Real Estate Round-up
Finding Houston's next hot real estate neighborhood — Think small
Grab your microscope. That’s the best tool for searching for that yet-to-be discovered Houston neighborhood that will soar in value and popularity.
A microscope might work because the undiscovered pockets of potential are going to be small. The niche neighborhood, like a small diamond in a huge minefield, is what you are looking for today.
The easy big targets have already been picked over long ago. (I remember hearing: “Buy in Bellaire, a great location with good schools.”) And everybody already knows about the Heights, so you’re going to have to look a little harder to find the tiny gold mines of the future.
So try trolling on the fringes of the Heights or Bellaire. These are treacherous waters, though. Some of the neighborhoods near Bellaire or the Heights have been in transition and if they slid downward, they may never come back.
Go East of Heights
Some have looked for potential in neighborhoods on the eastern edge of the Heights, such as the Brookesmith subdivision where you can find 1920s vintage bungalows for $150,000.
Farther east from Brookesmith, is the Ryon neighborhood. An updated 1,400-square-foot bungalow in Ryon is currently on the market for $115,000.
John Daugherty, who has been selling real estate in Houston since the 1960s, says the Near Northside/Ryon area, near Hardy and Elysian streets, could blossom someday. The area is just north of downtown, inside Loop 610, and has homes dating back to the 1920s, Daugherty points out. Ryon is also close to the new north corridor Metro light rail line, which is under construction and will run up Fulton Street.
Daugherty, who heads a large realty firm that bears his name, also believes there is untapped potential near the University of Houston and the Gulf Freeway.
The significant upticks in appreciation are most likely to occur in Inner Loop neighborhoods, where demand is getting stronger, says Realtor Robert Hamlin of Martha Turner Properties.
“We are seeing a tremendous migration back inside Loop 610,” Hamlin says.
The popularity of the Inner Loop is sustained by easy commute times and the lure of cultural amenities and close-in restaurants.
Hamlin believes Timbergrove Manor, an Inner Loop community near Ella Boulevard and West 18th Street, could be in line for significant appreciation in the future. The next major trend for Timbergrove will be the demolition of 50-year-old ranch-style homes that will be replaced by new construction.
New construction is a sure sign that an older neighborhood has the potential for a turn around. It could be old apartment complex, a warehouse or an overlooked vacant lot, that is now being utilized for new housing or the obsolete single-family home being demolished to make a site for a large new house.
Just south of Loop 610, a lot of new townhomes have popped up west of Kirby Drive. For example, Woodwind Villa, a townhome project priced at $249,000 and up, is under construction on West Bellfort, near Stella Link.
Any of the neighborhoods near the southern section of Loop 610 — Woodshire, Willow Meadows, Westridge — could become hotter and deliver excellent price appreciation for investors or homeowners when the market fully revives.
The Secret Montrose Pockets
Small sections of diverse Inner Loop offer lots of opportunity for those diligent enough to ferret out the hidden treasure.
“I think there are sections of Montrose that have been overlooked and that will be picked up,” Sandra Gunn of Boulevard Realty says. Lots in Montrose — between Waugh Drive and Montrose Boulevard and south of Dallas — can still be obtained for less than $250,000, which is a great price that will lure new construction, Gunn says.
The next wave of new development and construction will push people into the fringes of areas that have already boomed, Gunn says. The gentrification may have already started and matured, the neighborhood school may have improved and home buyers and home builders are ready to venture out into the fringe of the neighborhood.
“You see people on the fringes. You’ll see more pockets in the museum area being developed and things like that,” Gunn says.
Gunn is also strong on Glen Cove, near Memorial Park, where she has a home listed for $3.9 million.
Oak Forest appears to be poised to make another run, Gunn says, continuing what’s already been a great market.
And don’t forget Galveston. After being whacked by Hurricane Ike, which made landfall on Sept. 13, 2008, the realty market on the island took a nosedive. But the timing may be right for a Galveston rebound.
Some things never change. People will always want to live near the city’s center and that’s where the hottest neighborhoods will be, says Evert Crawford of Crawford Realty Advisors.
“Go inside the Loop,” Crawford says.”It’s a popular area and it’s been popular for a long time. And it’s going to continue to be that way.”
Ralph Bivins, former president of the National Association of Real Estate Editors, is editor-in-chief of RealtyNewsReport.com.