75.78% $48,979 34.6 18.22% 13.09% 22.08% 8.67% A+ A+ B+ N/A 0.34% 16.89% 34.05 7.25% 0 1 0
    Porter/New Caney West 77365 $175,473 41.80% 12.50% 65.5 26,617 71.43% $58,109 33.8 18.87% 9.24% 23.15% 9.29% A+ A+ B+ N/A 0.25% 15.01% 27.74 15.64% 0 1 1
    Rice Military/Washington Corridor 77007 $460,000 33.33% 10.90% 41.5 30,868 49.72% $98,725 34.6 9.53% 3.80% 9.89% 30.64% A+ N/A B+ 64 1.98% 8.95% 20.92 64.90% 2 4 5
    Rice/Museum District 77005 $745,000 24.27% 11.30% 56.8 25,752 72.63% $159,732 38.5 2.83% 3.99% 19.24% 57.79% A+ N/A N/A N/A 0.86% 3.49% 17.05 82.13% 8 6 2
    River Oaks Area 77019 $1,888,750 55.77% 27.40% 75.1 19,995 48.86% $87,394 35.6 10.08% 3.39% 13.41% 51.12% A N/A B+ 70 2.75% 5.20% 18.41 69.49% 2 4 0
    Rivercrest 77042 $2,510,000 39.44% -32.90% 104.0 36,583 29.75% $46,159 31.5 16.74% 8.10% 17.80% 17.76% A A+ N/A 45 3.77% 6.96% 25.64 42.75% 0 0 1
    Riverside 77004 $300,000 85.19% 25.80% 54.7 31,593 31.01% $41,983 30.3 28.40% 10.96% 11.13% 15.42% A A+ B 63 10.28% 5.55% 21.05 45.65% 2 3 1
    Royden Oaks/Afton Oaks 77027 $800,100 -0.05% 14.70% 34.5 15,455 34.46% $81,661 37.4 5.94% 5.29% 7.21% 39.66% N/A N/A N/A 69 1.99% 6.04% 19.30 72.40% 1 0 4
    Santa Fe 77510 $151,000 12.69% 8.40% 62.5 13,605 84.42% $60,074 42.9 8.29% 13.92% 18.93% 7.70% A+ A+ N/A N/A 0.27% 7.30% 27.42 13.60% 1 2 0
    Sharpstown Area 77036 $159,000 41.96% 19.50% 30.0 68,373 20.77% $28,266 29.0 35.41% 12.42% 27.00% 4.09% A N/A N/A 59 5.34% 29.93% 26.00 16.14% 0 5 0
    Shepherd Park Plaza Area 77018 $395,600 46.52% 13.30% 27.6 26,794 66.63% $61,980 37.8 18.09% 5.03% 19.56% 22.96% A+ A+ B 45 2.46% 9.16% 24.14 34.64% 0 1 1
    Sienna Area 77459 $325,990 31.98% 14.40% 56.3 58,197 87.99% $104,547 36.8 3.95% 5.22% 23.96% 14.92% A+ A+ B+ 22 2.34% 10.47% 32.54 52.02% 2 0 0
    South Houston 77587 $80,000 -2.14% 24.00% 43.6 16,734 62.33% $36,083 26.6 31.36% 13.02% 28.34% 3.13% A+ A+ B+ 55 0.62% 17.48% 25.34 7.35% 0 3 0
    Southbelt/Ellington 77034 $137,000 19.13% 8.90% 40.1 35,514 52.39% $43,905 28.4 20.72% 9.18% 27.37% 8.84% A+ A+ N/A 42 2.11% 14.80% 27.76 13.13% 0 3 1
    Spring Branch 77055 $262,000 66.93% 20.20% 33.0 44,281 44.45% $46,987 32.8 27.31% 6.55% 25.93% 10.70% A+ B+ N/A 55 3.78% 14.85% 23.05 28.48% 3 12 2
    Spring East 77373 $129,000 34.73% 13.20% 38.0 55,927 76.41% $67,742 32.4 9.61% 7.82% 24.78% 6.53% A+ A+ B+ 16 1.66% 9.29% 29.94 19.97% 5 5 0
    Spring Northeast 77386 $215,000 32.31% 17.60% 42.7 42,574 79.90% $82,747 31.4 5.78% 4.44% 28.10% 11.73% A A+ N/A 16 2.25% 8.06% 33.66 38.55% 1 3 1
