the best neighborhoods now
How hot is the Houston housing market just now? Nearly as hot as the temperature outside. Earlier this month, the Houston Association of Realtors (HAR) noted that sales for April had jumped seven percent over a sluggish March. The report indicated 7,070 single-family homes had been sold, up from 6,611 the year before. The average price on those sales was just over $305,000, a significant jump from April 2017’s average price of $240,000. Meanwhile, the best-performing sector of the market was homes priced between $500,000 and $749,000, which saw a massive 30 percent jump.
So, as the market continues to heat up, where should Houstonians be looking? Realtors shared their favorite spots around the Bayou City. Check out their insider opinions.
“I think this is Houston’s best-kept secret,” says Clayton Katz of John Daugherty Realtors, of the small neighborhood just north of Memorial Drive and cozying up to Memorial Park. Tucked next to Westcott Drive and south of busy Washington, it’s a quiet, serene space in Houston’s mad crush.
“Crestwood itself is a small street, but some of the homes give you bayou views and you have access to Memorial Park,” he says. “Everyone in the luxury market wants to be in River Oaks or Memorial, but Crestwood offers beautiful options.”
Katz likes the exclusivity of the area. Its wooded, shady streets provide the perfect setting for the sprawling homes, which Katz says are typically around 5,000 square feet and start at around $1.3 million and quickly rise from there. Styles range from modern to French traditional. This is a neighborhood that feels far away from the hurry city life, even though the city is right nearby. “It’s very urban in terms of access,” adds Katz.
Twenty-three feet above downtown Houston and able to withstand Houston’s flooding, fabulous schools and an imaginative restaurant scene are just some of what makes this neighborhood a favorite of realtors and buyers alike.
“But really, people move to the Heights for the charm and small-town feel,” says Martha Beaudry of Boulevard Realty.
“Many of the homes are bungalows built in the early 1900s,” notes Beaudry. “Remember the Craftsman style kit homes that people ordered from Sears Catalogs? Many of the homes in the Heights are Craftsman style or Victorian and people have dedicated themselves to preserving that charm as much as possible. Even as they preserve the exterior and some of the interior charms, they find a way to balance it with modern trends and tastes internally. It’s almost as if each house in this community has a story to tell.”
The area is also famous for its mom-and-pop shops and artisan establishments, fervently supported by the community. The Heights is known for coffee shops and restaurants, tree lined streets, bike trails, and parks.
Homes here — the most modest starting at $350,000 — are being frantically scooped up by locals and transplants, all of whom want that charming, Heights feel, says Beaudry: “It’s hard to leave the Heights once you’ve lived in it.”
“One of the draws about the Memorial area is its easy access to downtown and Houston Intercontinental Airport, and its strong school districts,” says Susan Boss of Martha Turner Sotheby’s. Boss has been specializing in the area for more than 25 years; it’s where she lived and raised her children, and she loved that they were able to attend quality schools in her neighborhood, where they developed lifelong friends. She also loves that the Villages’ civic leadership is very hands-on, and points out that there are zoning regulations prohibiting commercial developments within the neighborhoods.
Boss advises buyers that areas in West Memorial (median list price $525,000) are more affordable than in the Memorial Villages (Bunker Hill Village, Hedwig Village, Piney Point Village, Spring Branch, etc. — many being multi-million-dollar properties). But the lots are smaller, too.
“Memorial Villages has larger lots and many are wooded. In many cases, the homes are from the 1950s and 1960s, and what we’re finding is the value of the lot has exceeded the value of the older home. So, while the houses are perfectly liveable, buyers will purchase them, then tear them down and build something new to their own specifications.”
“There’s a lot of opportunity here,” says Martha Beaudry of Boulevard Realty, about this enclave that hugs I-45 — just on the other side of the freeway from Woodland Heights. “I think this neighborhood now is where the Heights was back in the early 2000s.”
Beaudry says the area is ripe for buyers who are looking for a neighborhood that feels comfortable and where residents are committed to seeing its success. Dotted with bungalows and some new construction, the area boasts easy proximity to the Heights and Downtown. The METRO light rail line snakes up along Main Street with stops at Quitman and Fulton, and Moody Park is a welcoming greenspace. For entertainment, there are shows at White Oak Music Hall, and restaurants like Edison & Patton are bringing more amenities to the neighborhood.
Homes can be found for as little as $150,000, with appreciation on the horizon. “This is a great place for buyers looking for a home in a neighborhood where they’ll feel comfortable and part of a community, who are also interested in banking on future value,” says Beaudry.
“There is a lot of new construction going on here,” says Lisa Cloud of Blue Willow Properties. “This is a neighborhood with thousands of homes.” One of the things Cloud says she loves about the area that stretches along the top of the Loop and hugs parts of 290 is how it’s transformed over the last few years. “Lots of new restaurants and businesses have come in — and more are coming. That’s something we’ve not really had before, and I’ve been here for 25 years.”
Cloud says the changes make the neighborhood perfect for those who want their social lives and their home lives to mesh more. The influx of new spots has made the always family-friendly area a draw not only for families, but for young professionals who want a place of their own away from most bustling spots, but don’t want to be deprived of chef-driven restaurants and locally owned businesses. Oak Forest also has another thing going for it: “Everybody loves Oak Forest Elementary School,” Cloud says.
Cloud says that while some of the buzz about Garden Oaks has tapered off, she’s still a booster for the area. Homes have doubled in the last seven years; the median list price is $398,000. “There’s a new shopping center going in where the old Exxon facility was at 610 and Mangum. And the talk of rail plans at Northwest Mall. There’s a lot going on. If the price [on a home here] is reasonable, it’s going to go fast.”