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Houston’s Top Real-Estate Pros Analyze the 2022 Housing Market

Local realtors, lenders, and builders fill us in on this year's trends.

Predicting the real-estate market in Texas is only slightly less chancy than predicting the weather, but all signs point to another banner year that should be just shy of last year’s record.

According to Zillow, the online real-estate marketplace company, “2021 marked the hottest housing market in U.S. history by some measures, including Zillow’s Home Value Index (despite the ongoing pandemic). While we may not see those records broken in 2022, Zillow economists expect the incredibly strong price growth and sales volume to continue. Zillow’s forecast calls for an 11 percent growth in 2022 home values, down from the [historic growth of around 20 percent] in 2021. Existing home sales are predicted for 2022 to total 6.35 million, compared to an estimated 6.12 million this year. That would be the highest number of home sales in any year since 2006.” 

Zillow also predicts a continuation of the “Sun Belt surge,” which in 2021 saw Austin have the largest growth in home values. The top destinations for long-distance moves should continue to be in the Sun Belt this year, and that includes sunny Houston and its surrounding areas, where the Houston Association of Realtors (HAR) reported single-family home sales rose 7.1 percent in January with 6,451 units sold, compared to 6,024 in January of 2021. Renters also kept the leasing market in positive territory in January.

Once again, homes priced from $1 million and above drew the greatest sales volume increase in January, registering a 52.2 percent year-over-year gain. The $500,000-to-$1 million housing segment came in second place, surging 47.1 percent. That was followed by homes priced between $250,000 and $500,000, which rose 36.1 percent. 

This is all good news for sellers but bad news for buyers, as prices do not look to be going down anytime soon and the available inventory is still low.

We’ve asked some of Houston’s top Realtors and brokers to share their insights on market trends, and if they believe Houston is experiencing a “bubble.”

Brooks Ballard, Engel & Volkers


I see real estate continuing to be a solid part of everyone’s long-term stable investments, especially in Texas and the Greater Houston metro area, because we still have affordable options for new homes. The areas that will continue to grow will be both the metroplexes and the rural areas with opportunities for farm and ranch property, as people have seen land as an option since the pandemic. This is a cultural trend that we are seeing in Texas as people move from dense urban areas like California and New York looking for more living space. 

The Texas economy will continue to be strong and will fuel the real-estate industry. We have seen our business continually grow in double digits. I love living in Houston because of its diversity and business opportunities. We have one of the best cultural centers in the country, with the renowned Houston Theater District, so many fine dining options, and the Houston Polo Club, just to name a few.

Cari Middaugh, AmCap Mortgage


We have absolutely been in a bubble for a while now, and with the disparity between supply and demand, I don’t see that changing. Very recently there has been a very slight decrease in pricing in some markets, due to mortgage rates rising. But no, I really don’t see prices drastically changing much
this year.

 It’s definitely going to be a difficult year for buyers. We already know that the Fed is raising rates more than once throughout the year. This, of course, directly affects all of us in many ways, but especially when dealing with housing purchases and sales. It is a seller’s market, but those sellers are going to be buyers, as well.  

 The high points for me every year, and with every transaction, is taking my clients smoothly and on time from contract to closing, in order to make the largest and one of the most important purchases of their lives—especially over the last couple of years, when it was an even more difficult decision than in the past. I’m the lender who is available 24/7 for my clients, and they become friends because of the trust that I build. 

Charles Dean Kaleb Ryle, America’s Best Lending


It’s just an ultra-competitive sellers’ market. The high demand for residential properties, due to all-time-low interest rates post-pandemic, will equalize throughout the year as interest rates continue to rise. In times like these, buyers (and especially first-timers) need a solid team of industry professionals negotiating for their best interests.

Non-Qualified Mortgages will be big. I’m seeing the market opening up for bank statement, DSCR, and 1099 loans that don’t necessarily conform with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. These loans give access to more money for more borrowers. With rates stabilizing in the 4 percent range, demand for real estate will likely follow suit. Professionally, I have planned, focused growth for my business throughout 2022, and look forward to adjusting based on market conditions.

