Category: Apartments Houston

Annual salary needed to buy a home in Houston’s best neighborhoods – 2018 update

Annual salary needed to buy a home in Houston’s best neighborhoods – 2018 update

Home ownership is a goal for many in their lifetime, but making enough money to own a home is a major determining factor.

Houston Realtor Paige Martin, a broker associate of Keller Williams Memorial, crunched the numbers for her clients on Houston Properties online and calculated the exact annual salary needed to own a home in various Houston neighborhoods for 2017.

STILL A RENTER: This is what $2,000 rents in central Houston, the suburbs

No surprise here, but River Oaks remains the most expensive Houston neighborhood to live in, with homes averaging in the $1.95 million range. In order to afford a home in this prestigious ‘hood, you’d have to make over $515,646 annually. No big deal, right?

To see the annual salary needed to live in various Houston-area neighborhoods, go through the photos above. All of the images were provided through our partnership with HAR.com.

To calculate the salary needed to own a home in select local neighborhoods, Martin and her team took into consideration a 20 percent down payment on a 30-year mortgage, 3.8 percent interest rate, Texas’ property tax rates and insurance costs. With this, the numbers were then crunched in an online Mortgage Calculator.

Martin and her team stuck with the 28 percent rule, which theorizes that the homeowner would spend no more than 28 percent of their annual salary on their home costs.

The annual home prices for each neighborhood were calculated by HAR data from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2017.

To read the full report produced by Martin and her team, visit her website here.

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Houston Speculators Make a Fast Buck From Storm’s Misery

Houston Speculators Make a Fast Buck From Storm’s Misery

Nick Pelletiere at his home in Canyon Gate, which is undergoing repairs after it was damaged by flooding during Hurricane Harvey. Mr. Pelletiere is one of the many speculators driving a new economy in the area, buying and selling flooded homes.

HOUSTON — The yard signs appeared almost immediately. Canyon Gate was still in ruins, its streets strewn with moldy furniture, the stench of rot everywhere. But somehow, someone had managed to plant dozens, maybe hundreds of them across the tiny Houston suburb. One proclaimed “Dump Your Home!” Another, stuck into the dirt, read “Flood Damage? We Can Help.”

Bernadette Leaney, 67, one of the thousands of Houston residents whose homes were swamped in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, hated them. She and her neighbors were just beginning their grim reckoning with the damage. Who could be looking to make a buck this soon? She tried to ignore the come-ons. “But then I realized I just couldn’t stand looking at them anymore,” she said. “They were adding to our despondency.”

She tore down every sign she came across — 114 by her count — until another resident told her it was one of their own neighbors who had posted many of them. His name was Nick Pelletiere, she learned. He ran a company that transported cadavers for funeral homes, but recently he had expanded into another lightly regulated trade: buying and selling flooded homes. People in Canyon Gate called him Shady Nick.

Mr. Pelletiere is one of the many speculators driving a new — and somewhat confounding — economy in neighborhoods across post-Harvey Houston, one that is especially notable in Canyon Gate, a subdivision built in the 1990s where rice fields once stretched to the horizon. Many parts of the city were hit hard by the hurricane, but Canyon Gate has the extraordinary distinction of being built within the confines of a reservoir specifically designed by the Army Corps of Engineers to protect central Houston from calamitous flooding. Nearly every one of the 721 homes there is destined to flood again, yet the local trade in storm-damaged real estate is flourishing.

Canyon Gate’s dilemma lays bare a defining feature of coastal life in a time of climate change: Many of the neighborhoods where we already live should never have been built in the first place, and doubling down on reconstruction could make the consequences of the next disaster much more severe. But doubling down is what speculators do, and — at least in the short term — they are profiting from their efforts.

“I’m the guy who put up the bandit signs around town,” Mr. Pelletiere said one morning in February in his own flooded home, where he and his family were living on the second floor as contractors slowly repaired the first. He said that, like most of his neighbors, he had no idea that he was living inside a reservoir until the hurricane unleashed nearly 50 inches of rain and the reservoir — just as its designers intended — flooded the land all around him.

But where some saw calamity, Mr. Pelletiere, a 47-year-old Chicagoan who followed his star to Houston two years ago, saw opportunity. Even as a volunteer boat team was evacuating him, his wife, their two children and the family dog, he was growing obsessed with a single thought: It’s time to buy.

