Comment of the Day: Scrapping It All — or not — in Westbury

COMMENT OF THE DAY: SCRAPPING IT ALL — OR NOT — IN WESTBURY “So I have a home in Westbury that I purchased in the $190 range. It’s ok shape but I am living in another home inside the loop. As I am interested in a larger home and can’t find an affordable lot inside the loop, I am considering demoing my Westbury home and rebuilding on that lot. Does anyone have an opinion on this? I am only aware of one other Westbury new build from 2006. I love the neighborhood, I just need more space. Another option I am considering is building a second story to the existing home. Thoughts?” [Westbury Owner, commenting on A Londoners’ Guide to the Westbury Land Rush]

18 Comment

  • With cash in hand you can do anything you want, but if you must get a loan, you need to thing about this the other way… what’s financeable? Then forget about second story addition, and building bigger than the surroundings will always be problematic for comps and appraisals.

  • I own a home in Willowbrook, which is located on the east side of Post Oak between Willowbend and Post Oak Manor. There are several new builds in Willowbend, Willowbrook, and Post Oak Manor, and many more to the north in Willow Meadows. That being said, more homes currently seem to be in the process of major renovations rather than demolition. If it were me, I would sell your current Westbury house for 190K, and pick up a vacant lot or tear-down for closer to 100K and build on that lot.

  • Thanks commonsense, the comps would definitely be an issue, and one I keep rolling around in my head. JP – great advice. I looked on HAR for a willowbrook lot and found that there are tear downs in the $100k range and while they are few and far between – that is a terrific option. I keep thinking that I want to use that equity in my Westbury home and what better way to use it than to sell it and re-invest. I think my biggest deterrent to building there is only that the home I bought is too pricey to be used as a lot. I would consider a less expensive Westbury lot however, only because I happen to love the neighborhood.

  • If it’s size you want, and you could stomach leaving Westbury, you might head to Fondren Northfield. For the price of your little house in Westbury, you could get an updated 3,500 square foot 1970s contemporary. It’s only about 2 miles west of Westbury. Then there’s the Sharpstown Country Club Terrace neighborhood (houses a little smaller, but every bit as nice). Of course I understand the allure of Westbury. It’s what Bellaire was 20 years ago. And depending on where in Westbury you are, there are some really good Elementary and Middle schools. In fact, we looked there when we moved earlier this year, and loved it, but the houses that we could afford over there were all either too small for us, had something wrong with them, or both.
    Now, my question: I’ve talked to people who say Westbury High is starting to turn around. Any truth to that?

  • I lived in Willowbend from 1997 to 2002. It is a great neighborhood and is very close to the Med Center. We doubled our investment in that 5 years. Westbury just has not kept up with the desirability of Willowbend, or Willow Meadows,thus the reason for no new construction. I agree with the previous post, sell Westbury and build elsewhere. Check on the price increase trends for the neighborhood over the past 20 years to see which area has more potential. And stay away from Fondren as the crime rate over there is VERY high. Good luck.

  • Having grown up in Westbury, I know the houses are nice but you need to be aware that several sections near Willow Waterhole Bayou flooded more than once in the mid-70s. In fact, our house near West Belfort and Hillcroft had more than a foot of water in it. You might want to tear down and start over if you’re in one of those sections.

  • CL: Look again at Fondren. The crime rates have dropped significantly over the last 5 years, thanks to the efforts of the Management District and Super Neighborhoods.

  • Can anyone explain “Bellaire 20 years ago” to this young guy?

    This is purely anecdotal, but I know someone who lived just off Bellfort a mile west across Fondren; they moved to Cypress two years ago citing the neighborhood having gone completely downhill. I know full well that the slummiest and wealthiest areas often butt right up against each other, but was still surprised to hear so many rave reviews about Westbury.

