Condos on the Climb

Houston home sales are really heating up in this category

Houston home sales are really heating up in this category

Houston, Urban Flats Condos_August 2015, interior 2
Condo sales are going up — but so are prices. Courtesy photo

Texas homebuyers aren't just scooping up single-family homes: The 2016 Texas Condominium Mid-Year Sales Report shows that condo sales — and prices — are going up, up, up.

All of the state's major metros — Austin, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio — saw an increase in condo sales from January through May 2016. In Houston 1,674 condos were sold, an 11.2  percent increase from the same time period in 2015. 

Why the jump? The Texas Association of Realtors attributes the uptick to retirees and first-time buyers seeking a more affordable alternative to single-family homes. "Millennials and retirees who don’t want the upkeep of a traditional, single-family home and want to be close to nightlife and amenities also see condos as an attractive housing option," adds the report.

The more desirable condos become, the higher the prices rise. The median condo price in Houston increased 13 percent year-over-year. But at a median price of $130,000, condos are still an affordable option for Houston buyers. Condos in Dallas, at a median price of $160,000, are also relatively affordable for the first-time buyer, but in Austin, the median condo price is $235,000, well above the preferred price range for most first-time buyers.

"Existing condos are typically the predominant properties left in Texas’ major metro areas that can be purchased for under $200,000, the price range best suited for first-time, entry-level homebuyers,"  says Jim Gaines, chief economist with the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University, in a release. 

For the first time in the report’s history, statistics for condos and more expensive townhome were reported separately. Not surprisingly, townhome sales were down in major Texas markets. In Houston, 1,265 townhomes were sold, from January through May of 2016, 19.7 percent fewer than the comparable period in 2015. 

The median price for a Houston townhome is $222,900 – 6.2 percent higher than the previous year.

According to Realtor.com, "the difference between a townhouse and a condo (of any size) is in the form of ownership. In a condominium, the homeowners own the inside of their home—but the exterior, the land and the common areas are owned by an association."