The Surprising Cost of Renting a House in Eight Popular Houston Hoods

Categories: Surreal Estate

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The rent is TOO DAMN HIGH!
For nearly two years the Houston housing market has been booming. Home inventories are at all-time lows and the city set a record in July for total houses sold and total value of homes sold. It is no surprise then that rental costs have risen right along with home values. That includes rent houses, a market that has exploded with Houston's growth, particularly among young professionals not ready to settle into a home yet. But, with costs soaring in some of Houston's most desirable neighborhoods, it might be cheaper to buy.

We took a look at eight popular Houston neighborhoods where there were more than 15 current rental properties (that quickly excluded places like Midtown, Upper Kirby and Garden Oaks) that were not exclusively town homes (and not duplexes -- these are whole single-family dwellings), which tend to vary pretty widely in price range (this excluded the entire Galleria area, which is dotted with town homes and homes that rented for as much as $17,000!). What we found were that prices were remarkably high for rent especially considering these are single family homes, not duplexes, that don't include bills or yard maintenance -- nearly all the costs of a typical home, but without the ownership.

To get our numbers, we used Zillow's map tool and approximated general areas inside Houston's city limits with more than 10 single-family rental properties the week of August 15. We made a range from low to high for rental properties in that general area, also providing an approximate median cost for each rental. It is far from scientific, but gives a good idea of the average range of rent for properties in these neighborhoods.

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Real Estate, Like Everything Else, Getting More and More Public

Categories: Surreal Estate

Websites like Trulia and Zillow have $3.5 billion reasons to stay in business.
Recently I was speaking with a colleague who lives near me. We are both rather fixated on the development to our entire area, hoping as property values continue to rise and nearby infrastructure is improved, the surrounding commercial developments will improve. Better grocery stores. More restaurants. The whole nine yards.

The question we both had, however, was how to find out when those changes were coming. It was then I realized there are lots of ways thanks to the Internet, but with apps and websites and databases full of public information comes an openness about our homes and businesses we must learn to accept.

In the neighborhood where my wife and I bought a home last years, there is a home owners association. I never thought I would want one let alone want to be involved but the rapid growth of virtually every area inside the Beltway and the dramatic increase in the cost of real estate makes me interested in protecting my investment. But for many of the older residents of my new hood, the biggest concern is privacy, something nearly always guaranteed until recently. Now, with technology, that protection is threatened, but that's the price we pay for information.

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Rice Professor Will Study People Displaced by Houston's Residential Developments

Photo by Norm Lanier

It doesn't take a lot of looking around to see new construction all over the place in Houston. A Rice sociologist wants to find out who is being affected by Houston's rapid residential development.

Led by sociology professor Steven Murdock, the former head of the U.S. Census Bureau, Rice will begin a three-year study examining the impacts of recent urban development in Houston's metropolitan area.

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Five Things You May Not Know About 45-Year-Old IAH

Photo by Alan Cordova

Time flies, doesn't it? This weekend, George Bush Intercontinental Airport celebrated its 45th birthday. It's an international hub for the Bayou City, bringing people from around the world to Houston (sometimes for things other than tourism, we imagine).

In honor of the airport named after the 41st president, here are five things you may not know about the place with the airport code IAH:

5. Charlotte and Phoenix see more domestic travelers than IAH.
You'd think having the fourth-largest metro population in the United States would mean Houston's largest airport would see lots of domestic travelers pass through. Yes and no. According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, approximately 29 million domestic flyers passed through IAH -- good enough for 13th among major U.S. airports.

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What's the Deal with 6737 Southwest Freeway?

Photos by Aaron Reiss
The three cars in the showroom have been there for years.
"Thank you for calling the Tennessee Titans. If you know your party's extension, please dial now."

Maybe you're like me. Maybe you've seen it and wondered what the hell it was doing just sitting there.

At 6737 Southwest Freeway you'll find an abandoned car dealership. For years, as I drove on 59 South toward my mother's office, I passed the dealership. Three cars in a showroom. Another car in the lot, where a security guard sat.

At night, the lights turn on, illuminating the emptiness.

It wasn't until I started working at the Houston Press a few weeks ago that I ever had an outlet to investigate the property. Who owned it? What are their plans for it? Hell, why not at least lease it rather than just let it sit there?

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Bud Adams

Creepy Third Ward Mansion Sold for $251K

Categories: Surreal Estate

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Photo by Houston Association of Realtors
Spooky, right?

Towers, unfinished walls and a new owner -- oh my! This 4,861-square-foot five-bedroom mansion at 2309 Wichita Street sold Tuesday.

Listing Realtor Brenda Ames said in an email that the property was listed at $150,000 but after approximately 25 offers, the property sold for $251,000. That's a lot of money to pay to feel like you live on the set of American Horror Story.

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3400 Montrose: Piece of Houston History Going...Going....Gone

photos by William Michael Smith
Early stage of the demolition of 3400 Montrose Boulevard
The parking lot of Disco Kroger at the corner of Montrose and Hawthorne has been an ideal vantage point from which to watch the two-month-long demolition of yet another curious piece of Houston history. While the ten-story building at 3400 Montrose is little more than twisted girders and concrete rubble now, in its day it was one of the swankiest business addresses in the city and a night-time hot spot for several generations of Houstonians.

It will soon be replaced by a Hannover Group 30-story glass apartment tower with all the personality of a corporate headquarters, scheduled to open in 2016. But the building had in fact outlived its design and utility. One former renter of space in the building described it as "a dump."

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Ruling Means a Win for So-Called Ashby Tower Monster

Categories: Surreal Estate

Photo by Keeping it Real
Usually the monsters don't win, but we'll still have to wait and see.
After they won the first round, we're sure the folks over in the Rice Village area are quite upset after a judge today ruled to let what they consider a monster high-rise move ahead.

State District Court Judge Randy Wilson denied a motion to stop the 21-story tower project after hearing arguments in the case last week, according to reports. Neighbors in the area have been fighting for close to a decade to halt the project; the latest salvo was to get the building deemed a nuisance.

But that didn't happen.

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Putting Lives Back Together at Beacon Day Shelter

There is a shelter smack dab in the middle of downtown Houston where those who are homeless are welcome to go. There are no beds, and no overnight hours.

This place, decorated with a scattered array of cafeteria tables and not much more, is known as The Beacon. This is a homeless shelter for the daylight hours.

See more: Houston's Hidden Homeless

Clients can use the phone, eat a warm meal, or simply find a seat or a corner to rest in. Shower and restroom facilities are available, as are laundry services. Beacon clients are even offered a set of scrubs to wear while volunteers wash their clothing, because that's often the only clothing they own.

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Reality Check: Calling the Side of the Freeway Home

Categories: Surreal Estate

Photo by Brian Austin

Way out in the west Houston suburbs, there is a tent sitting on the banks of the freeway.

It is obviously someone's home, and has been for a while. It is surrounded by milk crates and bags of clothing, and I always find myself surprised at how neatly everything is stacked. Care has been taken with the placement of the belongings, and it's evident even as they sit stacked atop the dirt embankment.

I pass that tent every day on my way into our midtown office, and although I've often wondered what the story was behind it, I never bothered to do much more than hypothesize. Daydreaming about what leads people to life on the bridge was comfortable. The reality was not.

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