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Photo courtesy of NextGen Real Estate

It takes a special kind of agent to sell a sprawling multimillion-dollar mansion complete with celebrity claims to fame. It takes a special kind of agent to walk a buyer through this kind of transaction, too.

But when Krista McGowen listed former Texans defensive end Mario Williams’ $7+ million home, she had a hunch it would go to someone she knew, and that she would be that “special agent” to see it through.

Her instincts proved to be correct: Last month she represented both parties in the sale of 701 W. Friar Tuck Lane in the Memorial area of Houston — a win for her, but also a win for her boutique brokerage, NextGen Real Estate, which recently launched a luxury division dedicated to buying and selling precisely this type of home.

Changing the way the game is played
NextGen Luxe is positioned as the black label of the brokerage’s signature brand, fine-tuned for the future of luxury real estate. And this is perhaps what is most interesting about NextGen’s recent play in this space. There has been no dramatic overhaul of their core business model; simply a refinement of everything people have known and loved about this start-up all along.

It turns out that creative content, authentic relationships, and innovative marketing have their place in the luxury market, too. “What we do — what we have always done — works exceptionally well in this niche,” confirms NextGen CEO and broker Julia Wang.

“No one has been surprised by the launch of NextGen Luxe,” she reflects. “Except perhaps our competitors, who still seem to have a hard time taking us seriously despite our track record in selling epic properties such as this one, and the high caliber of luxury agents joining our ranks every day.”

One explanation could be that NextGen has captured a whole new demographic of luxury buyers in Texas.

The sports professional, the Silicon Valley transplant, the serial entrepreneur looking for a business-friendly base for their latest venture — these trends were in motion before the pandemic hit the property market, but gathered momentum as remote working exploded and word got around that Texas, and especially Houston, represented comparatively affordable luxury.

As a tech-driven product of this unprecedented time, NextGen (founded in 2020) has emerged as uniquely placed to serve this new generation of luxury buyers and sellers.

Work hard, play hard, live Luxe
McGowen would have to agree: “My clients are almost entirely from the realm of sports and entertainment. They have the buying power. What they do not have is the respect of the big-box brokerages, whose luxury marketing is still geared toward a demographic that isn’t them.”

It’s true: The buttoned-up experience offered by legacy brokerages does not befit the modern luxury buyer, either demographically or experientially. This is where NextGen swoops in with their egalitarian approach and an altogether different tagline: "work hard, play hard, live Luxe."

NextGen’s life-affirming way of doing business has proven immensely popular among the new luxury real estate clientele. Left to NextGen Luxe, broker open houses have become spectacular industry-renowned events — an influential women's social, a fine wine tasting, an exotic car rally — all catered by luxury brands with whom they partner, and captured in a range of shareable content.

As such, the reach and appeal of a NextGen Luxe property is amplified across a broad network of agents and buyers. According to the National Association of Realtors, 99 percent of millennials — currently the most active buying demographic — go online or turn to social media to narrow their search.

“Social media might be where we begin,” suggests NextGen’s powerhouse director of sales, Christy Huckaby. “But selling luxury is where we end up. One hundred percent of our agents have grown their business since making the switch to NextGen, many of them by moving into the luxury market.”

Free agent
Huckaby, herself a luxury broker, joined NextGen earlier this year after calling time on the exploitative practices of the industry’s big players. For her, the answer was agents first, brokerage second — the kind of next-generational thinking she saw in spades at NextGen Real Estate.

“Happy agents make happy clients” is an oft-stated maxim among the leadership team. Their focus is less on how much the agents can produce for the brokerage, and more on how the brokerage can make the agents feel supported and empowered to produce. Success follows for all key stakeholders — including clients. It’s classic abundance philosophy, reconfigured as corporate strategy.

Fun events and surprise giveaways are one thing, but where the buck stops — literally — is what matters most in the current real estate market. For producers of high value homes, NextGen’s commission plans make particular sense: 80/20 with a $20,000 cap, plus a range of brokerage-sponsored marketing collateral for every listing over $750,000.

