On the move: Allure of the suburbs draws Houston newcomers
The Houston area boasts of some of the most celebrated master-planned communities and suburbs in the country.
Well known for their abundant amenities and lush green spaces, it is no wonder that so many newcomers flock to areas, such as The Woodlands, Kingwood, Katy, Sugar Land, and League City, just to name a few.
Houston suburbs also offer drivable access to the city, while offering housing options that are relatively more affordable than many inner-city neighborhoods.
Kelty Ferguson, a Realtor with Martha Turner Sotheby's International Realty, said that many of her relocation clients choose suburban living for a variety reasons.
"People want more home for less money, and the homes in the suburbs tend to be larger, with bigger backyards, and offer a little bit more privacy," Ferguson said. "A lot of people also want the top-rated schools for their children, and many of the suburbs have really good schools. The suburbs also have great amenities, like parks, trails and pools."
She added that many of her clients also choose suburban living because it is more familiar to them, especially if they are used to living in a smaller city, and prefer to stay away from the hustle and bustle of big city life.
"The buyers who want to replicate their lifestyle are usually those with families. They tend to move to the suburbs to get that same community spirit type of environment, where they have the accessibility to the big city, yet they still have the small-town vibe. There is also a slower pace in the suburbs, and people like the opportunities to get involved with their community," said Ferguson.
She said that most people who want to live in the suburbs have already made that decision before they come to Houston. The more difficult decision is often in determining which one.
Ferguson specializes in the northeast areas of Houston, such as Kingwood and Humble, but said that she goes in all directions for her clients, especially those who are relocating, because they often want to see several areas before narrowing their focus.
Ferguson said that provides a lot of information to her relocation clients before they arrive in Houston for their home finding trip. She said that this helps them to get a better feel for the different communities, so that they can zero in on the ones that interest them. But, she said things often change once they get here and see the different areas in person.
"Sometimes my relocation clients fly into Houston, thinking that they want to be in League City, but they actually end up preferring the trees in Kingwood. So, many people might not know where they really want to be until they get here, and we are able to go out and look at the different areas together," Ferguson said.
Chris Domangue, who is a Realtor with Coldwell Banker United, Realtors, said that while affordability, strong schools and great amenities are generally the top reasons that many of his relocation clients are attracted to the suburbs, that it often comes down to "feel" when choosing one community over another.
He said that this is not just important for the families who want to move to the suburbs, but also for the other segments of the population that are drawn there today.
"Millennials are probably the largest segment of the population that is moving," Domangue said. "They tend to want new construction, and they want energy-efficient, green homes. The suburbs certainly allow them to have that, as opposed to buying something in the city that is older or unattainable for their income level."
Additionally, he said that the suburbs are a big draw for many of his clients who are of retirement age, and prefer the slower pace of suburban life.
He said that the suburbs also appeal to many people who move here from other countries, because they are often able to have much more space than they had back home.
"Many people move here from really populated cities, like Shanghai or Mexico City, and they really like being able to live farther out, and having a little bit of elbow room," Domangue said.
He also said that since many relocation home buyers might only be here for a relatively short period of time, that he always addresses the potential for resale when showing areas and properties to his clients.
"I never just sell a person a home, I always talk about resale. So, I tend to educate my clients on factors like the value of buying in a good school district, whether they have kids or not, because when making a purchase, that is going to elevate the value of their home," Domangue said.
Michelle Sandlin is an award-winning writer, journalist and global mobility industry expert. Her work is frequently featured in Worldwide ERC's Mobility magazine, and in various business and industry related publications and corporate blogs. Follow her on Facebook: www.facebook.com/TheMichelleSandlin and on Twitter: @MichelleSandlin. Also visit "On the Move" at blog.chron.com/onthemove.