Cody Grizzoffi, NRL Mortgage


With so much turmoil in the world, everything is up in the air and has been very different since January, compared to the previous two years we have experienced. The market constantly changes at any given time, and mortgage rates, gas, materials, food, etc. have been on the rise and are expected to continue rising. 

There is an estimated nationwide housing shortage of nearly 3 million homes. With the increased demand for housing, along with the continual increase in construction costs, the price of houses will keep rising. For anyone thinking they will wait to buy later when prices go down, remember that even if the prices stay the same, the same $400,000 house could end up costing you more than $200 extra per month if mortgage rates go up by just 1 percent.

Make sure you have everything lined up with your financing before you even start looking at houses. I have multiple financing options, a solid operations team, and a long career track record of getting people into homes. In this market, a local lender helps a lot when a seller sees the potential buyer’s approval letter. They want to know there is an actual person that is handling the deal, as opposed to an unknown online lender.

David Batagower, Bayou City Property Group at Compass


The desirability of the Heights and surrounding pockets remains very strong, which comes as no surprise! It has really become an epicenter for great food, drinks, and entertainment, indoors and outdoors, and a sense of community with many areas being extremely walkable. We have also seen very steady interest in Garden Oaks, Oak Forest, Montrose, and the Medical Center. Lastly, we are also seeing very rapid development and interest in pockets 10 to 15 minutes from downtown that have new construction opportunities in the sub-$400K price point.

There’s no doubt that 2021 was one of the most challenging years to be a buyer in many of Houston’s most desirable neighborhoods. With a strategic approach that we adapt to current market circumstances (and a strong dose of perseverance!) we are truly grateful that we could help several of our buyers “make it home by the holidays” in 2021! 

Be open, and don’t be discouraged! There are opportunities out there. We had had some of our greatest wins in 2021 with our buyers who were open to emerging areas or doing some light renovating and updating. 

Doug Smith, Hawthorne Capital 


Without a crystal ball it is hard to say, but I am very bullish on the rural real-estate market. The demand will continue to grow, and Hawthorne Capital has had no shortage of willing investors in our company and willing buyers who are looking for their own special rural retreat.

Owning property has historically been a very solid investment, regardless of whether it is inside or outside of town. First-time homebuyers can still find opportunities comparable to what they will spend on rent, and then quickly start receiving the tax breaks and other benefits of property ownership. In addition, they will ultimately be investing in their own future as they pay down the mortgage and the property appreciates.

For us, rural real estate opportunities of around 10 to 15 acres within a 60-minute drive of Houston are smoking-hot. We sold over $15 million of those ranchettes last year alone. The pandemic has served to make folks want to own a place of their own where they can get away from the city. The interest is strong to create a weekend retreat, a place to put an RV or mobile home, have a few animals, and even become self-sustaining with gardens of home-grown vegetables.

Ed Sabo, Sabo Custom Builders


I don’t think Houston is in a bubble. People are moving here, and the job situation is good. I have not seen significant price drops on houses, so I think Houston is good now.

There might be some buying opportunities for first-time buyers if the economy slows down some.  However, it is challenging, and you may have to adjust your desired area to match your budget.

Areas inside the 610 loop have always performed well. In addition, some premium areas like Montrose, the Heights, the Washington Corridor, and EaDo have always been hot market areas. I live in the Heights in a bungalow. It is cozy, and I love the walkable neighborhood. I also love the neighbors, the history, restaurants, and the entire vibe of the neighborhood. We have great local businesses here, as well.

From COVID-19 to supply-chain issues to the wars overseas, I don’t know what to expect—except to expect the unexpected!

Grayson Bannister, Redfin


Real-estate experts don’t have a crystal ball to predict the future, but with historically low inventory and high demand, I don’t see the real-estate market in Houston slowing down any time soon. We may see a slight slowdown with inflation and rising interest rates, but likely not enough for prices to go down.

 Cash is queen! To win in this current market, you need at least enough cash for a 10 percent down payment and to potentially cover the difference between the appraisal value and the sales price. Alternatively, you can look into all-cash offers. Redfin partners with Homeward to enable our buyers to make all-cash offers.