“You know what I would do,” Huckaby is known for musing to her social media following, before launching into a compelling take on the world as she sees it. “I would run, not walk, to a brokerage that repays my investment in them — that makes me feel valued, celebrated, and inspired — and that reflects this in the commission structure.”

She is of course referring to NextGen, the fastest-growing independent brokerage in Texas with a retention rate in the high nineties, percentage-wise.

Niche down to level up
And McGowen is living proof that these principles yield impressive results. An early recruit to the NextGen team, she made the move so that she could build the business she wanted.

“It just made sense — for me and my clients especially," she says. "I knew that sports and entertainment was my niche. I had the connections and the experience. But my previous brokerage wasn’t aligned with having such a singular vision. At NextGen, I was given the freedom to flourish and the tools I needed to optimize my brand, my way … and here we are!”

Asked what her strategy was for selling a $7M+ home in such a tumultuous market, she describes a combination of grit and endurance not unfamiliar to the football field. Each and every time an athlete announced a move to Houston, she would reach out to them or their agents, planting seeds that this stunning property might be the home for them.

Eventually one such seed sprouted into an all-cash offer with a 20-day close. An out-of-state buyer from within McGowen’s network had seen the listing, at one point saving pictures of the property to his phone. He finally pulled the trigger when a family member called him, raving about its extraordinary, million-dollar resort pool. “It was always going to be about that pool!” McGowen laughs.

Dive into luxury
Meanwhile, everything is going swimmingly at NextGen HQ. The brokerage’s new, custom-designed office on I-10 is a hive of next-generational thinking, with plans in the coming year to expand deeper into the Dallas and Austin markets. “We have a lot to be thankful for, and even more to be excited about,” reveals Wang, who has a special message for luxury agents in particular.

“We know your worth, and so should you," she says. "We reward our big hitters with even bigger incentives. The #nextgentakeover is real and we would love for you to join us."

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NextGen Luxe is currently recruiting. If you are an agent with five or more $750k+ properties in production this year, reach out to Christy Huckaby at 281-224-5022. All enquiries will be handled in confidence.

Photo courtesy of NextGen Real Estate

NextGen Luxe represented both buyer and seller in the sale of Mario Williams’ epic Houston home.

Houston Association of Realtors

Houston is home to some of the biggest houses in the U.S., new ranking shows

Size matters

If everything’s bigger in Texas, that should include our homes, right? Well, a new study shows homes in the Lone Star State are among the biggest in the country — but not the biggest.

Texas appears at No. 11 on American Home Shield’s list of the states with the biggest houses. In Texas, the average home is 2,170 square feet, well behind top-ranked Utah (2,800 square feet).

But don’t despair, fellow Texans. Six Texas cities, including Houston, land on American Home Shield’s list of the top 20 major cities for home size. This list looks at average home sizes in the country’s 50 largest cities after surveying more than 500,000 U.S. home listings from Zillow,

Houston, surprisingly, doesn't lead the list; that honor goes to Fort Worth, No. 5 overall, where homes 2,255 square feet. Houston ranks No. 11 in the U.S.. per the study. The report notes the average home price per square foot in Houston is $208.28.

Here's how Texas cities fared:

  • No. 7 Austin, 2,081 square feet
  • No. 11 Houston, 2,041 square feet
  • No. 16 El Paso, 2,004 square feet
  • No. 17 San Antonio, 2,002 square feet
  • No. 20 Dallas, 1,930 square feet

In case you were wondering, the big city with the biggest houses is Colorado Springs, Colorado (2,760 square feet), while the tiniest houses are in Honolulu (825 square feet).

“Several factors can dictate how large the average home is in a certain state or city,” says American Home Shield, which sells home warranties. “One of the primary factors is the age of the housing stock. American homes have gotten larger over time; states with a higher percentage of new homes tend to have larger homes on average.”