And buy he did. Within weeks, Mr. Pelletiere snapped up seven properties in areas hit by Harvey, all at a steep discount from their pre-storm values, pocketing sizable gains while some of his neighbors were grappling with financial ruin. In one deal, Mr. Pelletiere bought a flooded four-bedroom home, valued at $280,000 before the storm, for $135,000. He sold it the same day to another investor for $165,000. After accounting for closing costs and the interest he paid on a short-term loan to complete the transaction (Mr. Pelletiere rarely uses his own money for such deals) he walked away with about $27,000, all in the space of just a few hours.

Mr. Pelletiere laughed when he learned that his neighbors had taken to calling him Shady Nick. He said that the months since the storm had tested everyone. In December, he briefly “flatlined” during a test of his heart rate, he said. A few days later, he underwent surgery to have a pacemaker implanted in his chest to help treat heart failure.

Neither the shady nickname nor the abnormal heart rate seemed to faze him.

“My other business is picking up dead people for funeral homes,” Mr. Pelletiere said. “A nice recession-proof hedge against real estate: people are always dying. Those who are alive need to buy or sell their homes. For me it comes down to the numbers of whether a deal is feasible.”

Signs for services related to flood damage appeared around the neighborhood not long after Harvey swept through, destroying homes and forcing residents to throw away mud-covered belongings.
Luring Fortune Seekers

Houston has always drawn fortune seekers looking to make a quick buck. The city was founded in 1836 by two brothers from New York, John and Augustus Allen, who had immigrated to what was then northeast Mexico only to side with the pro-slavery separatists who led the Texas Revolution. Within a few months of the war’s conclusion, they began to develop a patch of land on the Buffalo Bayou. They made a fortune in the murky trade of land certificates, promising would-be settlers that their mud-bogged, landlocked new city idyllically offered “the sea breeze in all its freshness.”

Houston rose to prominence as the Gulf Coast’s premier trading metropolis only after a hurricane laid waste to nearby Galveston, in 1900. But Houston, which is projected in about a decade to edge past Chicago as the third largest city in the United States, has endured its own share of weather misfortune. The reservoir in which Canyon Gate persists owes its existence to yet another calamity, the Great Houston Flood of 1935. Rains that year turned the streets of downtown Houston into choppy rivers, killing several people and shutting down the Port of Houston for eight months. The solution? Authorities built flood-control reservoirs in the 1940s, in effect creating new flood zones to protect the old ones.

Canyon Gate is designed to flood, but it is not part of the 100-year floodplain defined by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, so it is not covered by FEMA rules that require mortgage seekers in flood zones to buy flood insurance. Some residents say little effort has been made to inform buyers of the risks they face.

In the beginning, it seemed like there was no need. “Back in the 1940s, when the reservoirs were built, this place was way out of town, and they thought that the cows would just get out of the way if there was some overflow,” said Judge Robert E. Hebert, a top elected official in Fort Bend County, a once sparsely-populated expanse that now has more than 700,000 residents, including those in Canyon Gate.

But in the late 1990s, bolstered by Houston’s rapid expansion and the construction of new roads nearby, a residential development company called Land Tejas unveiled plans for Canyon Gate. County officials insisted that the developer warn prospective buyers that the homes lay in a flood reservoir, and Land Tejas agreed to do so, but only by way of an obscure filing. “This subdivision is adjacent to the Barker Reservoir and is subject to extended controlled inundation under the management of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers,” the developer stated in 1997 in the fine print of the plat, the county’s document approving the Canyon Gate subdivision.

“This is a man-made disaster we’re dealing with, make no mistake,” Judge Hebert said. “All these houses shouldn’t have been built in the first place, and now the speculators are moving in. The last thing I’d want to do is buy a house flooded in a reservoir.”

And yet the neighborhood is attractive in many ways. Canyon Gate, as its name suggests, offers a coveted sense of safety. It is also a remarkably cheap place to buy a home, and getting even cheaper. Spacious three-bedroom homes sold for about $230,000 before the storm, drawing some buyers from costlier real estate markets elsewhere in the United States. Now, homes in Canyon Gate go for about $130,000, and investors are scrambling to bet on Houston’s recovery.