My husband and I purchased a home on the Near Northside (which he has dubbed NeNo). We chose to buy here because it’s an affordable, growing, diverse area in the center of Houston! But Katy, The Woodlands, and Sugar Land will continue to be super-hot. These areas offer affordable single-family homes and highly rated schools, which are the driving factors for many buyers.

Jeremy Fain, Greenwood King


I live in Upper Kirby because it’s in the middle of everything! You can actually walk to shops, restaurants, and bars. It’s kind of like, for a moment, you’re not even in Houston.

If a house goes on the market right now, it’s going to be hot no matter what area you’re in!

With everything happening overseas right now, the market is a bit questionable. It seems that the U.S. is moving ahead as planned at the moment, so I think the market will stay extremely strong. I honestly think this is the new norm. Houston has always been a very consistent and healthy market, so this is just reinforcement that Houston is a great place to put your money in real estate.

My advice to first-time buyers is to just go for it. Write as strong of a contract as you can, and make sure that you have a great agent who knows how to navigate and craft extremely compelling offers.

I love getting to work with so many diverse and unique clients who offer a different outlook and perspective in many different areas of  life.

Karen Derr, Karen Derr Realtors


A bubble? I don’t know about a bubble, but last summer there was a small slump where I had buyers get their purchase under contract without a bidding war. I would expect some starts and stops this year, with world events coming into play.  

Jump in and follow your buyer-agent’s advice. You’ll get a home eventually. If you’re totally opposed to the list price, don’t bother to bid on it in the first week. It’s not for you. Also, if you’re just wrecked by the process of chasing “new on the market” homes, start stalking the listings that are above your price range but getting long on their “days on the market.” Just because the original price of a home didn’t spur a bidding war doesn’t mean it’s not a good buy at some price. Don’t wait for a price reduction—get your agent to gather intel, and when she feels a reduction is imminent, make a reasonable offer. 

People have come to really appreciate rural land and country properties, with their breathing room and extra space to get away from the city. Although I’m an inner-looper at heart, about eight years ago we bought an acreage spread in the country equidistant between LaGrange, Smithville, and Round Top. It’s so quiet, and the natural beauty is good for my soul. Plus, my whole family is crazy about animals. We have room for families who live on the property and tons of pets. 

LeeRoy Smith III, Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Gary Greene


I live in the Washington Corridor, and I can go on and on about this area. It feels like the main artery of the inner loop, and you can easily get to the Galleria, Montrose, the Heights, or Midtown within a few minutes. There is always some type of event happening in this area!

​People love the suburbs for a multitude of reasons, so my hottest areas this year will probably be Katy and Pearland. With that said, I do most of my real-estate activities inside the loop so there will be a good mix for me this year.

My advice for first-time home buyers is simply to be patient and believe in the process. Obviously, that is easier said than done, but a good Realtor will secure a home for their clients. It might not be the first home that they are interested in, but if expectations are set up front, the buyer will be satisfied. ​I do not consider this current market a bubble. A bubble insinuates that something will burst. What’s happening right now is a severe lack of inventory. Once more people list their homes, which the data has shown to be happening currently, we’ll see more of a “market correction” than a bubble bursting. I see prices lowering next year.

Lyn Sullivan, Alamo Title Company


I wish I did have a crystal ball, but what I know for certain is that agents, title companies, and real-estate related industries have to continue to reinvent themselves in order to meet the customer’s ever-evolving needs. How we did business pre-pandemic is not the way we do business today, and we are constantly providing new services that enhance the closing process.

It’s hard to imagine that prices would decrease, considering inflation and the rising costs of home-related products and services. Houston still has a huge number of new residents relocating from other cities and states, and that will likely keep the demand very high.

We close transactions on properties throughout Harris and surrounding counties. I think most of my Realtor clients show property primarily inside the loop and close-in Memorial. However, most will show property in other areas that the purchaser may want to consider. One of my clients is an agent who lives in Katy, but who sold property from EaDo to The Woodlands and Galveston last year.