Memorial Forest: A prime location with storied tradition and tree-lined surrounds

Your Expert Guide

There are so many great places to live in Houston that it helps to have an expert on your side. The Neighborhood Guide presented by Martha Turner Sotheby's International Realty gives you insider access from the agents who live and work there, providing in-the-know info about your possible new community.

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Located in the epicenter of Houston, Memorial Forest is known for its beautiful natural topography, upscale properties, and easy access to major city freeways like the Beltway and I-10.

“Memorial Forest is very much a front-yard neighborhood, surrounded by restaurants and parks and boasting two elementary schools — Bunker Hill and Frostwood — which are within walking distance, as is Memorial Mall,” says Janice Murphy, who is the third generation of a four-generation real estate family.

She lists and sells predominantly in the Memorial neighborhoods, where she has also lived and been an active community member for more than 30 years.

Murphy offered up a few of her personal favorites about life in Memorial Forest. Here's her guide to the area:

Where to eat & drink

"Ciro's Italian Grill not only has great food, there’s a beautiful patio along with an outdoor space for children to run and play, and you can often catch live music there, too,” says Murphy.

She also suggests several other fine restaurants within a five-minute drive, including the coastal flavors of Liberty Kitchen & Oysterette, State Fare Kitchen & Bar’s casual-fun menu (dill pickle dip with house-made barbecue potato chips, anyone?), farm-to-table flair at Dish Society, Southern comfort at Treebeards, and elevated steakhouse fare at Jonathan’s The Rub.

Smoky goodness is served up at Goode Co. Barbeque — and don’t miss sister restaurants Goode Co. Kitchen & Cantina and Goode Co. Seafood, she adds.

For mixing and mingling over drinks, Murphy recommends by Popular Demand (or "bpd," as the locals say).

Where to play
To maximize your downtime in the area, there are parks, movie theaters, shopping, and spas and salons all very close to the Memorial Forest neighborhood.

What to see
Memorial Forest is quite close to the Houston Museum of Natural Science, The Museum of Fine Arts, and the Theater District, where a number of venues host everything from touring Broadway shows to the Houston Grand Opera and the Houston Ballet, along with concerts, bands, comedians, and more.

Where to live
“The average lot size in Memorial Forest is about 10,500 square feet,” advises Murphy. One- and two-story homes range from 2,400 square feet to about 5,600 square feet. “The Architectural Committee ensures that the new builds are styled to fit into the original neighborhood,” she adds.

Murphy highlights the European flair of the stunning 12222 Cobblestone Dr. as representative of the Memorial Forest area, what with its timeless remodel and expansion along with it pool and garage apartment.

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Janice Murphy lives, works, and plays in Memorial Forest. For more information on buying and selling a home in the area, click here, email janice.murphy@sir.com or call 281-236-6853.

Agent Janice Murphy

Photo courtesy of Martha Turner Sotheby's International Realty
Agent Janice Murphy

Kingwood: A livable forest with trails, trees, and kindness

Your Expert Guide

There are so many great places to live in Houston that it helps to have an expert on your side. The Neighborhood Guide presented by Martha Turner Sotheby's International Realty gives you insider access from the agents who live and work there, providing in-the-know info about your possible new community.
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Located in northeast Houston, Kingwood offers a welcoming, suburban lifestyle with traditional homes that have been remodeled as well as new construction nearby.

Kingwood’s proximity to the airport and downtown appeals to commuters as well as frequent fliers, while outdoor enthusiasts gravitate to the area for its natural beauty, 75 miles of greenbelt trails, and its adjacency to Lake Houston for boating and fishing.

For real estate agent Michelle Star, the community feel and the highly rated schools were additional factors that drew her family to Kingwood when relocating from Austin about seven years ago.

“Also, having grown up in the Midwest, all of the trees in Kingwood made me feel more at home,” she says.

Indeed, when Kingwood was first developed in the '70s, it was dubbed the "Livable Forest" — and you’ll see that tagline all around town, adds Star.

