The price is right

Houston boasts the best home values among major U.S. metros, according to new report

In Houston, you can get the most house for the buck among the country's biggest metro areas. Photo by TK Images

In Houston, you can get the most house for the buck among the country's biggest metro areas, a new study shows.

The study, recently published by Austin-based online insurance marketplace The Zebra, indicates you can purchase a 1,935-square-foot home in the Houston metro area at the U.S. median sale price. In 2019, that price was $239,900, according to Zillow data analyzed by The Zebra.

The study calculated how much square footage you can afford in the 10 largest metros in the U.S., based on Zillow's calculations for median home price per square foot.

In 2019, the median price of a single-family home in the Houston area was $245,800, up from $238,800 in 2018, according to the National Association of Realtors. A record 86,205 single-family homes were sold across the Houston area in 2019, up 4.8 percent from the previous record of 82,229 in 2018, the Houston Association of Realtors says.

"It's great to see Houston at the top of this study, as the Bayou City has been one of the most of the most affordable cities in the United States," says Paige Martin, leader of the Houston Properties Team at Keller Williams Realty. "The Houston metro area is adding more residents each year than the entire population of Pittsburgh. A big reason for that is the cost of living is so much lower than other major cities in the U.S."

In terms of large houses, Martin continues to see high demand for bigger properties from a lot of homebuyers, particularly millennials and Generation Y members.

"These homebuyers typically grew up in smaller homes than what they're seeking now," she says, "and they're drawn to the benefits of every child having their own bedroom, designated play areas, and large and expansive kitchens for family gatherings and entertainment."

"Fortunately, Houston can accommodate this," Martin adds, "as the city is blessed with so many top-ranked suburbs that have low land costs."

Meanwhile, Dallas is No. 3 on the list. In 2019, the median price of a single-family home in Dallas-Fort Worth was $268,000, up from $260,000 the previous year, according to the National Association of Realtors. In a report covering January 2020, the MetroTex Association of Realtors said year-over-year sales of single-family homes were up 21 percent, while the total dollar volume climbed 32 percent to nearly $1.98 billion.

In December, Realtor.com predicted home prices in Dallas-Fort Worth would decline 0.5 percent this year compared with 2019.

"The North Texas housing market has come off of several record-breaking years," Cathy Mitchell, 2019 president of the MetroTex Association of Realtors, said in December. "A slight self-correction in the market compared to what we have experienced the last few years was expected and could prove to be beneficial in balancing our market with more quality inventory."

In The Zebra's study, here's how the mega-metros stack up in terms of how much square footage you can purchase at the U.S. median home price:

1. Houston, 1,935 square feet
2. Atlanta, 1,817 square feet
3. Dallas-Fort Worth, 1,726 square feet
4. Philadelphia, 1,589 square feet
5. Chicago, 1,463 square feet
6. Miami, 1,043 square feet
7. Washington, D.C., 1,012 square feet
8. Boston, 789 square feet
9. Los Angeles, 540 square feet
10. New York City, 361 square feet

"New York, L.A., and Boston may not be enough elbow room for you, but Houston, Atlanta, and Dallas will get you the most bang for your buck," The Zebra says.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

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Building Houston

 
 

This Houston staffing firm has tapped into tech to support the growing gig economy workforce. Photo via Getty Images

As the independent workforce continues to grow, a Houston-based company is aiming to connect these workers with companies that match their specific needs with a new digital platform.

FlexTek, a 14-year old recruiting and staffing company, launched a first gig site tailored to the needs of the individual worker. The platform, Workz360, is built to be able to manage projects, maintain quality control, and manage billing and year-end financial reporting.The company is also working to expanding the platform to provide infrastructure to assist independent workers with education, access to savings programs, tax compliance through vetted third-party CPA firms, and hopes in the future to assist with access to liability and medical insurance.

With a younger workforce and a shifting economy, the “gig economy,” which is another way to describe how people can earn a living as a 1099 worker, offers an alternative option to the corporate grind in a post-pandemic workscape. Chief Marketing Officer Bill Penczak of Workz360 calls this era “Gig 2.0,” and attributes the success of this type of workforce to how during the COVID-19 pandemic people learned how to work, and thrive in non-traditional work environments. The site also boasts the fact it won’t take a bite out of the worker’s pay, which could be an attractive sell for many since other sites can take up to 65 percent of profit.

“In the past few years, with the advent of gig job platforms, the Independent workers have been squeezed by gig work platforms taking a disproportionate amount of the workers’ income,” said FlexTek CEO and founder Stephen Morel in a news release. “As a result, there has been what we refer to as ‘pay padding,’ a phenomenon in which workers are raising their hourly or project rates to compensate for the bite taken by other platforms.

"Workz360 is designed to promote greater transparency, and we believe the net result will be for workers to thrive and companies to save money by using the platform,” he continues.

As the workforce has continued to change over the years, a third of the current U.S. workforce are independent workers according to FlexTek, workers have gained the ability to have more freedom where and how they work. Workz360 aims to cater to this workforce by believing in a simple mantra of treating your workers well.

“We’ve had a lot of conversations about this, but we like the Southwest Airlines model,” Penczak tells InnovationMap. “Southwest Airlines treats their people very well, and as a result those employees treat the passengers really well. We believe the same thing holds true. If we can provide resources, and transparency, and not take a bite out of what the gig worker is charging, then we will get the best and the brightest people since they feel like they won’t be taken advantage of. We think there is an opportunity to be a little different and put the people first.”

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