Comment of the Day: West University Homes for Sale

COMMENT OF THE DAY: WEST UNIVERSITY HOMES FOR SALE “You can see the collapse happening in West U. Noticed what I thought were an unusually high number of for sale/for rent signs there in late January, so started keeping an eye on the number of listings. (There’s an easy link on the site and then you can click on a neighborhood.) At the beginning of Feb. there were 297 residences listed. It has climbed more or less steadily over the past 6 weeks and stood at 353 today. A drive down Edloe from Westpark towards Holcombe is almost scary. There is a combination of developers finishing the last of the giant McMansions for this cycle and likely reseting of adjustable rate mortgages and job losses. There will probably be a cascading effect as very expensive places that can’t be sold get reduced and put pressure on prices of smaller places that have to be cut in turn. . . .” [MikeRG, commenting on Those Wet and Wild Houston Mortgages: 18 Percent Now Underwater, 7 Percent More Still Paddling for Air]

25 Comment

  • There may be a factor you have to add to your equation. March begins the “season” for selling homes. So even in the best of times, you will see a significant increase in listed homes in March and April for Spring.

  • I live in West U. in a $2m+ home. I have no mortgage. I do not know any neighbors who have a mortgage. You can check this by looking at the Harris County appraisal site and clicking through to the tax bill link and look where it will say “mortgage” and you will see many “no”.

    Maybe in the poor sections (chimney, west of auden, east of wake forest, etc.) you will see some but not many people rely on debt to buy in W.U.

  • I’ve noticed the same thing in the memorial area in the last month or so. Very few ‘option pendings’ (3 or 4) sprinkled amongst the $1 million and above (200) listings . A few ‘pending continue to show’ which means they accepted a contingency offer, but I don’t consider that a sale. My personal favorite is 150 Quail creek, a 7,230 sf behemoth on a 40,000 sq. ft. lot that went pending in the last couple of days for 1.2 mil, or $165/sf. Talk about a comp killer. The next listing below it for 1.2 mil. is 11910 Heritage Ln, a quaint 1,864 sf on a 38,000 sq. ft. lot for the same price, equating to $643/sf, with no pool in the backyard. One could argue that these are both ‘lot value’ only, but the builder’s are tapped out and the lot value sales have severely diminished in the last few months. People are going to start purchasing these ‘tear-down’ houses to live in (I’m guessing hence the quick pending on quail road while heritage sits). With the tightness in the jumbo loan market, I think it is going to be a tough year for both West U and Memorial. Seasonal adjustments for inventory are not going make much of a difference this year.

  • Come on, people.

    Gus, why even highlight such a silly comment. There’s plenty of hard data floating around re West U home prices. The Commenter offers no real data to support his thesis. Listing stats don’t equal “collapse”. I’m not saying he’s right or wrong, just logically challenged. Swamplot readers deserve better.

    The fact that one’s tax bill says there’s no mortgagee or tax agent doesn’t not mean that there is not mortgage on one’s home. Many people have mortgages and don’t escrow taxes with their lender thus having this notation on their bill. There are plenty of mortgages in West U.

  • As a buyer’s agent, I calculate market conditions every week based on the amount of inventory that is available. Things have changed in West U, but this is the high season for new listings. We’ll have to see how it all looks in September. The high end is languishing city-wide, no doubt. Click here to see more:

  • If my tax bill does not include the notation “mortgage” can I use this as a reason to stop sending my checks to my failed financial institution every month? After all, if Harris County says I don’t have a mortgage who am I to argue?

  • Yeah, Spring is the season for listings, however, look at greenwood-king’s latest high end market report and it compares Jan-Jan prices. it is really raw data, (so not good by individual ‘hoods) but the -22% average price drop of ALL the high end ‘hoods is VERY telling

    “bozo”, i feel sorry for you as one of the 38% of households with no mortgage in america, but your neigbors have stretched to buy and builders have built based on no economic analysis first, and come June, your place will be worth much less, too.

    look at the swarm of 90% complete $1.5-$2.5mm places sitting there in WU waiting for the bank to take them back from the builder.

    west U is, in my opinion, the one neighborhood with the farthest to fall in Houston, based on high carrying costs (taxes) and based on the garages spilling out kayak’s, lawn furniture, bikes, mopeds, and “junk.”

    half of WU has been living off of cash out refis. it is the single most vulnerable high end neighborhood in houston.

  • JPSivco I think you are really offbase here. West U has great demand and limited supply and for years has been the safest real estate bet one could make in Houston. I have represented buyers there for 12+ years and its proximity to TMC, Greenway and downtown gives it an A+ location. Last year, Forbes ranked it as one of the best real estate investments in the US:

    It’ll be back.

  • Best “blue-chip” real estate investment which is a very different thing. The Forbes methodology required that a neighborhood had to already be above median price in 1990 then ranked them on appreciation after that. Hence the inclusion of neighborhoods such as West U, the Upper East Side in NY and Pacific Palisades in LA. The difference between those other two and West U is that much more of the high end construction in West Us is stuff that has been built in the last handful of years. That’s where the additional instability is built in. Having said that West U is pretty much guaranteed to always be a top tier hood in terms of pricing.

