Gas Prices Swaying Home Buyers

Houston is a city of cars. If you’re outside the downtown Metro Rail service area, the city is simply too sprawling (and for six months out of the year, too hot) to use public transportation if you can afford not to. There are 2.46 million commuters in Houston, and 91% of these people use their own car.

That’s a lot of gas! And these days, a lot of gas means a lot of money. So what does this mean in terms of real estate?

According to a Coldwell Banker survey of real estate professionals, “75 percent said that the recent spike in gas prices has influenced their clients’ decisions on where to live, and 93 percent said if gas prices continue to rise, more home buyers will choose to live somewhere that allows for a closer commute to their work.”

In Houston, people have long been used to driving long distances to work. People make daily commutes from the suburbs to downtown, from midtown to the Heights, from Upper Kirby to the Museum District. Driving, traffic, and quite a bit of time and money spent at the pump is normal for Houston.

However, with so many options available in terms of housing and with the environmental movement finally reaching this Southern city, Houston residents are absolutely taking transportation costs into account as they choose new places to live. It’s estimated that people move, on average, 11 to 16 times in their life. The fabric of this city is constantly changing, and as people commit to ever-more-valuable jobs, they may choose their homes accordingly.

Alicia, a 25-year-old new Houstonite who works in marketing, said, “I only looked for apartments near work. Houston is so cheap relative to all the other major cities; why would I negate my savings by paying a ton of extra money for gas?” Jeremiah, a young architect who lives and works in the Heights, said, “I just sold my car and am finding that it’s easy to just keep going with a bike.”

Coldwell Bankers’ survey continues: “Drive time and racking up miles en-route to the office caused 89 percent to say buyers look for homes closer to work. Forty-five (45) percent are seeing buyers choose homes closer to shops and services as a result of increasing gas prices.”

There are other effects as well. 77% of real estate agents surveyed said that more buyers are interested in home offices. 56% said that buyers today are more interested in urban living than they were five years ago, and 91% of those respondents said that gas prices are one of their buyers’ main reason for wanting to do this.

Will we see this trend manifest in Houston in the coming years? Will young families stay near the city center rather than moving out to the suburbs to buy a single-family home? There are many reasons–environmental, social, and now, economic–to consider an apartment or condo residence close to the place you work. The lifestyle generally offers more amenities and advantages such as being closer to a variety of activities as well as public transportation.

If you’re looking to minimize your gas consumption and live closer to where you work, check out the listings at CondoDomain. There are condos near Hermann Park, in Midtown, and on Allen Parkway–and so much more!

(Photo from Flickr)

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