Buying and selling is only half the story when it comes to real estate. Understanding the context of a community can be the difference between a successful investment and a tremendous loss. Particularly in Houston, where neighborhoods rely on protections like minimum lot size and minimum building line, investors should consider neighborhood character in the purchase, value, and subsequent sale of any property.
Recently a would-be seller found themselves in the cross-hairs of a local neighborhood fighting to preserve its character. The civic association has been in the midst of a block by block campaign to safeguard the neighborhood from the division of lots to develop town homes. Despite living in the neighborhood and being aware of the dynamics, the owner submitted an application to subdivide the lot. While the purpose of this is to allegedly sell the garage apartment in the back separate from the home in front, rather than develop town homes, the neighborhood will protest based on precedent.
A divided lot in a single-family neighborhood opens the door for future investors or developers to usher in town homes. This or any other profit-driven interpretation of a new normal for an established area is costly and counterproductive.
Community standards should inform investor, developer and owner intent. Otherwise loss of time and resources is all but guaranteed. Especially in neighborhoods with strong civic engagement.
How to check for neighborhood protections
- City of Houston Planning and Development Department
- MyCity GIS portal
- Civic association
Profitable alternatives to subdivision
- Missing middle – Duplex, Triplex
- Affordable homes using subsidy funding
How to find comps
- Contact area expert with specialized finance experience
- Identify similar development in 2 – 3 block radius