    Spring/Klein 77388 $203,000 34.44% 17.10% 43.5 40,175 87.81% $82,936 36.1 4.24% 5.48% 23.08% 12.70% A+ A+ B+ 16 2.68% 8.78% 31.09 34.21% 4 3 4
    Spring/Klein/Tomball 77375 $185,700 25.47% 8.00% 36.6 41,919 66.78% $60,782 31.8 11.73% 7.07% 29.23% 10.55% A+ A+ B+ 16 0.64% 10.05% 32.56 26.88% 12 1 1
    Stafford Area 77477 $129,000 26.47% 11.20% 38.3 36,043 45.02% $54,917 32.7 15.18% 6.44% 21.33% 12.30% A+ A+ B+ 33 2.47% 9.82% 25.70 33.02% 3 2 0
    Sugar Land East 77478 $287,500 26.10% 9.90% 31.6 23,853 80.66% $89,549 45.3 6.38% 5.43% 17.00% 19.00% A+ A+ B+ 24 2.75% 8.81% 26.93 49.96% 1 2 1
    Sugar Land North 77498 $183,000 22.00% 4.30% 44.6 52,545 71.58% $72,232 32.9 11.83% 5.38% 22.75% 13.33% A+ A+ B+ 24 1.32% 11.12% 28.92 32.62% 0 4 1
    Sugar Land South 77479 $442,667 43.72% 17.40% 32.3 78,289 84.13% $123,935 38.7 2.98% 4.59% 23.00% 19.20% A+ A+ B+ 24 2.03% 9.86% 29.96 59.90% 1 2 6
    Sugar Land West 77407 $307,113 23.14% 9.30% 39.8 31,973 84.01% $85,219 32.6 6.66% 6.53% 25.16% 18.46% A+ A+ B+ 24 1.13% 10.99% 34.74 42.82% 1 3 2
    Summerwood/Lakeshore 77044 $265,000 21.56% 13.50% 58.9 33,672 81.68% $72,761 29.2 14.98% 9.04% 30.35% 12.54% A+ A+ B+ N/A 1.89% 13.48% 31.14 24.37% 0 4 0
    Tanglewood Area 77056 $1,735,000 85.56% 36.70% 79.2 17,263 45.78% $93,069 40.8 4.51% 5.05% 8.86% 42.32% A+ A+ N/A 63 3.14% 4.54% 20.09 73.67% 0 0 1
    Texas City 77590 $89,500 37.69% 16.30% 80.1 29,980 59.78% $45,343 38.2 17.88% 12.82% 20.56% 7.58% N/A N/A N/A 30 0.15% 13.17% 22.13 11.09% 0 7 2
    The Woodlands 77380 $355,000 24.56% 10.00% 34.9 24,771 44.95% $67,616 36.3 10.07% 5.33% 19.27% 16.94% A+ A+ N/A 17 1.90% 9.84% 25.76 41.02% 2 12 15
    Tiki Island 77554 $388,750 3.67% -1.90% 105.6 8,591 64.31% $64,583 48.9 9.69% 9.58% 7.89% 10.01% A+ N/A N/A 54 1.12% 13.61% 25.22 42.04% 0 0 0
    Timbergrove/Lazybrook 77008 $400,000 46.17% 14.30% 24.8 30,807 54.06% $70,293 35.9 9.20% 4.54% 14.44% 24.30% A+ A+ B+ 48 2.89% 7.53% 21.73 54.92% 13 3 2
    Tomball 77375 $185,000 19.82% 5.40% 52.6 41,919 66.78% $60,782 31.8 11.73% 7.07% 29.23% 10.55% A+ A+ B+ 16 0.64% 10.05% 32.56 26.88% 4 5 3
    Treasure Island-Galveston 77541 $312,500 17.92% 30.10% 171.6 17,535 66.42% $39,304 34.5 24.40% 11.91% 22.91% 3.63% B A B+ 45 1.80% 10.26% 21.74 8.53% 0 0 0
    Trinity Area 75862 $55,950 -3.53% -10.50% 148.9 8,552 84.18% $35,011 53.1 14.56% 7.60% 14.49% 2.50% C+ A+ B+ 29 0.00% 12.86% 29.84 10.35% 2 3 0