As the wife of a U.S. Marine, Star lived in nine other states before calling Texas home and previously worked on Capitol Hill. So she is masterful at planning every step of a move — and is also an International Relocation Specialist. She is passionate about finding the perfect property (and deal!) for her clients.

Star offered up a few of her personal favorites about life in Kingwood. Here's her guide to the area:

Where to eat & drink
"For a celebration or a special night out, Chimichurri's is hands-down my top spot," says Star. "This South American grill has top-notch service and some of the best steaks I've had — and their chimichurri sauce is amazing! You'll be asking for extra. Their executive lunch is always a hit as well for client meetings or a nice lunch with friends."

If Star wants a little something sweet, she hits Taste of Gnome, a boutique bakery. "This place is so delicious; it's dangerous that it's right next to my office!"

Where to play
For Star, East End Park is one of her favorite places to relax and enjoy nature and wildlife. “You’ll often see deer and a variety of birds,” she says. “I have even seen an eagle on an early morning walk. The park is also a beautiful location for sunsets along Lake Houston and family photos.”

But there are so many other ways to enjoy the outdoors in Kingwood, too.

“We have neighborhood pools and parks and a weekly farmers market at Town Center,” Star adds. “There's also Dylan Duncan Memorial Skate Park to brush up on skateboarding skills with a mini half pipe, kicktail, and ramp.”

For those who like to golf, Clubs of Kingwood has five different courses along with recreational and workout facilities.

What to see
“You can't miss the The Bevil Jarrell Memorial Bridge, adjacent to U.S. Highway 59,” says Star. “It's the original bridge crossing the San Jacinto River and is another great spot for photos or just a scenic outlook point for the river.”

Where to live
“Kingwood is a wonderful place to establish a home,” says Star. “There's so much that our community offers.”

She believes that Kingwood homes also appeal to many people because there’s a mix of traditional styles that don’t feel "cookie cutter."

“Many of the homes from the ’70s have been updated inside to showcase their character, and others are ready for a buyer's personal touch,” she adds. “As you travel through Kingwood toward Lake Houston, you'll find homes built throughout the 2000s as well as newer construction in Royal Brook and Royal Shores. Kingwood offers a little bit of something for almost everyone's architectural style.”

Star recently sold a six-bedroom home at 5503 Valley Lark Court that exemplifies all that Kingwood offers.

“This gorgeous property is within close proximity to the lake, trails, and excellent schools,” she says. “It also features a custom-remodeled interior by local Kingwood builder Framestead.”

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Michelle Star works and plays in Kingwood. For more information on buying and selling a home in the area, click here, email michelle.star@sothebys.realty or call 832-779-7827.

Agent Michelle Star.

Photo courtesy of Martha Turner Sotheby's International Realty
Agent Michelle Star.
Photo courtesy of Icon Global

NFL legend Terry Bradshaw's ranch near North Texas lists for $22.5 million

Celebrity listing

An Oklahoma ranch around 70 miles north of Dallas-Fort Worth that’s owned by NFL Hall of Famer and Fox Sports analyst Terry Bradshaw is back on the market for $22.5 million.

Bernard Uechtritz, owner of Dallas-based real estate agency Icon Global Group, says the 744-acre ranch was relisted after a deal with a would-be buyer fell through. Cancellation of the purchase followed a series of contract extensions, along with repeated assurances from the potential buyer and their representatives that the deal would close, according to Uechtritz. It’s unknown how much that buyer was willing to pay for the ranch.

Over the years, Uechtritz and Bradshaw have been “inundated” by inquiries about selling the ranch, where the E! reality TV series The Bradshaw Bunch was filmed, according to an Icon Global news release.

Terry Bradshaw ranch The E! reality TV series The Bradshaw Bunch was filmed here.Photo courtesy of Icon Global

Bradshaw says in the news release that he and his wife, Tammy, are “sad to leave this great big ranch and our wonderful home, which has been our idyllic retreat of so many years; however, it is time that we slowed down a little, freeing us up to travel more, as well as enjoy new grandchildren, family, and other interests.”

