“The key to buying a home in Houston is to figure out the next up-and-coming neighbourhood before it arrives,” declares Sheila McNulty, the Houston and energy-business correspondent for London’s Financial Times. Then you can knock down a home there — or fix it up! And that next hot new neighborhood would be . . . ?
Momentum is building in Westbury, a 20-minute drive from downtown. Here the tree-lined streets sell suburbia: they are quiet, close to good schools (both public and private), the Medical Center – a key employer in Houston – and the Galleria shopping mall that anchors Houston. Yet they are set back from the highways and urban sprawl that characterise any big US city.
Before Westbury hit the radar of local estate agents it was Meyerland, which followed Bellaire, which followed West University, as the circle of sought-after areas around downtown Houston steadily widened.
McNulty tours a few listings in the neighborhood with Keller Williams agent Peggie Kohnert — including this “needs TLC” special at 5842 Dryad Dr., just 6 houses in from Hillcroft:
is listed at $105,900 and is in dire need of fixing up. But for someone with the right eye, the possibilities of making this into a stylish home are very real.
As we walk in the back door, which has been left open because, truly, there is nothing here anyone would want, Kohnert talks about ripping out a wall and adding a sink to the bar that is now at the centre of the house for entertaining in the living room, which is marked by a fireplace in the corner. It is just 1,460 sq ft but, with a lot at 8,280 sq ft, there is room to build on to the home with any upgrading and convert a small closet opening to the backyard into a utility room, and so on.
But we’re probably too late to cash in here: That special someone with the “right eye” has been found! The home is now listed as “sale pending.”
Does the FT have any other “up and coming” neighborhoods to clue us in on? How about . . . along Almeda?
There are still pockets of empty lots and broken-down buildings but the 1.5-mile stretch that has been renovated, with new pavement dotted with street lamps as well as new storm and sewage drains, is already attracting attention.