    Tyler County 75979 $89,000 -2.47% 13.40% 115.9 11,576 74.94% $37,194 39.9 20.69% 16.27% 14.83% 7.93% A+ A+ B+ 32 0.64% 18.58% 26.78 11.69% 0 5 0
    University Area 77021 $112,000 124.45% 44.50% 60.5 25,479 41.41% $31,103 35.0 30.92% 15.42% 18.15% 9.49% A A+ B+ 50 10.53% 11.49% 23.61 22.43% 0 6 0
    Upper Kirby 77098 $830,000 22.97% 10.20% 35.9 12,720 29.85% $81,907 35.7 9.27% 4.89% 7.96% 29.15% A+ A+ B+ 81 4.67% 3.99% 20.74 73.63% 1 1 2
    Waller 77484 $168,250 55.43% 16.00% 86.6 10,898 71.00% $63,045 37.7 11.26% 3.68% 21.99% 21.75% A+ A+ B+ N/A 0.28% 4.53% 35.97 20.00% 0 0 0
    Washington East/Sabine 77007 $399,000 57.71% 21.30% 64.3 30,868 49.72% $98,725 34.6 9.53% 3.80% 9.89% 30.64% A+ N/A B+ 64 1.98% 8.95% 20.92 64.90% 1 0 5
    Webster 77598 $158,950 14.15% 2.50% 69.8 23,738 18.96% $46,682 28.7 14.72% 6.48% 22.55% 9.43% A+ N/A B+ 33 1.18% 13.39% 23.23 23.99% 3 1 4
    West End-Galveston 77554 $321,500 32.58% 16.80% 92.9 8,591 64.31% $64,583 48.9 9.69% 9.58% 7.89% 10.01% A+ N/A N/A 54 1.12% 13.61% 25.22 42.04% 0 4 0
    West University/Southside Area 77005 $1,116,551 45.95% 17.50% 32.0 25,752 72.63% $159,732 38.5 2.83% 3.99% 19.24% 57.79% A+ N/A N/A N/A 0.86% 3.49% 17.05 82.13% 7 3 3
    Westchase Area 77042 $705,000 12.80% 7.60% 62.4 36,583 29.75% $46,159 31.5 16.74% 8.10% 17.80% 17.76% A A+ N/A 50 3.77% 6.96% 25.64 42.75% 1 0 3
    Willis/New Waverly 77318/77378 $115,000 32.18% 25.00% 54.6 27,284 79.02% $63,165 40.7 15.52% 5.69% 19.87% 10.10% A+ A+ B+ N/A 0.00% 14.24% 31.61 21.23% 1 1 1
    Willow Meadows Area 77035 $293,450 34.00% 13.50% 27.8 35,699 43.46% $36,345 32.5 28.12% 13.11% 24.24% 7.78% A N/A C+ 40 8.17% 15.07% 26.47 25.88% 0 4 1
    Willowbrook 77064 $134,000 19.75% 13.10% 31.3 45,932 64.07% $62,610 33.4 11.05% 5.17% 22.11% 8.85% A+ A+ C+ 48 1.00% 11.84% 26.58 29.33% 1 2 3

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    Exploring the ins and outs of Houston's cultural hub.

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    Damien Mandola's Villa Antichità is an antique-filled haven in the Hill Country.

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    Bank of America will move into the new 750,000-square-foot, 35-story office tower downtown, the current state of Houston's commercial real estate scene notwithstanding.

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    Atelier Domingue shows how perfectly modern steel doors and windows pair with traditional European-style architecture.

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