Before the storm and after, Canyon Gate stood out for its capacity for welcoming people from around the world, its cul-de-sacs home to Nigerians, Indians, Venezuelans and Canadians, along with people from dozens of other countries. Fort Bend County ranks among the most ethnically diverse places in the world. Scholars at Rice University’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research recently found that Fort Bend rivaled the diversity of New York and Los Angeles, with 35 percent of its population Anglo, 24 percent Latino, 21 percent African-American, and 19 percent Asian. Metropolitan Houston already has a population of 6.6 million and it is projected to reach 14.2 million by 2050, according to the Texas Demographic Center.

As Houston sprawls over the prairies, its residents are reckoning with the likelihood that the city will flood time and again in the decades ahead. And if Canyon Gate is a harbinger, that means homeowners will face dizzying choices with each big storm: rebuild on the same spot, pull up stakes and move on — or effectively trade on their neighbors’ misfortune.

The Disaster Economy

Mr. Pelletiere, for his part, sees nothing wrong with buying flooded homes. He said he did not expect everyone to approve of what he was doing, but said that investing in such real estate depended on acquiring local knowledge and accurately measuring the value of a property. Even now, he said he refrained from informing buyers of his damaged homes of the flood risks, explaining that the law did not require him to do so.

“Yeah, people call me a vulture when they learn what I do,” said Mr. Pelletiere, his sturdy frame clad in home-office attire of jeans, T-shirt and stocking feet on a typical work day in February. He was darting around his home, barking instructions to construction workers fixing the first floor.

“In reality I’m offering homeowners solutions,” Mr. Pelletiere said. “I was flooded, too, I get it, but this hurricane is a monstrous opportunity.”

Born and raised in Chicago, Mr. Pelletiere grew up washing dishes for $1 an hour in his father’s Italian restaurant. He dropped out of community college, he said, after realizing that higher education was not for him.

Seeking opportunity, he lit out west for Southern California, where he met his wife, who works in the aviation software industry. Undaunted by his lack of a college degree, Mr. Pelletiere worked in corporate sales jobs, founded his cadaver-transport venture, and dabbled in real estate in San Diego, embracing the chance to use those skills when his wife was transferred to Houston.

Mr. Pelletiere inspected a property for the first time that he purchased sight unseen in Canyon Gate.

For some of his neighbors who remain unaware of his business activities, Mr. Pelletiere is just another recent transplant to Houston’s suburbs. He keeps a low profile, coaching his son’s baseball team and working from home, managing by phone and email his employees who drive vans around Southern California with bodies in them. With his earnings swelling after flipping homes in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, Mr. Pelletiere said he was planning to embrace Texas’ business culture even more energetically, eyeing investments in dozens of oil wells in parts of the state.

After the storm in August, Mr. Pelletiere joined a constellation of other speculators scrambling to buy flooded homes on the cheap. Mr. Pelletiere said that his ambition was to rival pioneering operators in the space, like Big State Home Buyers, one of Houston’s largest buyers of storm-damaged properties.

Brian Spitz, Big State’s president, said that he had developed a model for evaluating such homes, one that considered factors such as a neighborhood’s desirability, whether the property was in a FEMA-designated flood zone, a subdivision’s history of flooding and how much of a neighborhood flooded. Canyon Gate scored well on nearly every measure, and Big State bought 13 homes in the neighborhood in the months after the hurricane.

Mr. Spitz, a fourth-generation Texan with family roots in the pest control business, plunged into the post-disaster frenzy, snapping up 150 homes around Houston in the first 90 days after the storm. He said that some of the most alluring opportunities were found in areas with relatively low-priced properties before the storm, since homeowners in those neighborhoods sometimes lacked the financial resources to quickly rebuild.

“Canyon Gate looked like a war zone after the storm,” Mr. Spitz said. “I’ve never seen anything like it, and this is a city with a high frequency of flooding. In a place like that, we’re like the first responders, critical to getting the economy moving again, equipped to take on the risk.”

Constructions crews made repairs to a home in Canyon Gate.
The Cycle Continues

Ms. Leaney, who tore down all the bandit signs around Canyon Gate, remains one of the neighborhood’s biggest boosters. A Canadian immigrant from British Columbia, she moved to Houston 13 years ago after living in Britain, Indonesia and France, countries where her husband worked for an oil services company. She said she was drawn to the community by its affordability and its access to open spaces. Now she is the president of the homeowners’ association.

