06/04/12 11:36pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: OH, AND WATCH OUT FOR THOSE AREAS NEAR THE SHIP CHANNEL TOO “If you are looking inside the loop at places like Eastwood or just outside the loop at places like Oak Ridge and Westbury, be careful that your house is at least 1000 feet from any highways. Living within 1000 feet of a major highway can expose your children to serious air quality issues in addition to what we already have to endure in Houston. Also, make sure that you get the house tested for lead paint and be ready to have some cash on hand to do some work to remediate any lead paint on the interior and any lead paint that is coming off on the exterior. I always thought that I was being overly cautious when I had my house remediated before moving in. But one day I had my then 4 month old baby on the changing table and watched as he scratched the paint on the wall with his finger and then put his finger in his mouth . . .” [Old School, commenting on Crazy for the Inner Loop]

06/04/12 12:24pm

CRAZY FOR THE INNER LOOP “I’m sort of at my wit’s end, I don’t have anyone else I can ask, so here goes: say you have $150K–$200K (closer to $150K would be best/more realistic) to spend on a house anywhere in Houston — where do you buy, now, at this point in 2012? We’d prefer to keep it in the loop, and we’ve got a baby with more possibly on the way. Trying to buy a house in this city is driving me insane.” [Swamplot inbox]

04/15/10 3:24pm

FACTORY-BUILT GREEN HOMES FOR HOUSTON A reader goes house shopping: “Do you have any ideas on green modular/prefabricated homes available to the Houston area? There are lots out there, but most of them are so far away that the delivery cost defeats the purpose of low-cost housing and reduced carbon footprint. That even includes the Clayton Homes’ i-House! . . . Something like Nationwide’s Osprey house (which isn’t available to Texas). Mass produced so they are cheap, but using green materials and finishes. . . . Seems like there are a lot of options out there, but mostly too far from Houston to be economically viable.” [Swamplot inbox] Photo of i-House: Life in the Country

07/10/09 8:51am

BABY NEEDS A NEW PAIR OF SCHOOLS “Inspired by the birth of our first baby” and the idea that there might be some deals out there, a reader writes in to ask for help with a home search: “We started off looking to be zoned Spring Branch – Memorial HS or HISD – Bellaire high school and are looking for a single family home (no townhome or patio homes). Generally speaking range house price expectations $400 – $600k, so we are expecting to end up in a lower to maybe lower mid range value of homes in the applicable neighborhoods. Recently discovered area code 77055 (had been focused on 77024 for Memorial). We are wondering what people’s opinions of Hillshire Village / Spring Valley / Hedwig in terms of long term appreciation / ability to resale / quality of neighborhood? Seems from an outsiders perspective Memorial and Bellaire area have generally hung in there, not sure of the perception of 77055 among Houstonians. Of course, high school for a little one is a long ways off – where would people target in this price range to squeeze into the best neighborhood (qualitatively based on long term appreciation and quality of neighborhood for a family) in the current market?” [Swamplot inbox]

05/18/09 4:08pm

FORECLOSURE HOMEBUYING EXCITEMENT! The tally from all those rounds of speed-buying at the George R. Brown REDC foreclosure auction yesterday: 106 properties, totaling $7.7 million dollars — plus a few giddy new homeowners: “It happened so quickly that Shamika Hayes wasn’t quite sure how it happened. ‘I wasn’t paying attention and kept raising my hand,’ Hayes told us. But in an auction where houses were selling in 90 seconds or less, the family of four bought their very first home sight unseen. Understandably they were a little nervous about that last fact.” [abc13]

05/14/09 2:39pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: SACRIFICE BUY “ANYONE can afford to live in the loop, I am convinced of that. The question best answered is ‘What are you willing to give up to do so?’. If you have large housing demands with a limited budget, chances are the suburbs is your answer. If you can live modestly, there are plenty of Inner Loop properties for you.” [Jeff, commenting on Sub-Suburban SUV Adventure: Braving That Big Trip “Downtown”]

01/27/09 8:25am

A question from a Swamplot reader:

My husband and I lost our Heights bungalow (and the hundred-year-old oaks that shaded it) to Hurricane Ike. We have decided donate the remnants of the house to Historic Houston for salvage, sell our lot . . . and use our insurance settlement to pursue our dream of purchasing an older commercial building, like an old two-story brick grocery store, somewhere inside the loop in the $200K – $350 range, 3000 – 4000 sq. ft., for mixed use as a residence upstairs and studio space/small theater downstairs. We are not having much luck.

My question is this: aside from all the usual avenues–Commgate, Loopnet, HAR, reading blogs, driving around, submitting LOI’s, what other resources exist for novice commercial buyers, like us?

