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Old 01-14-2008, 08:51 PM
4 posts, read 20,260 times
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My husband and I are planning to move to Houston over the summer. We are researching neighborhoods. The Champion Forest/Memorial Northwest/Windrose homes seem too good to be true - huge, beautiful homes for a steal! What's the catch??
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Old 01-14-2008, 10:19 PM
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That's just Houston prices in the 'burbs. The schools are excellent, crime is low. The houses are not particularly well built or architecturally interesting, but they offer the lifestyle that people move to the burbs for. Good schools, low crime, well-maintained neighborhoods, etc.

One thing is the older homes in MNW & Champion Forest (by older I mean 70's vintage) tend to have 8' ceilings and less open floor plans. There are newer houses in these areas, Champion Forest is still building out, but anyway the older ones tend to be better deals on a price per foot basis than the newer ones with the higher ceilings and more open plans. The really obnoxiously large ones in Memorial Northwest are very close together. You have 6000 sq ft houses on 3' lot lines so these McMansion monsters are literally only 6' apart in some cases.

Personally I think the houses in Champion Forest are "finished out" better as a general rule than MNW. I am really not familiar enough with Windrose to comment.

I am a city person and prefer more distinctive architecture, so the area doesn't appeal to me, however, I have a number of family members that live in MNW and it is a good neighborhood with a strong HOA and a lot of house for the money. To me the shortcomings are the obvious things (houses too close together, too boring architecturally, whatever), I don't think there are any dark latent problems with the area or anything like that. If you like what you see going out there, go for it. The newer neighborhoods going up around it, (the Falls, Champions-something-or-another over behind the HEB, Gleanloch Farms, are all generally more expensive than MNW and a good portion of CF, so that always helps. There are not a lot of apartments in the area either, which is always a good thing.
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Old 01-15-2008, 06:21 AM
Location: Clear Lake
7,996 posts, read 22,750,166 times
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Originally Posted by itseemstome View Post
My husband and I are planning to move to Houston over the summer. We are researching neighborhoods. The Champion Forest/Memorial Northwest/Windrose homes seem too good to be true - huge, beautiful homes for a steal! What's the catch??


-High property taxes (about 2.75-3.75% of home value annually)
-High insurance (about 1% of home value annually)
-New shingling needed every 15 yrs due to intense Houston sun & rain
-Foundation integrity compromised due to Houston 'fault creep'
-Possibly high energy bills but maybe not, depending on home integrity, HVAC systems and personal/family habits
-Appreciation rates that barely keep up with inflation when the market is ''good''

In other words, a great place to stay put for years.
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Old 01-15-2008, 06:55 AM
Location: Buda, Texas
796 posts, read 2,955,668 times
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This is a great area, there are a few people on these boards who live in this area including me. The schools are good, the neighborhoods are nice. We have the Vintage shops coming up, parks, library, all kinds of restaraunts. Champion Forest and Memorial Northwest are very nice neighborhoods, older homes with larger lots but in competition with new home builders.
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Old 01-15-2008, 07:01 AM
Location: Houston
407 posts, read 1,367,829 times
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I live in the area (Lakewood Forest) and Champions is a very nice area. The "catch" is the homes were build in the 70's and there are many new subdivisions all around. Many buyers will not even consider a re-sell home. It's possible to get a large home on a large lot (mine is 2/3 of an acre) for much less than a new home. Remodeled and updated these homes are well worth it.
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Old 01-15-2008, 08:25 AM
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Not only do Houston suburbs have good prices, but for whatever reason, this area is just about one of the best bargains of any suburb in Houston. There are many great neighborhoods in the area, not just the ones that you mentioned.

Champion Forest homes will probably be better built than Memorial Northwest homes (and a little more expensive). Windrose (and Gleanloch) have similarly newer homes, both cheaper tract homes as well as high end custom homes.

Champions proper is older, but more "refined" than the other neighborhoods because of the Pro level golf course.

After 30 years of building in this area, they are finally running out of land to put homes, so there is actually less and less quality new construction in the area.

Basically, for custom homes, there is The Falls, Champion Woods, a little bit of Windrose, and for the nicer tract homes, there isn't much left anymore either.

If you live in one of the older neigborhoods (or at least a neigborhood that ties into an older MUD district) your taxes will be lower.

Older homes in the area also tend to have lower hcad appraisals despite what the true market value is.

In my opinion, in this area, the newer custom homes, despite being expensive, are still a bargain due to low margins on cost for the builders in this area (heck, go 10-15 minutes North to the Woodlands, similar high end custom homes sell for 100-150K more) or finding an older home that has had some work done on it already (remodeled kitchen, master bath, etc). Those are the two best deals in the area.
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Old 01-15-2008, 09:11 AM
1,221 posts, read 5,115,821 times
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Agree with what Mac said above.