On a walk with her dogs one rainy day in February, Ms. Leaney noted that — but for the alligators, the wild boars and the occasional teenagers firing their shotguns — the woods that surround the reservoir’s diversion channel could pass for the English countryside.

She said that her views on speculating in flooded homes had evolved to the point where she and her husband recently decided to take the plunge themselves, buying a damaged home on their street for their daughter and her fiancé.

“Some people say the investors are horrible, preying on vulnerable people, but that’s not my view,” said Ms. Leaney, emphasizing that buyers of flooded homes were paying the association’s dues, badly needed for the upkeep of playgrounds, picnic areas, swimming facilities and attendants at the front gate. “The investors like Nick are saving us. This is tough to acknowledge, but where would we be without them?”

Research by climate scientists suggests that speculators of flooded homes will only see their market expand. FEMA estimates that only 13 million Americans are now exposed to the destruction of a “100-year-flood,” a benchmark used to describe an extreme flood with a 1 percent chance of occurring in any year, but researchers at the University of Bristol and The Nature Conservancy found instead that 41 million people in the country are at risk of such flooding — suggesting the authorities are vastly underestimating the risk of catastrophic weather.

The Environmental Protection Agency also acknowledges that flooding is growing much more frequent along the United States coastline, especially in Mid-Atlantic States where subsiding land and increases in relative sea level contribute to making floods 10 times more common in some areas than in the 1950s.

James Smith, right, a real estate agent who deals in flooded homes. He acknowledged he is often the recipient of considerable negative energy from residents.

Human induced climate change not only made Hurricane Harvey more destructive, but is also tripling the chances of further extreme rainfall along the Gulf Coast, according to studies presented at a recent meeting of the American Geophysical Union. One study showed that the seven-day rainfall from Harvey increased by at least 19 percent, and perhaps by as much as 38 percent, compared with similar storms in the mid-20th century, when the reservoirs designed to save the rest of Houston were built.

Antonia Sebastian, a flood engineer at Rice University on the team of researchers that described how climate change made Hurricane Harvey more destructive, said she was as stunned as anyone to discover where Canyon Gate was built. “If you drive around that area it’s surreal, because you don’t even recognize you’re in a reservoir,” Ms. Sebastian said. “It’s so suburban, so flat, so normal, and they’re already rebuilding. I don’t know what else to say other than recommend that the people living there get flood insurance.”

For the speculators, the cycle of destruction presents a simpler proposition. James Smith, a fast-talking, cowboy-boot clad veteran of the Marines, moved to Houston from Florida after the 2008 housing crash. As a real estate agent who deals in flooded homes, he acknowledged he is often the recipient of considerable negative energy.

Some of the residents in Canyon Gate questioning why he would do such work showed him the middle finger when he pulled up in his Mercedes S.U.V. Others simply looked away, as if his presence was a reminder of their ebbing fortunes.

But none of that bothers him, he said. It’s all just a passing moment.

“Wait a few more months and you’ll see,” Mr. Smith said. “Everyone’s going to have short-term memory loss and life will get back to normal. Or what counts as normal around here.”

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Houston ISD Board President: ‘We Have A Tough Year Ahead’

Houston ISD Board President: ‘We Have A Tough Year Ahead’

HOUSTON, TX — More than 1,500 folks packed a ballroom at the Hilton Americas-Houston on Thursday for the annual Houston ISD State of the Schools luncheon, and the message wasn’t minced. HISD Superintendent Richard Carranza and HISD Board of Education President Rhonda Skillern-Jones got straight to the point when offering their assessment.

Both of the leaders urged business professionals and state lawmakers to work with the district in advocating for changes to the state’s funding system for public education.

“The last time the state of Texas updated its school funding system, Ronald Reagan was President of the United States. That was 1984, and a lot has changed since 1984,” Carranza said. “We need a school finance system that will reflect the needs of today’s students and does not so heavily rely on local property taxes to fund schools. We continue to do more with less because the state does not give school districts their fair share for public education. We have lawmakers in the room right now, and we urge them to support a system that provides a better education for our children in the 21st century.”