The Bradshaws now live on a smaller farm in Texas where they continue to operate their Quarter Horse breeding business. In conjunction with the sale of the ranch, the Bradshaws are selling 150 Quarter Horses at an October 22 auction.

Terry Bradshaw ranch The ranch sits on 744 acres.Photo courtesy of Icon Global

The ranch, just east of Thackerville, Oklahoma, and a few miles west of the Texas-Oklahoma border, will keep operating until the new owner takes over. The property, overlooking the Red River, sits within the boundaries of the Chickasaw Nation, which is home to the massive WinStar World Casino and Resort.

“The property and facilities are a turnkey-ready proposition for a major equestrian player in the horse business, or continued use as a cattle or private recreational ranch,” Uechtritz says.

Highlights of the ranch include:

  • Rustic 8,600-square-foot home with six bedrooms, six bathrooms, two half-bathrooms, and four fireplaces
  • 2,600-square-foot manager’s house
  • Four-bedroom bunkhouse
  • Outdoor patio encompassing about 1,000 square feet, with a full kitchen, bar, fireplace, hot sauna, and fire pit
  • Eight lakes and ponds
  • Outdoor pool
  • Two-story doghouse made of stone
  • 12-stall stallion barn
  • 20-stall show barn
  • 50-stall mare barn with a laboratory, breeding facility, office, and covered arena
  • 20-stall barn for weaning horses
  • Hay barn
  • Show-pig barn

The property has been on and off the market for a number of years. At various times, it’s been priced at $11.9 million, $10.8 million, $10.6 million, and $9.9 million, according to media reports.

Terry Bradshaw The Bradshaws are selling 150 Quarter Horses at an October 22 auction.Photo courtesy of Icon Global

As quarterback of the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1970s and ’80s, Bradshaw led the team to four Super Bowl victories and twice clinched Super Bowl MVP honors. The Louisiana native, who celebrated his 74th birthday earlier this month, retired from pro football in 1984 after a 14-year stint with the Steelers and then joined CBS Sports as a football analyst. He’s been a Fox Sports football analyst since 1994.

Towne Lake: Life on the water is made sweeter with custom homes

Your Expert Guide

There are so many great places to live in Houston that it helps to have an expert on your side. The Neighborhood Guide presented by Martha Turner Sotheby's International Realty gives you insider access from the agents who live and work there, providing in-the-know info about your possible new community.
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A Houston-area resident for more than 25 years, Lisa Adams knows her way around town, including the award-winning, master-planned community of Towne Lake.

As the centerpiece of one of the region’s most sought-after areas in Northwest Houston, Towne Lake boasts Texas-sized appeal via its 300-acre lake — the largest private recreational lake in Houston, with 14 miles of shoreline, scenic coves and waterways, boat docks and fishing piers, and a six-mile continuous boat ride.

“I absolutely love outdoor atmosphere and the water feature that Towne Lake offers,” says Adams, whose daughter happens to share her affinity for the water as a two-time Olympic swimmer. “You can waterski, swim, boat, and paddle boat in the lake. And the lazy river pool is awesome for families.”

Bordered by 290, West Road, and Barker Cypress Road, Towne Lake is in the heart of the Cypress-Fairbanks area, surrounded by restaurants, shopping, and educational and recreational opportunities. Zoned to the highly acclaimed Cy-Fair ISD, the community also has three onsite schools.

Adams offered up a few of her personal favorites about the casual-upscale lifestyle of Towne Lake. Here's her guide to the area:

Where to eat and drink
Start the day with fresh, seasonal flavors at First Watch, which has the best brunch around; order an açai bowl at Nektar Juice Bar; or grab a sweet or savory bite at Coco crêpes waffles & coffee.

Later in the day, head to Ambriza for authentic Mexican flavors or check out Taisho, a Japanese grill and sushi bar. Sam’s Boat is the ultimate sports bar — with good Gulf Coast food, too — and you can never go wrong with a pint at World of Beer.

