For nearly two years the Houston housing market has been booming. Home inventories are at all-time lows and the city set a record in July for total houses sold and total value of homes sold. It is no surprise then that rental costs have risen right along with home values. That includes rent houses, a market that has exploded with Houston's growth, particularly among young professionals not ready to settle into a home yet. But, with costs soaring in some of Houston's most desirable neighborhoods, it might be cheaper to buy.
We took a look at eight popular Houston neighborhoods where there were more than 15 current rental properties (that quickly excluded places like Midtown, Upper Kirby and Garden Oaks) that were not exclusively town homes (and not duplexes -- these are whole single-family dwellings), which tend to vary pretty widely in price range (this excluded the entire Galleria area, which is dotted with town homes and homes that rented for as much as $17,000!). What we found were that prices were remarkably high for rent especially considering these are single family homes, not duplexes, that don't include bills or yard maintenance -- nearly all the costs of a typical home, but without the ownership.
To get our numbers, we used Zillow's map tool and approximated general areas inside Houston's city limits with more than 10 single-family rental properties the week of August 15. We made a range from low to high for rental properties in that general area, also providing an approximate median cost for each rental. It is far from scientific, but gives a good idea of the average range of rent for properties in these neighborhoods.
Oak Forest Price Range: $1,500-$3,000 Median: $1,750
One of the fastest selling neighborhoods in Houston is also its largest. The near north side neighborhood is massive and constantly bustling with construction crews remodeling, building and demolishing homes. But it is also a hot area for rental homes, though it is still on the lower end of the spectrum when it comes to living near town.
Spring Branch Price Range: $2,000-$5,000 Median: $2,000
As renters continue to look for space close to town, this diverse and rather sprawling area along Interstate 10 is booming, as are home rental prices with some going well over $4,000 per month.
Houston Heights Price Range: $1,500-$3,500 Median: $2,500
Perhaps the most popular place for young professionals who still want a yard, the Heights has exploded in the last 20 years and is now one of the most sought after neighborhoods for buyers and renters alike. While the range here is narrower than in some hoods, owing to the generally modest size of homes available, it continues to be a competitive area for anyone wanting to call it home.
Timbergrove Price Range: $2,000-$4,000 Median: $2,600
The Heights' smaller, younger neighbor has some remarkably pricey rental properties with half a dozen eclipsing $3k per month. The larger lot size and moderately bigger homes probably account for the difference between it and the Heights and makes a good alternative for those trying to get an 008 zip code. Montrose Price Range: $1,500-$6,000 Median: $3,000
For years the Montrose area has been a hotbed for rentals. It has some of the most unique and quirky duplexes, garage apartments and small complexes next door to million-dollar homes. It also has an extremely competitive rental market with a very wide price range. And despite having a decent number rental properties under $2,500 per month, the larger number over $4,000 pulls the median price upward.
Washington Avenue/Sixth Ward Price Range: $2,000-$7,000 Median: $3,250
The area between Memorial Park and downtown has both its detractors and those who love the mix of industrial warehouses, douchey bars and tiny neighborhood streets. Its proximity to downtown makes it a particularly popular area for renters, but with at least one property topping out at over $7,000 and plenty in the $3,000 to $4,000 range, it will cost you.
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West University/Rice Price Range: $2,000-$6,000 Median: $3,500
The number of rental properties in West U and surrounding neighborhoods has been slowly dwindling as property values have skyrocketed and tear-downs have become more commonplace. But there are still a good number of homes for rent, no doubt ideal for students or those who work in the Medical Center. Expect to pay over $3,000 if you want to rent a house here.
Energy Corridor/Memorial Price Range: $2,000-$6,000 Median: $3,800
Admittedly, this at first took us by surprise until we began to think about all the oil companies that have moved into the area and are certainly looking for good temporary housing for employees here for short stints. With some many expensive homes in the area, it's no wonder that a large portion of the rentals exceed $4,000 per month.