College Station Housing Remains Affordable

By David Gwin, Community & Economic Development Director

Chances are you have heard of one of the many indices that identify median and average single family home values across the country. Many organizations publish such indexes using their unique methodology to calculate a respective value. These can come from a variety of sources ranging from national magazines, developers, commercial realty firms and realtor associations. College Station and the Brazos Valley are no exception to these indices. Such median and average values for the Brazos Valley have covered a broad spectrum, ranging from approximately $150,000 to $300,000.

Recently, Coldwell Banker Real Estate released its College Home Listing Report and identified the City of College Station as the 59th most affordable college market for a four-bedroom, two-bath single family home listed on their website over a period of six months in 2010. According to the report, the average listed price for a home in College Station that met its criteria was $219,445. This was well ahead of the University of Texas at Austin (90th) by more than $70,000. These values can provide an important benchmark to both buyers and sellers in our current economic market.

Although discrepancies exist as to when the actual breaking point occurred for what is now being called the Great Recession, the general consensus is that the national economy did not begin to formally drop until sometime between late 2006 and early 2007. Even then, as the housing markets of most other metropolitan areas followed suit, the College Station/Bryan market remained steady with moderate growth that continues today.

The BCS Regional Association of Realtors reports that in January 2006 the average single family home sold for $155,083. Nearly five years later through October 2010, the average was up more than 13 percent to $175,681. In that 57-month span, the minimum and maximum average single-family home sold for $141,176 (April 2006) and $203,351 (April 2007), with an overall average of $165,337.

So what is it that makes the College Station housing market so resilient in a nationally-distressed housing market? One major contributor is Texas A&M University. Not only are alumni moving back to retire, but many of the parents of today’s students are making a short-term investment in their children’s college housing by purchasing a home instead of renting. According to census data, College Station’s population increased more than 27 percent from 2000-2009. As a result, this increased demand for retiree and student housing continues to grow, and the price for such housing also will continue to rise. Although this is fortunate for those seeking to make a profit, it does not necessarily bode well for those seeking affordable housing opportunities in College Station.

The takeaway from observing the home values these indices report is to understand that it usually is only a snapshot in time for a particular segment within a housing market. Not all homes in College Station will be reflected in these single values. However, if the general trend continues you should see a very respectable return on your investment over time, regardless of the number of bedrooms or baths you may have.

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