  • I remember when West U was a shabby neighborhood (70s), but I think it is solidly a good bet. My thinking is once a neighborhood fully transitions from shabby to chic (didn’t realize I was going to use such a lame descriptive) it pretty much stays there. Where there is real danger is where a neighborhood has started trying to transition but has only done so let’s say 50%. In an economic downturn, it is easier for it to slide backward into decay and crime than to continue improving. Washington Avenue and West End could be some of those, but hopefully not.

  • West U was a shabby hood in the 70s. Lady you are nuckin futs. Obviously your big ass is a r/e agent with no smarts @ all.

    He shoots: he scores!

  • “wannabeapornstar” but really “manwithadanglingparticiple” aka Harry Dong and Tom Byron: you must be related to Medusa.

  • Can’t comment on West U in the 70’s but I tell you what I did manage to glean from Wikipedia.
    1. Approximately 50% of the homes in West U were torn down and rebuilt in between 1987 and 2002.
    2. You can smoke in the bar in West U. Apparently there is only one.
    3. West U is 92.7% caucasian. Now that’s what I call diversity.

  • HD doesn’t know anything about it, he is just being a sourpuss because he was twice put down by girls yesterday. After this post, I will ignore him and not respond. Maybe he will go back to his porn sites.

  • From Wikipedia: “Almost all streets in West University Place are allusions to universities, colleges, and poets throughout the United States and the world.”

    One of them is named after my grandfather.

  • West U is a fine neighborhood. Not many messicans liven there. Unlike, Los Heights.
    I’m bettin your granpappy didn’t like the beans as well. Everyone knows there aint none on the south side of I-10(77024)unless they’re laborers.

  • Judy T. 12 years of real estate experience is tough to argue against, but you are living in the past. Certainly it has been a great neigborhood for price appreciation, and i am not commenting on its great quality of life, but you cant argue with facts. high end home prices in houston are falling. and falling fast.

    it is raw data, so you cant look at the individual neighborhoods since they are based on only 1 or 2 sales (not like last year!), but look at the average: -22% compared to the same month last year on 70 sales throughout the highest quality niegborhoods in town. WU IS great but not sprinkled with MAGIC DUST! also, look at the volumes…..

    0 homes sold in River Oaks
    0 homes sold in Southhampton
    4 homes sold in West U

    The facts speak loudly here.THOSE kind of volume stats are simply unprecedented. a good “buyers agent” would tell clients to wait!!

  • JUDY!!
    You are making our argument for us!!

    Forbes says West U prices are up 194% since 1990!!! Doctor/Lawyer/Banker/Profesional incomes aren’t up 194% since 1990 and sure wont be after this year!

    what happened to the realtor’s constant crowing “but we havent had the run up here in Houston, but prices havent gone up like California or New York!! Houston is Different!” turns out is isnt, is it??

    something has to give here. nobody would buy in ANY of these other places cited in the Forbes “Puff Piece” around the entire country at anything more than a significant discount!!!

  • JUDY! NO! NO! NO! You HAVE to be Joking!!!

    Your own inventory analysis page has an ELEVEN MONTH SUPPLY for West U and “Slightly Soft” for the market condition!!

    WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I applaud the data collection effort but WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Yes JPSivco my chart shows that things are now trending more in favor of buyers in West U. The ‘slightly soft’ weighted average market condition is due to the fact that so much of the inventory there is high-end and those properties are not selling as they did in the past. But the builders are not building now (no financing) so there won’t be large numbers of new homes coming on the market this year. West U will be OK. Things will not sell for 98% of list as they have in the past but at a somewhat lower ratio.

  • JPSivco: You are incorrect. The mean income of the top 5% has actually increased 223% since 1990 through 2006.

    Source is census data:

    Numbers correlate nicely with the price increases in W.U. per Forbes.

    Facts people, facts please!

  • Two things in favor of a soft landing for West U:

    1) Have you seen how much construction is going on in the Med Ctr? Lots of new doctors, many of whom will want to live close.
    2) If things do get bad in Houston with big increases in unemployment and crime, an inner loop location with its own police force will be even more of a draw.

  • Parts of West U were very shabby in the ’70s (I lived there). Most of the residents were lower middle class elderly people living on social security, and many of the homes were not kept up. Some of the streets didn’t even have curbs. We even had some prostitution and a drug dealer living down the street from us!

    In the end, location saved West U, as it’s a 15 minute (or less) drive to any of the city’s major destinations. This will continue to keep the area desirable in the future, but home prices will dip in West U. I feel that they’re over-inflated, and there is a lot of stuff on the market right now. (no real facts to back this up, just observation & personal opinion.)

  • bozo, i stand corrected! great number slinging!

  • Howard Hughes, you are right. I recall friends buying homes in West U and fixing them up just like they have been in the Height for the past decade or two. Somewhere around mid to late 80s those homes starting coming down for the newbuilds.

    I was in Austin in the mid 80s when the real estate market there tanked. I remember saying that if I had money I would be buying up all kinds of houses for investment. I am saying the same about just about anywhere now. Once this downturn turns around, you could be sitting pretty on some good properties.