Lynette Lew, Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Gary Greene


Most of the homes in Houston have historically had some annual appreciation, and we have definitely seen greater appreciation over the last few years. We do not anticipate that housing prices will go down this year, but sellers need to note that buyers are a bit more selective on what they are willing to pay a premium on. Some buyers are choosing to save up a bit more money to afford a home that they can stay in for a longer period of time. 

Before you make an offer, be ready with a current pre-approval letter and an experienced Realtor who can assist you in moving quickly, lining up your inspectors, and giving you advice so you can meet the contractual timelines. An experienced Realtor can also guide you in making a more attractive offer! It might make sense to purchase a home that is a bit newer so that there are potentially fewer immediate out-of-pocket expenditures. With inflated home prices, appraisal contingencies are being waived. Having additional cash on hand to make up for an appraisal shortage may be necessary in order to be approved for your loan and move forward.

I think we’ll be seeing fewer days on the market for most properties, frustrated buyers, and happy sellers for the rest of the year.

Mark Chupik, Pinnacle Realty Advisors  


Unlike other parts of the country, Houston is not in a bubble. Housing prices continue to stay positive, and don’t appear to be going down drastically any time in the near future.

The best advice I have for first-time buyers is to get pre-approved for your loan. With low inventory and increasing interest rates, a pre-approval will allow you to act quickly when you find that special home.

I think the hottest areas in Houston are Montrose and around downtown, Midtown, EaDo, and the Heights. Construction in these areas is constant and varied, offering an inventory that is ever-changing. My husband and I live in North Montrose. The neighborhood is convenient to both airports, shopping, great restaurants, museums, nightlife, and an incredible recreational area on Allen Parkway with bike paths, jogging trails, beautiful parks, and art installations. Many new projects are underway or planned for Montrose, allowing this neighborhood to be one of the hottest and most desired in Houston.

Sales will slow slightly due to inventory restrictions and rising interest rates, but will still be stronger than 2021, and many new inventory options will become available later this year. 

Paul Gomberg, Coldwell Banker United


This isn’t a bubble, so housing prices won’t be going down this year. Low housing inventory in many price points means that sellers receive multiple offers. On the MLS system, it can appear that some houses have a downward price trend. An example is a house that sold in 2020 for $375,000. That buyer turns around a year later and puts it back on the market for $750,000 with minimal upgrades. As they market the house, they lower the price three times down to $600,000. A buyer buys it for $580,000 and thinks they got a great deal, but the seller is dissatisfied that they didn’t hit a home run by doubling their investment. But the fact is that the home sold in a little over a year for about $200,000 more than its 2020 price. Housing prices are up, and they are staying there. 

This year should be stronger for housing than 2021. One caveat is if that sick, desperate dictator in Russia starts hurling nukes around and we end up in World War III, all bets are off. 

Scott Brown, Greenwood King 


There are only hot areas these days! Prices are definitely high, but we keep selling them anyway (unless something is priced incorrectly). Buyers are still willing to pay over the asking price to get the house they want.

Buyers need to have everything pulled together and ready to go with regard to financing. Proof of funds is now required to even make an offer. We are actually writing contracts to take to showings, ready to write checks! If you like the house, chances are someone else will like it, too!

Even the best crystal ball can’t help with predictions right now. Inflation, mortgage rates, war, COVID, fuel prices—who knows where this all ends up? But so far, the market is still very brisk.

Tom Eickleberry, Pride Street Realty


This market is not a bubble; the driving force is demand. Americans want to own homes, and they also have the income to purchase a home. The prices will not be going down as long as the demand is so high. 

Buy the ugly house in the best neighborhood, and make it your own. These homes are often passed over because of the need for updating. But that can be done over time. The field of buyers will be smaller, and the chances of getting a price reduction are better there.

In 2022 I see a small pullback and a quick ‘catch your breath,’ moment. The pullback will be small. Price increases will come less often. Modest inventory gains will be seen, but it will still be a very hot real-estate market.

There’s a real desire to own a home and stop renting—that striving for equity and growth is the American experience. Homeownership is the best financial decision most of us ever make in our lifetimes. 