Keeping with the event theme “Rebuild and Reimagine,” both touted the district’s commitment to innovation, ensuring equity within all schools, and creating a world-class school district despite post-Hurricane Harvey challenges.

“We have a tough year ahead,” Skillern-Jones said. “Harvey wreaked havoc on our employees and students as it did our entire city. The water may be gone, but its devastation remains. We need your help to rebuild and reimagine.”

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The HISD Foundation sponsored Thursday’s annual luncheon that was sponsored by Chevron. The program highlighted students, teachers and schools from across the district. Among those participating were the Mickey Leland College Preparatory Academy for Young Men Barbershop Quartet, All-District Honors Jazz Band, the Lamar High School cheerleaders and orators who performed monologues for the Project aDOORe exhibit.

“The State of the Schools Luncheon is such an exciting opportunity for the community to hear directly from the superintendent about the priorities of the Houston Independent School District as well as a great way for us to showcase some of the innovative and exciting things happening with students on campuses all over the district,” HISD Foundation Executive Director Ann Scott said on the HISD website. “We’re also so grateful to our guests for helping the HISD Foundation raise funds to support our Innovation Fund, which allows us to invest in schools and promote innovative opportunities for our students to learn and grow.”

In his second address since assuming leadership of the district last school year, Carranza addressed some of HISD’s greatest challenges, including a projected $208 million deficit and the state’s school finance system, which has led HISD to recapture.

Carranza called recapture today’s most pressing issue for HISD. Although HISD serves 76 percent of economically disadvantaged students, HISD is considered “property-wealthy” and is required to send millions of its local property taxes to the state to distribute to poorer school districts — the so-called “Robin Hood Plan” as it’s known around the state.

“This year, we’re going to have to write an estimated $260 million check to the state of Texas because of recapture,” Carranza said. “Ironically, if we did not have a recapture payment and the state of Texas would step up to its constitutionally required duty to properly fund public education, we could eliminate the deficit at HISD and have additional funds to provide resources for our students in the communities that need it most.”

Despite budget challenges, Carranza says HISD remains more committed than ever to its obligation to educate the whole child and provide the essential services students need to be successful. As part of that commitment, the district is reimagining how it supports students outside the classroom, expanding services such as housing, food, or healthcare through wraparound services.

Carranza also addressed HISD’s status as one the largest employers in the region, with nearly 31,000 employees whose direct constituents are the 214,000 students enrolled in HISD and how important partnership is to the district’s future.

“Those 214,000 students will soon be your workforce. So let’s talk about how we can work together to build some academies so we’re infusing the kind of skills and innovation that you want when we graduate those students. Your partnership now is crucial because together, we are educating the future economic engine of our community. In the face of a more than $200 million deficit and without the investment of people like you, innovative programs will not be available for our students, and that is not fair for our future workforce.”

The event featured projects funded by the HISD Foundation’s Innovation Fund through funds raised at the 2017 State of the Schools luncheon. Those projects include Hartsfield Elementary School, which used a 3D printer to create a wheelchair cart for a dog that could not use her hind legs. Also, M.C. Williams Middle School students used a 3D printer to make a prosthetic arm for a sixth-grade student at the Mandarin Immersion Magnet School.

During the event, three schools were announced as winners of Innovation Grants. Berry Elementary School will receive a $3,100 grant from the HISD Foundation’s Innovation Fund, McReynolds Middle School will receive a $7,000 grant, and Sharpstown High School will receive a $20,000 grant. Berry will use its grant for supplies and equipment to create a “Makers Space” for its kindergarten students. McReynolds will use the grant for a STEM and literacy program called “Robots and Literature: Rolling in the Genres.” Sharpstown will use the grant to purchase supplies, equipment, and materials for the Sharpstown Storytelling project, a digital storytelling project that will not only help students improve their literacy and communication skills, but allow them to share their stories.

“This was all made possible because of generous donations to the HISD Foundation’s Innovation Fund,” Carranza said.

Houston ISD contributed to this report

Photo via HISD video

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Top 5 Houston submarkets for apartment rentals revealed – Houston Business Journal

Top 5 Houston submarkets for apartment rentals revealed – Houston Business Journal

Downtown is the hottest rental submarket in Houston, according to a February 2018 report from Houston-based ApartmentData.com, a data website that tracks the multifamily industry.