They don't build them like this anymore, if they did you would pay a large premium for the larger lots and mature trees. Memorial NW is a great neighborhood and a great buy - same with the other established neighborhoods in that area. Back in the 1970's and 1980's neighborhoods like these were built by local custom-home builders, not tract homes like you see all over today. So there's more variety.

Champions was the first neighborhood out here when Jack Burke established Champions Golf Club. I drove through there the other day and was really impressed by the variety of homes in that neighborhood. No two are alike. All well maintained with lots of teardown/new construction.

The only real new homebuilding going on in that part of 77379 zoned to Klein High School are a few high-end developments like Champion Woods, Vintage Lakes, Lakes of Sterling Gate and the Falls at Champion Forest filling in the last few spots.

Last edited by Mr. Football; 01-15-2008 at 09:29 AM..
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Old 01-16-2008, 08:28 PM
Location: Beautiful New England
2,412 posts, read 5,516,735 times
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Having lived in Houston and thus being familiar with the area, I would point out that this is the other side of the "Houston housing is a good value" coin. Yes, housing in many parts of Houston is cheap and one can buy a big house relatively inexpensively. But the opportunity for real housing asset appreciation is very limited in many areas. Thus, folks who bought nice houses in MNW now have a house that they could barely sell for what they paid for it. This is an acute problem in lots and lots of Houston 'burbs.

OTOH, I bought my (more expensive on a price per foot basis) house in the Boston burbs and though the market has tanked recently, it still has been an excellent investment. My brother, who's still in Houston, has seen ZERO real appreciation in his house. Yes, his house is bigger and newer. But my wife and I will come out much better in the long run on our house here in New England. So which is the better deal? The bigger, newer house that financially underperforms? Or the smaller, older home that provides a solid return on investment?
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Old 01-16-2008, 10:36 PM
1,290 posts, read 4,260,128 times
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I disagree with the lack of appreciation observation. While that might be the case in some neighborhoods like Memorial Northwest, other neighborhoods have seen a big rise in appreciation. A good example would be the Estates of Windrush within Champion Forest. It was built out from about 1992 until about 1998. Many of the homes in there originally sold for around 299-350 and now fetch well into the 500/600s.

I think there is appreciation to be had in the upper level custom home market in the suburbs. Margins are pretty thin over cost on many of those homes that the prices can't help but rise due to the costs associated with building out a new custom home.

The big point is I guess that lack of high appreciation leads to affordability. Many people that otherwise would be house poor can easily afford a family friendly home, and/or many people that would be paying for smaller places can afford much nicer and refined homes.

I guess it comes down to the fact that we can't make blanket statements on whether an area will appreciate or not. Its really going to be determined by individual neighborhoods and the quality of the build. I agree that many tract home neighborhoods have nice/new affordable housing, you are not going to see large appreciation, but I do believe that if you go a little higher to the custom segment of the market, there is always room for appreciation.

Another reason I think you'll see some appreciation in this particular area over the next 10 years or so is due to the supply/demand curve. The Spring/Klein/CHampions area still sees good growth, however, the most desirable areas are just flat running out of land. The land available is either too expensive or is unbuildable due to flood plains, etc. It is going to hit a point to where new construction in the area will not be able to keep up with demand, and the older homes will appreciatee.
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Old 01-17-2008, 08:13 AM
Location: Beautiful New England
2,412 posts, read 5,516,735 times
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Originally Posted by Supermac34 View Post
It was built out from about 1992 until about 1998. Many of the homes in there originally sold for around 299-350 and now fetch well into the 500/600s.
Your data prove my point. A $350K house in 1992 that is worth $500K in 2006 has seen ZERO real appreciation (i.e. above the rate of inflation) Check out this inflation calculator: The Inflation Calculator You may think it's appreciation, but in fact it's just keeping up with the rate of inflation. And the data prove it.

OTOH, a 1992 $350K house in the Boston area would be worth well over $1 million today (perhaps upwards toward $2 million if its in an especially desirable area), even after the real estate market bust. I keep a very close eye on both real estate markets. The ONLY place in Houston that has seen Boston-like appreciation in value is zip code 77005 (i.e. West U/Rice U. area). But all the braggadocio about affordable Houston housing is about the big tract developments in the Houston hinterlands where real appreciation in value is usually (not always, but USUALLY) very limited and selling can be a real challenge, even in a good real estate market.

Boston's real estate market has a higher barrier to entry (i.e. higher cost) but it is a much better value in the long run. My brother's two story marble entry hall in the Houston 'burbs may have more flash than my Boston 'burbs single story wood floor entry hall, but my house is in a much, much better financial position than his. You tell me who got the better deal...

Last edited by professorsenator; 01-17-2008 at 08:22 AM..
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