You can also find easy access to fast-casual faves for tacos (Torchy’s), salads (Sweetgreen), and pies (MOD Pizza).

Where to play
Towne Lake is basically a vacation in your backyard, and even has its own 1.5-acre destination island with a beach, swim area, and a dock for boating and fishing.

Outdoor activities aren’t limited to the lake, though. Parks and recreational areas boast tennis courts, splash pads, a community garden, more than 24 miles of connected trails, covered picnic pavilions, and even a slalom ski course.

Where to live
Each Towne Lake neighborhood offers a unique setting, with most homes designed in an open floorplan that resonates with the relaxed, lakeside environment.

There are a number of exclusive, gated enclaves and communities that offer custom homes and waterfront properties in addition to a “55 and better” section.

One of Adams' favorite homes in the neighborhood, which she sold for a homeowner relocating out of the country, is 18211 Dockside Landing, an incredible, modern Mediterranean-style retreat in one of Towne Lake's gated areas.

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Lisa Adams works and plays in Towne Lake. For more information on buying and selling a home in the area, click here, email lisa.adams@sir.com, or call 281-330-4342.

Agent Lisa Adams.

Photo courtesy of Martha Turner Sotheby's International Realty

Agent Lisa Adams.

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

Iconic Texas 'cowboy-style' BBQ joint's Katy outpost closure leads week's top stories

this week's hot headlines

Editor's note: It's time to recap the top stories on CultureMap from this past week.

1. Iconic Texas 'cowboy-style' barbecue joint's Katy location quietly closes. Sadly, the local outpost couldn't replicate the magic of the original in Llano.

2. Ken Hoffman urges Houston travelers to keep calm and enjoy the trip at the new-look Bush IAH. Our columnist explains why travelers might be in "for a big, pleasant surprise at Houston’s Bush-Intercontinental Airport."

3. Houston's most spectacular winter light shows and events dazzle for the holidays. We rounded up where to see dazzling lights with family, friends, and visitors.

4. Disgraced Theranos CEO and former Houstonian Elizabeth Holmes sentenced to 11 years for fraud. Additionally, Holmes faces a fine of $400 million.

5. Houston's NASA leaders 'giddy' after historic Artemis 1 moon flyby. The spacecraft cruised just 81 miles above the lunar surface.

Disney's Strange World is a visual stunner with too many story ideas

Movie Review

For a studio whose entire reason for being seems to rely on creating and sustaining familiar characters, Walt Disney Animation takes its fair share of risks. In the last 10 years, it has released nine films, seven of which were not based on pre-existing properties (the other two were sequels for two of those seven). That’s a lot of new stuff, most of which has succeeded mightily for the perennially-popular leaders in animation.

They’re at it again with Strange World, which takes place in an unknown country/world known as Avalonia, where Jaeger Clade (Dennis Quaid) is a famous explorer whose only desire is to find a way over, around, or through the imposing mountains surrounding the land. His son, Searcher (Jake Gyllenhaal), doesn’t share his enthusiasm, and an early discovery by Searcher of a unique energy source leads to a rift between father and son. Jaeger continues onwards, while Searcher returns home with a plant they call Pando that creates harmony throughout the land.

Years later, when the plant shows signs of failure, Searcher is recruited by Avalonia leader Callisto Mal (Lucy Liu) to help in an expedition to find the source of whatever is attacking Pando. What they and others – including Searcher’s wife Meridian (Gabrielle Union) and son Ethan (Jaboukie Young-White) – find in their travels certainly lives up to the title.

Co-directed by Don Hall and Qui Nguyen and written by Nguyen, the film is a visual stunner. The quality of animation in Disney movies rarely fails to impress, and Strange World is the latest and greatest example. Whether it’s the humans, the landscape, or the innumerable weird creatures that populate the film, there is almost nothing that doesn’t deserve to be stared at and admired.