The report looked at a combination of rental rate growth and absorption over the past three months and attributed downtown with a 12.3 percent annualized growth from November through January, while the Interstate 10 East/Woodforest/Channelview submarket came in second with a 6.6 percent annualized growth, according to ApartmentData.com.

Bruce McClenny, president of ApartmentData.com, explained downtown’s high rank is due to new properties that have come on the market, such as Aris Market Square, which opened in September 2017. The Hines luxury high-rise features a designated dog-washing room, a bike repair room and a garden terrace and patio accessible 24 hours a day.

In relation to other parts of the city, downtown didn’t have much supply to begin with, McClenny said. Currently there are 23 properties downtown with almost 6,000 units while two years ago the supply was about half of that. These mainly Class-A apartments have been slower to lease up, he said, with an average occupancy rate close to 68 percent as of the end of January.

Top five Houston submarkets for apartments by annualized growth from November-January, according to ApartmentData.com:

• Downtown, 12.3 percent

• I-10 East/Woodforest/ Channelview, 6.6 percent

• Bear Creek/ Copperfield/ Fairfield, 7.4 percent

• Greenspoint/Northborough/Aldine, 5 percent

• Brookhollow/Northwest Crossing, 3.7 percent

Three out of the five submarkets (I-10 East, Bear Creek and Greenspoint), saw Hurricane Harvey-induced rent growth, due to a diminished supply of apartments after the storm. As flooded-out homeowners looked for apartments in the area that pushed up demand for a limited pool of options. More demand and less supply typically equates to raising prices, McClenny said.

Brookhollow, the fifth-hottest submarket, is “just a steady performer,” McClenny explained, consistently performing well in relation to the city’s 42 submarkets.

Currently across Houston, the occupancy rate is 89.3 percent with an average monthly rent of $1,016 as of Jan. 31, across all apartment classes in town. Houston has a slightly lower occupancy rate than other major Texas cities such as Dallas-Fort Worth (91.4 percent), San Antonio (89.7 percent) and Austin (90.1 percent).

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Large Sized Garage Apartments Houston

Large Sized Garage Apartments Houston

Garage apartments Houston is the best way to avail the different facilities of a house as well as an apartment at the very same time. These apartments can be of different types and they can vary greatly as well. These can be different when it comes to the ways in which they are constructed. They help you have a very good usage and provide security as well.

There are many simple, sophisticated, as well as modern “garage apartments, Houston” boards that are titled the same way for advertising. When you think of all this then you are definitely thinking of privacy and the garage facility along with it. Many people are also thinking of the cost at the same time. This is why many people do not ask for garage apartments only. They look for other settings too. However, there are many garage apartments according to their construction types. You should know them well so you can negotiate on the building and other costs and can buy them easily too. Some of these aspects are given below

  • Allowable area

This helps you know about the price of the garage apartment that you are being charged of. It can vary the price greatly so knowing this is very important.

  • Allowable height

The allowable height should be very well known because you would never want to risk safety in order to make your apartment roof look beautiful. Hence make sure this is known well.

  • Allowable number of stories

A garage apartment can have a number of stories in it too. This is why if you do not want to spend a lot of your money or allowance on this aspect then you can look for single story garage apartments too. This will reduce the cost and bring a good garage apartment right in your budget.

  • Cost per square

The cost per square is the aspect that you should definitely know when you are buying a garage apartment because you can estimate how much of material is invested in it and if you are paying for the right amount or not. This can help one determine if the price is good or too high.

Now that you know the different aspects that matter when buying a garage apartment, you surely do not need to worry about price. This can now be negotiated well and asked for buying in known price too.

Affordable Garage Apartments Houston Decoration Tips

Affordable Garage Apartments Houston Decoration Tips

Rented garage apartments Houston has their goodness and drawbacks. In a rented apartment, you do not have to pay those hefty taxes and can move to a new location every few months. But another drawback is that you cannot make changes in the rented apartments as they do not belong to use. If you want to shift the kitchen from left to right side, you cannot and if you do not like the drab wall color you have to adjust. However here are some tips on changing the way your apartment looks for renters. There ideas do not change damage to the apartment and can move with you to the next apartment-

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