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Houston housing becoming increasingly unaffordable, realtors' association says

The median home price in the Houston area increased by $50,000 in one year.

HOUSTON — New data from the Houston Association of Realtors shows the price of local housing is now less affordable than it was one year ago, for both homeowners and home renters.

The median home price in the Houston area is up to $357,000, which is $50,000 higher than it was one year ago.

Last year, 53 percent of Houston families made enough money to buy a median-priced Houston-area home.

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But that percentage is even lower now.

Only 39 percent can afford the same home today.

One year ago, the minimum qualifying household income to buy a median-priced Houston-area home was $64,000.

Today, a family would need to make $89,000 to buy the same home.

“I don’t think that surprised anybody,” said HAR chair Jennifer Wauhob. “I can’t think of anything now that’s more affordable today than it was a year ago.”

Wauhob says like everything else, the prices of homes has risen too.

“Wages just haven’t been able to keep up so people are just really feeling the squeeze across the board,” Wauhob said.

That goes for single-family home renters, too.

The median monthly lease price for a house one year ago was about $1,800.

It's a little more than $2,000 now.

The most expensive place to rent a home is in West University, where the median price is more than $5,800 per month.

Only eight percent of Harris County households make enough money to afford the rent there.

If landlords are raising the rent this year, Wahoub suggests looking into buying a home.

“I would recommend you reach out to your realtor, whatever you’re paying in rent that could be a monthly mortgage payment,” Wauhob said.

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Dr. Stephen Sherman, Ph.D. is a researcher at Rice University who studies housing.

“Well, it’s not so simple,” Dr. Sherman said. “Even if someone, I’m a researcher, I work at Rice. I don’t have the necessary down payment or credit score to buy a home in Houston and my family household income exceeds the median.”

Dr. Sherman says Houston homes are now only affordable to the few.

“You think of homeownership as a path to prosperity in this county, but within Harris County, it’s increasingly a privilege for the already prosperous,” Dr Sherman said.

He says the bulk of Harris County’s housing stock is composed of single-family homes.

He says there’s been a big increase in single-family rental stock.

“You’re also finding in the county outskirts built-to-rent subdivisions, which would have been unthinkable 10 years ago,” Dr. Sherman said.  “Houston, over the past 40 years has billed itself as an affordable place to live. And within the last 10, that has become no longer."

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