H-TOWN VALUE

Here’s how much house you can buy in Houston for $250,000

Austin offers the least bang for your buck among Texas' major metro areas. Photo by Ariel Skelley/Getty Images

Houston may be in the midst of a pandemic, but that hasn't slowed our real estate market. And a new study shows just how much bang for your buck you can get in the Bayou City versus Texas' other major metro areas.

A study released July 7 by the PropertyShark real estate website shows that $250,000 will get Houston buyers a 2,318 square-foot-house, which works out the second-best value in Texas.

In the Houston metro area, last year's sales of single-family homes totaled 90,145, up 3.6 percent from 2018, according to the Texas Association of Realtors.

"Townhomes and condominiums had a roller coaster ride and the luxury market cooled a bit, but overall, 2019 was a phenomenal year," John Nugent, 2020 chairman of the Houston Association of Realtors, said in a January release.

For some comparison, $250,000 nets Austin buyers a 1,139-square-foot house — the least amount among Texas' biggest cities. PropertyShark's data includes single-family homes, duplexes, condos, and townhouses.

In its report on the 2019 real estate market, the Austin Board of Realtors noted that median home price in the region rocketed from $193,520 in 2010 to $318,000 in 2019. The Texas Association of Realtors says 36,782 single-family homes were sold in the Austin metro area last year.

"If we don't take action to increase housing supply in Austin, we will continue to see exponential increases in home values," Romeo Manzanilla, 2020 president of the Austin Board of Realtors, warned in a January release.

While Austin's position in the PropertyShark study is worse than every other big city in Texas, it's considerably better than places like New York City, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. In Manhattan, $250,000 would enable you to buy a home the size of a hotel room — 232 square feet. The situation isn't much better in San Francisco, where $250,000 would get you a 269-square-foot home. In Los Angeles, that dollar amount would let you purchase a 524-square-foot home.

"In the country's most populated cities with more than 900,000 residents, the difference in price per square foot between coastal cities and Texas cities is miles apart," PropertyShark notes. "As expected, vast Texas leads the way in providing the most space for the lowest price. In fact, in every Texas city we analyzed, $250,000 will buy more than 1,000 square feet."

San Antonio, meanwhile, continues to solidify its status as the most affordable housing market among major Texas cities. According to the study, a buyer spending $250,000 could purchase a 2,503-square-foot home in San Antonio. That amounts to $100 per square foot.

Looking at the country's 100 largest cities, San Antonio ranks 15th for the amount of square footage available for $250,000. Detroit sits atop the list. There, you can buy a 5,407-square-foot home for $250,000, PropertyShark says.

Last year, 35,456 single-family homes were sold in the San Antonio metro area, according to the Texas Association of Realtors. That's a 6 percent increase compared with 2018. Homes priced between $200,000 and $500,000 made up more than half of the region's sales volume in 2019.

"San Antonio continues to be a top destination for both buyers and sellers, and it's exciting to see such tremendous growth in people achieving their dreams of homeownership," Kim Bragman, 2020 chairwoman of the San Antonio Board of Realtors, said in a January release.

Looking at the country's 100 largest cities, San Antonio ranks 15th for the amount of square footage available for $250,000. Detroit sits atop the list. There, you can buy a 5,407-square-foot home for $250,000, PropertyShark says.

Here's how all the cities in Texas' four largest metro areas compared when it comes to the amount of space you can score for $250,000:

  • Houston, 2,318 square feet
  • San Antonio, 2,503 square feet
  • Arlington, 2,240 square feet
  • Garland, 2,218 square feet
  • Fort Worth, 2,109 square feet
  • Irving, 2,072 square feet
  • Dallas, 1,722 square feet
  • Plano, 1,657 square feet
  • Austin, 1,139 square feet

Like San Antonio and Austin, Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth enjoyed robust home sales volume in 2019.

In Dallas-Fort Worth, single-family home sales totaled 103,261 last year, up 3 percent from 2018, the Texas Association of Realtors says.

"Dallas-Fort Worth winds up with record sales again," James Gaines, chief economist at Texas A&M University's Real Estate Center, said in January. "The Dallas side of the Metroplex was actually a little better than Fort Worth."

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

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Building Houston

 
 

A Houston founder and small-space expert founded TAXA Outdoors to create better campers than what was in the market. Now, amid the pandemic, he's seen sales skyrocket. Photo courtesy of TAXA Outdoors

In 2014 Garrett Finney, a former senior architect at the Habitability Design Center at NASA, brought his expertise in what he describes as "advocating for human presence living in a machine" to the outdoors market.

After being less-than enchanted by the current RV and camper offerings, the Houstonian developed a new series of adventure vehicles that could safely and effectively get its users off-grid — even if still Earth-bound — under the company he dubbed TAXA Outdoors.

The vehicles would follow much of the same standards that Finney worked under at NASA, in which every scenario and square inch would be closely considered in the smartly designed spaces. And rather that designing the habitats for style alone, function and storage space for essential gear took precedence. According to Finney, the habitat was to be considered a form of useful adventure equipment in its own right.

"Ceilings should be useful. They're not just for putting lights on," he says. "Even when there's gravity that's true."

Today TAXA offers four models of what they call "mobile human habitats" that can be towed behind a vehicle and sleep three to four adults, ranging from about $11,000 to $50,000 in price.

TAXA's mobile human habitats range in size and price. Photo courtesy of TAXA Outdoors

And amid the pandemic — where people were looking for a safe way to escape their homes and get outside — the TAXA habitats were flying off the shelves, attracting buyers in Texas, but mainly those in Colorado, California, and other nature-filled areas.

"January, was looking really good — like the break out year. And then the pandemic was a huge red flag all around the world," Finney says. "[But] we and all our potential customers realized that going camping was the bet. They were with their family, they were getting outside, they were achieving sanity having fun and creating memories."

According to TAXA President Divya Brown, the company produced a record 430 habitats in 2020. But it still wasn't enough to match the number of orders coming in.

"We had we had almost a year and a half worth of backlog at the old facility, which we've never experienced before," Brown says.

To keep up with demand, the company moved into a 70,000-square-foot space off of U.S. 290 that now allows multiple operations lines, as well as a showroom for their vehicles and enough room for their staff, which tripled in size from 25 to 75 employees since the onset of the pandemic.

The first priority at the new facility is to make up the backlog they took on in 2020. Next they hope to produce more than 1,000 habitats by the end of 2021 and 3,000 in the coming years.

"It's a pretty significant jump for us," Brown says. "We really believe there's a huge market for this."

With the new facility, the TAXA team hopes to catch up with the explosive sales growth. Photo courtesy of TAXA Outdoors

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