Comment of the Day: How To Select a Home, in a City with No Zoning

COMMENT OF THE DAY: HOW TO SELECT A HOME, IN A CITY WITH NO ZONING “. . . I had specific criteria I tried to meet when I bought my house knowing that zoning is what it is in Houston. Made sure it was at least 3 blocks from any major street to avoid traffic and spillover parking from possible future commercial/residential development, within 1 block from a city park (less likelihood a park will turn into something I don’t like), within a block or two from a school (the city does restrict what can be built next to a school, so by default I am protecting myself from strip clubs and bars… and I guess landfills), I bought on a block that was a mix of new builds and old houses to minimize the risk of the whole block being torn down to build something new (which is a risk if you buy on a street of all old houses). I didn’t plan for crack houses being built because I don’t think those can be permitted with the city. I plan on staying in my house less than 10 years, so 20 years from now where I bought may be different. Was I able to meet all my criteria? No, but I came close enough that I was okay with it. Do I still run a risk of something being built, you bet, but I hopefully stacked the odds in my favor. . . .” [P-dawg, commenting on Jury Tells Ashby Highrise Developers To Pay Neighbors $1,661,993.62]

12 Comment

  • All of these smug people who come on here talking about all the amazingly intricate precautions they were smart enough to take to ensure they would never end up in the position of the “NIMBY” Ashby homeowners are… well… full of it. I don’t believe they took the precautions they say they took. And I don’t believe the precautions would even work. And, I don’t believe that, assuming they could afford it, they wouldn’t fight to protect their home from this sort of development going in next to their house.

  • @ mel – along with buying in the middle of the neighborhood, I also feed Jobu rum and cigars to keep the McMansions away.

  • 1. Block from school: The city has been on a selling spree with school property. Law Enforcement HS almost sold to a developer to do a huge mixed use development.
    2. Restrictions around schools: Those are mere ordinances that can be changed or repealed with a simple majority vote of City council.
    3. Mix of new builds: Trammell Crow bought out 4 new high end town homes on Yale St. on a mix of new and old houses on Allston. Take a look at the housing stock around the Hines development on San Felipe and the tower going up on Caroline. It doesn’t take an entire block to build a high rise.
    4. Crack houses: Permitting isn’t as hard as you think. The parking ordinance only requires 3 spaces per crackhead.
    5. Less than 10 years: That is great to know that Houston real estate is only good for a transient population who will get out of dodge before some developer wrecks their neighborhood.

  • I had the exact same criteria… and I ended up moving to a house in Alvin. Damn it!

  • Full of it? This exactly the stuff I was thinking about when I bought a home in deed-restricted Norhill instead of some other larger houses in the Heights. And why I was a supporter of the historic district rules, which added more teeth to it all. What’s happening with the Ashby highrise is a disaster because it replaces clear, known land use rules with spot zoning fought in the courts. That’s uncertainty for everyone – homeowners and developers alike – and markets hate uncertainty.

    This is why land use rules are a good thing. You get a balance between interests determined through a democratic pricess, and when you lay your money down you have a better (though always imperfect, everywhere) idea of what the future holds.

  • Mel, since you are questioning the validity of my comment…… won’t give out the exact address of my house, but it is a bungalow near Snover and Dickson Street. Like I said though, it didn’t meet all my criteria. Bayou Park Apartments will eventually get torn down, so maybe I’ll have my own highrise to look forward to. Good job to Old School for almost guessing the location without even trying. I was ultimately limited by the fact I can’t afford a better location to live. Actually Mollusk sums everything up nicely with just one precaution for buying in Houston….. pick a house in the middle of the neighborhood. It will cost more, but there is a better chance you’ll be happy in the long run.

  • @mel,

    No one says we have to believe the comments that are posted here. And, no, I didn’t believe that drivel, either.

  • @P-dawg: Do not dismiss the importance of giving Jobu rum and cigars. Jobu makes bats not scared.

  • My real estate agent told me to think about many of these things when I bought. I took her advice. Do people really not think about the future of the area they are buying in? Not smart.

  • I like your Calculus—very wise indeed

  • Deed restrictions were the most important thing to me. As long as they are enforced, they can go a long way to protecting your housing investment. Are the single family bungalows in my hood getting torn down? Yes, but they are replaced with one new home per lot typically selling north of a million dollars. Subdivision of the lot is not allowed in our deed restrictions. Is this ideal for me? No, I’d rather see the beautiful craftsman bungalows stick around, but it can’t be bad for my investment.

  • Westmoreland Subdivision of Montrose is the best (in my biased opinion)