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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Houston-based health tech startup is revolutionizing patient selection for clinical trials

working smarter

On many occasions in her early career, Dr. Arti Bhosale, co-founder and CEO of Sieve Health, found herself frustrated with having to manually sift through thousands of digital files.

The documents, each containing the medical records of a patient seeking advanced treatment through a clinical trial, were always there to review — and there were always more to read.

Despite the tediousness of prescreening, which could take years, the idea of missing a patient and not giving them the opportunity to go through a potentially life-altering trial is what kept her going. The one she didn’t read could have slipped through the cracks and potentially not given someone care they needed.

“Those stories have stayed with me,” she says. “That’s why we developed Sieve.”

When standard health care is not an option, advances in medical treatment could be offered through clinical trials. But matching patients to those trials is one of the longest standing problems in the health care industry. Now with the use of new technology as of 2018, the solution to the bottleneck may be a new automated approach.

“Across the globe, more than 30 percent of clinical trials shut down as a result of not enrolling enough patients,” says Bhosale. “The remaining 80 percent never end up reaching their target enrollment and are shut down by the FDA.”

In 2020, Bhosale and her team developed Sieve Health, an AI cloud-based SaaS platform designed to automate and accelerate matching patients with clinical trials and increase access to clinical trials.

Sieve’s main goal is to reduce the administrative burden involved in matching enrollments, which in turn will accelerate the trial execution. They provide the matching for physicians, study sponsors and research sites to enhance operations for faster enrollment of the trials.

The technology mimics but automates the traditional enrollment process — reading medical notes and reviewing in the same way a human would.

“I would have loved to use something like this when I was on the front lines,” Bhosale says, who worked in clinical research for over 12 years. “Can you imagine going through 10,000 records manually? Some of the bigger hospitals have upwards of 100,000 records and you still have to manually review those charts to make sure that the patient is eligible for the trial. That process is called prescreening. It is painful.”

Because physicians wear many hats and have many clinical efforts on their plates, research tends to fall to the bottom of the to-do list. Finding 10-20 patients can take the research team on average 15-20 months to find those people — five of which end up unenrolling, she says.

“We have designed the platform so that the magic can happen in the background, and it allows the physician and research team to get a jumpstart,” she says.” They don’t have to worry about reviewing 10,000 records — they know what their efforts are going to be and will ensure that the entire database has been scanned.”

With Sieve, the team was able to help some commercial pilot programs have a curated data pool for their trials – cutting the administrative burden and time spent searching to less than a week.

Sieve is in early-stage start up mode and the commercial platform has been rolled out. Currently, the team is conducting commercial projects with different research sites and hospitals.

“Our focus now is seeing how many providers we can connect into this,” she says. “There’s a bigger pool out there who want to participate in research but don’t know where to start. That’s where Sieve is stepping in and enabling them to do this — partnering with those and other groups in the ecosystem to bring trials to wherever the physicians and the patients are.”

Arti Bhosale is the co-founder and CEO of Sieve Health. Photo courtesy of Sieve

Houston nonprofit unveils new and improved bayou cleaning vessel

litter free

For over 20 years, a nonprofit organization has hired people to clean 14 miles of bayou in Houston. And with a newly updated innovative boat, keeping Buffalo Bayou clean just got a lot more efficient.

Buffalo Bayou Partnership unveils its newest version of the Bayou-Vac this week, and it's expected to be fully operational this month. BBP Board Member Mike Garver designed both the initial model of the custom-designed and fabricated boat as well as the 2022 version. BBP's Clean & Green team — using Garver's boat — has removed around 2,000 cubic yards of trash annually, which is the equivalent of about 167 commercial dump trucks. The new and improved version is expected to make an even bigger impact.

“The Bayou-Vac is a game changer for our program,” says BBP field operations manager, Robby Robinson, in a news release. “Once up and running, we foresee being able to gain an entire workday worth of time for every offload, making us twice as efficient at clearing trash from the bayou.”

Keeping the bayou clean is important, since the water — and whatever trash its carrying — runs off into Galveston Bay, and ultimately, the Gulf of Mexico. The improvements made to the Bayou-Vac include removable dumpsters that can be easily swapped out, slid off, and attached to a dump truck. The older model included workers having to manually handle trash and debris and a secondary, land-based vacuum used to suck out the trash from onboard.

Additionally, the Bayou-Vac now has a moveable, hydraulic arm attached to the bow of the vessel that can support the weight of the 16-foot vacuum hose. Again, this task was something done manually on the previous model of the Bayou-Vac.

“BBP deeply appreciates the ingenuity of our board member Mike Garver and the generosity of Sis and Hasty Johnson and the Kinder Foundation, the funders of the new Bayou-Vac,” BBP President Anne Olson says in the release. “We also thank the Harris County Flood Control District and Port Houston for their longtime support of BBP’s Clean & Green Program.”