Monday, July 6, 2009

"Trendy" Housing

Despite that Houston has some of the most affordable housing in the nation, there are those who would have us believe that it really isn't so affordable. A few recent posts at neoHouston have made this claim. The most recent post compares apples and oranges, and drops context. The post compares homes in "trendy" areas of Houston with similar areas in other cities and concludes:
[W]hen one compares areas of Houston comparable to similar areas in what is traditionally thought of as “more expensive” areas of the country, Houston is not as much of a bargain as one would think. The difference with Houston is that the vast majority of its housing stock and neighborhoods are in sprawling developments and these share little in common with places like Arlington or Capitol Hill.
While such comparisons might be interesting, what I found more interesting is what was not mentioned.

While comparing Houston housing with Arlington and Capitol Hill, no mention is made of the size of the respective homes. The poster did mention the lot size of the Arlington property, but I don't know of anyone who lives on a lot--people live in homes and that is their primary concern when purchasing a home.

The fact that is conveniently overlooked is that in Houston one gets much more for his money--more house, more rooms, more modern conveniences built into the home, etc. Indeed, one comment addressed this fact:
This is sort of an apples and oranges comparison - a large, new, and modern townhouse to a small, 80-year old structure. On a square footage basis, the Montrose home is valued at $174.5/sf, while the Arlington home is valued at $571/sf.
The Arlington home is three times as expensive on a square foot basis. The poster ignored this fact, and is more concerned about access to public transportation.

Further, the poster selected "trendy" areas of Houston, ignoring the huge and varied number of choices available to Houstonians. While Montrose or Midtown may be "trendy", you won't see many families purchasing homes in those neighborhoods. Such a comparison is worthless to anyone who isn't into being "trendy". Such people can purchase a large home in Sugarland, Pearland, Katy, the Woodlands, or many other places for a fraction of the numbers cited. Most people aren't as concerned with being as "trendy" as the poster.

Why didn't he compare housing costs in Katy, Pearland, or Sugarland with the prices in comparable suburbs in his selected cities? Could it be that there are no comparable suburbs? Could it be that citizens of other cities have far fewer options than those who live in Houston?

There is nothing wrong with using one's personal preferences when making a decision about purchasing a home. But to use those preferences to make broad generalized statements about an entire city is a gross evasion of the facts.

1 comment:

A Franco said...

This comment is based on my personal preferences and experiences. I have lived in several different cities across the country, as renter, and after getting to know Houston, which does take time, I found it to be the easiest, in sheer affordability, for finding a quality apartment.
-A Franco (NYC)