12/05/08 11:00am

HOLIDAY HEAT Fireplaces in Houston are kind of like spleens or tonsils; probably used to be necessary, but really just for decoration now, until they flare up and cause a problem, or allow racoons, birds and rats unfettered access to your living room. Along with all the other picturesque images of family life I gleaned from Norman Rockwell and Walt Disney, I always envisioned my home with a fireplace. The only trouble is, Drew makes so much of his own heat that he can barely stand to be near himself without sweating. I’m always moments from losing a limb to frostbite, so it’s difficult for us to agree on a mutually comfortable temperature. But, as you can tell, the fireplace is lit in this photo, so we must be learning to compromise. Indeed. All I have to do to make Drew thrilled to sit in front of a lit fire in December is turn on the fan. And the air conditioner.” [A Peine for Your Thoughts]

12/03/08 4:11pm

Note: Story updated below.

The mystery buyer of the house at 834 W. 24th St. has revealed herself! Quilter, artist, and Art Car builder Kim Ritter, who says she was “raised mid-century modern,” expects to close on the Museum of the Weird on December 15th. Museum curator Dolan Smith is planning his own art sale on the property two days earlier; Ritter says that the sale will run from 2 to 8 pm, and that the prices will be far less than what you’d expect to pay for, say, a sculpture made of hair:

Come by and get a bargain, stuff starting at 5 and 10 dollars!

Ritter tells Swamplot she’s purchased some of Smith’s work herself, including a piece entitled “Man of Ten Thousand Nails,” which she intends to keep on the property.

Does this mean the museum will be preserved?


12/01/08 2:45pm

LAS VEGAS TO HOUSTON: WHAT ARE THE ODDS? A Swamplot reader requests a long hard look at the Houston housing market crystal ball: “Do any ‘experts’ lurking among Swamplot’s readership have any thoughts on long-term residential price trends in Houston? Me and the missus were trying to sell our home in Vegas (good house, great neighborhood, bad timing). Now we will be holding on to it until the Vegas market starts coming back — whenever that is. I’m trying to get an idea on what prices could look like when we finally have the funds to buy locally (6 months – 1 year, depending). Any info or sites that might help us answer those questions would be greatly appreciated.” [Swamplot inbox]

10/30/08 2:25pm

Hannah Project Row House CDC Duplexes on Francis St. Under Construction, Third Ward, Houston

Division St. Duplexes Behind Project Row Houses, Third Ward, HoustonRow House CDC has completed a second group of 8 duplexes for low- to moderate-income residents — on Francis St. between Dowling and Live Oak. That’s just north of the growing Third Ward campus of Project Row Houses, the CDC’s sister organization. At least 6 units are still available, reports Robin Foster in the Chronicle:

The units range from 700 to 900 square feet; 10 are family-sized with three bedrooms and 1½ baths and six have two bedrooms and one bath.

[Row House CDC executive director Alain] Lee said funds for the project were stretched to allow the builder to frame-in back porches. If additional money can be found, the porches will be finished as part of a courtyard envisioned for both the new and original housing complexes, he said.

All 16 duplexes were based on designs by students in the Rice Building Workshop at Rice University.

Photo of Francis St. duplexes under construction: Flickr user b2tse; photo of original duplexes along Division St.: Row House CDC

07/18/08 3:34pm

AND JUST IMAGINE HOW WELL THEY’D DO IF THERE WERE JOBS OR SHOPPING NEARBY! Discovery at Spring Trails, Land Tejas’s gated and solar-panel-badged community north of Spring, is selling well, says Lisa Gray: “. . . only a few weeks after Discovery put itself on the market, and without even a finished house that would-be buyers can tour, most of the lots ready for building have been optioned, and the developer is scrambling to make more available fast. In fact, Discovery is off to the fastest start of any development in the company’s 11-year history, and Land Tejas expects demand to pick up even more this fall. Already, propelled mostly by Google searches, 200 to 300 people a week are touring the neighborhood’s ‘Discovery Center.'” [Houston Chronicle]

06/27/08 1:54pm

Wabi Sabi House, 2316 Bartlett St., Houston

The Wabi Sabi House in Boulevard Oaks has sold, reports developer Carol Barden. And she says the buyer found his new home . . . by reading Swamplot.

The buyer apparently came across the Wabi Sabi while reading stories on this site about another Barden property: yes, that lonely Modern townhome on Stanford St. in Montrose designed by Francois de Menil that Barden was still trying to unload. Swamplot’s last report noticed that once-a-million dollar townhouse being offered for $749,000. Barden tells us that the Menil townhouse is now under contract. She won’t reveal any pricing details, but says that she “didn’t discount the price again.”

Photo of Wabi Sabi House: Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen