Many Houston newcomers drawn to inner-city living

Original article published in the Houston Chronicle: On the Move.

Houston Inner-City Living

Clayton Katz

In recent years, there has been a significant emphasis on urban renewal here in Houston.  Likewise, inner-city living continues to attract Houstonians and newcomers alike.

From popular areas such as The Heights and Montrose, to up and coming areas like EaDo (East Downtown), newcomers have many choices when it comes to urban living in Houston.

With a growing focus on walkability, many people prefer to live in an area where they will have easy access to various amenities, such as retail shops and restaurants all within close proximity to where they live.

Clayton Katz is a Realtor with John Daugherty, Realtors. He said that many people move to Houston after living in cities where they enjoyed that walkability and are looking for a similar community and lifestyle in Houston.

“I feel like Houston is getting closer to becoming a walkable city,” explained Katz. “New centers are being developed like Heights Mercantile in The Heights, and people are actually making them a destination. It’s not a bunch of chain restaurants, but locally owned establishments that are attracting people and really creating a sense of community.”

In terms of the real estate market, inner-city living generally comes with a higher price tag, which can be a barrier for many people. As such, Katz said that people are often willing to sacrifice square footage and a big back yard in favor of the conveniences that inner-city life can afford.

“The market is very competitive in the popular urban areas, and that will drive price point. We’re finding that people are spending more time outside of their houses instead of wanting a McMansion in the suburbs. They are downsizing a little bit, which is kind of a trade-off for what the area offers them,” said Katz.

EaDo is also gaining popularity among many of Katz’s younger clients.  He said that this is especially true for those who want to live within Houston’s urban core, but might not be able to afford other inner-city neighborhoods.

“I definitely have clients that are almost being priced out of other popular areas.  That’s driving the market in areas that were maybe less ideal a few years ago, but that now fit the budget and lifestyle for many people. They would rather either live in an area that is up and coming, versus living in an established suburban neighborhood,” Katz said.

He added, “I have quite a few friends who live in East Downtown, and they’re having their first babies and putting down roots.  In 5 to 7 years, I think it’s going to be just as competitive an area as The heights or Montrose.”

It’s also difficult to ignore the many rental options that are available for those who are interested in living in Houston’s urban environment.

Houston Inner-city living

Lauren Dito Walker

Lauren Dito Walker, a Realtor with Beth Wolff Realtors Real Living, said that many people who move to Houston choose to rent initially, because it gives them the opportunity to get to know the city.

“A lot of people who are relocating here might not want to buy right away, because they are not sure where they want to live,” explained Walker. “There are some nice options available that will allow people to rent for 6 or 12 months, so that they can learn which area of the city they feel more comfortable with first.”

As for pricing, she said that the rental market has gone up significantly in recent years with the construction of many new high-rises and apartment communities that feature luxury facilities and high-end finishes.

For those looking to purchase, Walker said inventory has increased slowly over the past couple of years, and that she thinks that Houston is a great place to buy a home.

“Houston is one of the largest cities in the country, and compared to Chicago, New York or L.A. our prices are more of a deal here. All of the big oil and gas companies have come here because it’s such a great place to do business and it’s less expensive to do business here. I think Houston will always see a good appreciation,” she said.

Walker added that for most of her clients, that it all comes down to lifestyle when choosing where they would like to live.

“I have a relocation client right now who lived in Cypress the last time they lived in Houston. Now, they want to be right by the White Oak Bayou Trail, so that he can ride his bike to work every day.  That’s very common. And, it has to do with the lifestyle of being in the city and having fun things to do at your fingertips,” said Walker.

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