  • If you are going to call Westbury your home for the foreseeable future, you may want to set aside some pure dollars and cents analysis in favor of whether you currently have a good block of neighbors versus the uncertainty of where you may end up. It would be terrible to go through all the trouble of selling, buying and building to end up on a block with the people who sit in their driveway all weekend drinking while they blast music and let their pit bulls run free.

  • Bellaire 20 years ago was still affordable to normal people. It was safe, the schools were getting better. It was a good place to raise a family if you didnt want to flee to the outer suburbs.
    The scoop on Brays Oaks (formerly Fondren Southwest) west of Westbury and Fondren Road is this: as I said before, the crime rate is way down. The multifamily and commercial areas are slummy, but getting better thanks to the Management District. The single family neighborhoods range from really nice with great deals for houses (Fondren Northfield; Braeburn Valley), to so-so/OK for the money (Fondren Southfield; Fondren Park). The public schools are the big liability here, and it’s reflected in the housing prices.

  • I’d say tear down and rebuild only if you NEVER plan to sell it.

    A few of the rebuilds in 77035 have gone to the edge of every lot line and then been listed for double what you’d spend on a traditional, redone ranch house, and they seldom move for their asking price. Some of the renos have been in the same boat. You don’t want to set yourself up to never recoup your investment.

    I defer to the other more knowing posters here what new builds do to the home values of the original or renovated homes. I’ve always assumed they inflate my taxes but I don’t know that to be fact.

  • Westbury Owner: We`ve got a renovated 3650sf home in Westbury. Getting ready to sell and retire to the country. Want to talk?

  • ASM: I’m not ready to buy yet but that’s the size I’m thinking of. Why not put your MLS number up here though? Also, do you have any additional information about the schools? I know the lower schools are good but haven’t heard good things about Westbury High. What do you know about that?

    ZAW – I live as far west (just past Hillcroft) as I can handle for now. My neighborhood is really and truly delightful. My neighbors are nice, educated people, the homes are mostly well kept, with the exception of a few homes that are owned by older folks in the neighborhood and the yards are in good shape. I feel comfortable walking my dog there. I didn’t know that the area you are talking about was being redeveloped but I’m glad that it is.

  • Westbury Owner: We haven’t listed the house yet – probably in the spring. We need to stay in Houston through the end of 2013. Elementary and middle schools are good. Our kids didn’t choose Westbury HS, but the youngest seriously looked at the GT program there, but that was 10+ years ago. Neighbors tell me Westbury HS is “improving.”

  • Rodrigo – a mile west of fondren is not Westbury… so it may have gone downhill, but it is a different neighborhood. Westbury is terrific.

    Marcy – they have done a lot of mitigation within even the last 5 years so flooding from the 1970s isn’t really a good indicator. The flood plains change, but they have current information available on it from tropical storm allison, 10 years ago.

  • ZAW – I checked out Braeburn valley. You were right, it’s a gorgeous neighborhood and the entry from Braeswood is clean and nice. Still looking at the others.

  • Now, my question: I’ve talked to people who say Westbury High is starting to turn around. Any truth to that?

    @ZAW: As the parent of a high school senior, let me personally attest to the fact that Westbury HS, or ‘Wastebury’ as it is known, is absolutely NO BETTER than before. I was able to transfer my son to Challenge Early College HS (in the HCC building) where teachers actually teach instead of spend their time refereeing the numerous and weekly student fights. I was also appalled at the intellectual level of many of his teachers….unbelievable. When my son was accepted at Challenge I practically kissed the ground in their parking lot, I was so grateful to have removed him from that toxic and dangerous environment. I don’t know WHO has told you that WHS is turning around but my personal experience does not support that at all. My son had many things stolen from his locker and backpack while there, including his bike. Even though these incidents were reported to the principal, no action or investigation ever took place. I had heard that same ‘improvement’ rumor and clinged hopefully to that belief until I realized that it was far from the truth. That’s my two cents.

  • …oops….I CLUNG hopefully to that belief…