I live in West Houston. The home prices are affordable in older neighborhoods with strong pride in homeownership and a growing LGBTQ consumer base and rates of homeownership.  

Tom Schwenk, Tom’s Galveston Real Estate

Galveston is always hot! The community is diverse and welcoming, and there’s so much to see, do, and enjoy. The Gulf Coast lifestyle has so much to offer. People don’t want to sit in traffic just to buy groceries or go to a restaurant. They want to walk to a farmer’s market or to the beach. Walkable and bikeable cities are hot, and all of Galveston is walkable.

The real-estate market in Galveston is strong, so we’ve seen higher prices and low inventory. It is not a bubble, but rather a case of Galveston and Houston catching up to other parts of the country. I think prices will stabilize this year. We may no longer be considered a bargain for home buyers, but the cost of living remains more affordable here than most other states. And there are so many other lifestyle benefits for people choosing to buy in Galveston.

Change is the only constant. Galveston has always attracted creative and entrepreneurial people who are also very resilient. From its earliest days, Galvestonians bounce back after whatever life throws at them, and make their community stronger. Whatever comes next, I know Galvestonians will adjust and thrive.

VJ Tramonte, Joe Tramonte Realty 

I can only speak for Galveston, where home prices may not rise as steeply, but the housing market will not slow down any time soon. Anything within a couple of blocks of the Seawall will continue to be hot! Downtown Galveston and Midtown will also start trending, as will other hot spots. Any type of brand-new construction—especially tiny homes—will also be hot. When looking to buy, keep your good credit score intact. Stay positive, and do not give up looking. Remember, this will probably not be the only home that you own for the rest of your life, so it does not have to be perfect.  

I see more sales and activity this year than I did in 2021. Working with first-time homebuyers is my favorite. Seeing my clients make sound purchases and walk away from the closing table with a smile makes me very happy.

Thomas Phillips, Keller Williams Realty


I predict another record-breaking year for the Houston market, especially with the record oil prices. Right now, homes only last a day or two on the market, with multiple offers. I live in a neighborhood called Cottage Grove that’s Heights-adjacent. We love it because of the easy access to the bike path and close proximity to everything inside the loop.

 Over the past year, I more than doubled my production, and I was a featured cover agent for the Texas edition of Top Agent Magazine. 

 My advice is to first have a pre-approval from a lender. The pre-approval is a more official step than a pre-qualification, with the lender verifying your financial information and credit history. Be patient with the process—you will be submitting several offers before winning one. Don’t get discouraged. Your offer needs to have a shorter inspection period and higher option and earnest-money amounts. Don’t get into a bidding war and then have the home not meet the appraisal. It doesn’t make sense to overpay for the home, because you will not recoup the cost of paying over the appraised amount.

Todd Russo, Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Gary Greene


We are seeing a lot of growth in the Cypress/Northwest areas. Master-planned communities such as Bridgeland and Towne Lake continue to offer new homes in a variety of styles, sizes, and prices. There are also new community developments along the Grand Parkway and 290.  

I am a resident of Fairfield in the Cypress area, and have been since 2007. There’s been tremendous growth in the Northwest and Cypress areas in the last 15 years, and it continues to grow. The main reason that I chose this area was for the Cy-Fair School District and the amenities that Cypress has to offer. With 290 and the Grand Parkway, we are also close to Katy, The Woodlands, and we can easily get into the city. 

In this market, you must be ready to act quickly! Be ready to tour homes and possibly make an offer on the same day that a home goes live on the market.

This article appears in the April 2022 edition of OutSmart magazine.

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Marene Gustin

Marene Gustin has written about Texas culture, food, fashion, the arts, and Lone Star politics and crime for television, magazines, the web and newspapers nationwide, and worked in Houston politics for six years. Her freelance work has appeared in the Austin Chronicle, Austin-American Statesman, Houston Chronicle, Houston Press, Texas Monthly, Dance International, Dance Magazine, the Advocate, Prime Living, InTown magazine, OutSmart magazine and web sites CultureMap Houston and Austin, Eater Houston and Gayot.com, among others.
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