It’s odd, then, that the story does not come close to matching the graphics. There are a variety of reasons for this failure. Nguyen is the sole credited writer, and he stuffs the film full of big and small ideas, probably too many for this type of project. Searcher’s family and the world of Avalonia and beyond are diverse in multiple ways, to the point that it feels like Nguyen was trying to include everything he could think of in case he never got another shot.

The bigger sin, though, is how quickly the film advances through its plot, often bringing up new things out of nowhere. While Searcher and his family make for an interesting group, the side characters never make an impact. There are also multiple instances where the story takes a turn that makes no sense, either in the world of the film or a storytelling manner.

This includes the final act of the film, which features a significant twist that is presented and accepted in a way that doesn’t fit with the rest of the film. It adds on yet another message in a movie that contains a lot of them, but in a way that even those inclined to believe in what it’s trying to say may wonder why that part is there at all.

The science fiction element of Strange World is a bonanza for the filmmakers and animators to go as wild as they wanted in the visual department. But all that splendor is in service of a story that just doesn’t measure up, making it one of Disney’s less successful offerings in recent years.

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Strange World is now playing in theaters.

Photo courtesy of Disney

Searcher (Jake Gyllenhaal), Jaeger (Dennis Quaid), and Ethan Clade (Jaboukie Young-White) in Strange World

Affluent Houston suburb leads region for highest holiday spending budgets in U.S.

Santa Baby

As the most wonderful time of the year approaches, holiday shopping budgets are in the spotlight, and a study from WalletHub lists Sugar Land as one of the top cities where Santa doesn't need a whole lot of help.

According to the personal finance website, the average holiday budget in Sugar Land is $2,793 per person, the 15th highest in the nation. As CultureMap previously reported, Sugar Land residents here make an average of $123,261; the average home price is $337,600.

Fittingly, Fort Bend, home to Sugar Land, was recently named the second-richest county in Texas.

As for Greater Houston, Santa's bag could be a mixed bag, with three suburbs in the top 100, but the urban center falling far behind:

  • Sugar Land, No. 15, $2,793
  • Pearland, No. 36, $2,172
  • The Woodlands, No. 71, $1,733
  • Houston, No. 366, $890

Each year, WalletHub calculates the maximum holiday budget for over 550 U.S. cities "to help consumers avoid post-holiday regret," the website says. The study factors in income, age of the population, and other financial indicators such as debt-to-income ratio, monthly-income-to monthly-expenses ratio and savings-to-monthly-expenses ratio.

Despite nationwide focus on inflation strains, holiday spending is expected to be healthy, and higher than last year.

"The seeming social upheaval in recent times may lead households to spend more in an attempt to take some control of the environment which they can control," says Robert Wright, University of Illinois, Springfield professor emeritus who was among five experts consulted for advice about holiday shopping.

Elsewhere in Texas, 10 North Texas cities landed in this year's top 100 heftiest holiday budgets:

  • Flower Mound, No. 3, $3,531 (The only Texas city in the top 10)
  • Allen, No. 17 , $2,670
  • Frisco, No. 37, $2,150
  • McKinney, No. 45, $2,070
  • Plano, No. 50, $1,999
  • Carrollton, No. 55, $1,837
  • Richardson, No. 58, $1,823
  • North Richland Hills, No. 81, $1,658
  • Lewisville, No. 90, $1,630
  • Fort Worth, No. 366, $890
  • Dallas, No. 401, $845

Spending in the Austin area won't be ho-hum with the Capitol City's budget of $1,705 ranked at No. 78. Two Austin suburbs, Cedar Park (budget $2,855) and League City (budget $2,541) ranked 14 and 20, respectively.

Things don't look too jolly for San Antonio, ranked at No. 431 with an average budget of $803 or Pharr, which was the lowest ranked city in Texas.

At No. 553 with a budget of $487, the Rio Grande Valley city came in just a few spots ahead of last place Hartford, CT with a budget of only $211.