We Have the Best Seat in the House When it Comes to Real Estate, but Houston’s Getting Front Row Seats & Cali’s Crashing

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Or it’s HOUSTON, honey, not HARVARD. Wanted you to see this week’s post in Culturemap Dallas. From time to time, I will be giving these brilliant folks — did you know Eric Celeste is over there, now, too? — a wrap of local market conditions and of course, weekly House Porn. I’m so happy we are in Texas, what Joel Kotkin includes in the Rise of the Third Coast. While any good Dallasite hates to defer to Houston as the next mega-anything, I actually think we can benefit from it. As you know, the traffic at Starbucks Highland Park Village carries almost as much economic clout as a Sand Hill Road brokerage firm. And when I mentioned in passing today that a lot of Californians are moving here thanks to what happened a couple of Tuesdays ago I (I know of two fresh ones, one of whom has a child at SMU who intro’ed them to Big D), I was told: you ain’t seen nothing yet, sugar plum. Indeed, Joel says that

“300,000 people with bachelor’s degrees have relocated to Houston. Between 2007 and 2009, as demographer Wendell Cox has chronicled, New Orleans—which had hemorrhaged educated people for the previous few decades—enjoyed the largest-percentage gain of educated people of any metropolitan area with a population of over 1 million. The New York Times reported in 2010 that Tulane University, the city’s premier higher-education establishment, had received nearly 44,000 applications, more than any other private school in the country. The largest group of applicants came not from Louisiana but from California, with New York and Texas not far behind.”

I knew that when my own kids and their peers eschewed New England schools for colleges in warmer climates that are also, BTW, cheaper. It’s the Third Coast, the Gulf coast, already responsible for 28% of the nation’s oil and gas employment.  That increase in smart peeps with bachelor’s degrees over the past decade bested Philadelphia’s, was three times that of San Jose, and was twice that of San Diego, says Kotkin.

“I don’t get the pushback I used to get” from potential recruits, says Chris Schoettelkotte, who founded Manhattan Resources, a Houston-based executive-recruiting firm, 13 years ago. “You try to find a city with a better economy and better job prospects than us!”

Well, OK. I’m not terribly concerned that Houston will beat us when it comes to doing business. Houston is still more hot, humid, congested and has more creepy crawlies. And there’s what Kotkin calls a “bad cultural image.”

In 1946, journalist John Gunther described Houston as a place “where few people think about anything but money.” It was, he added, “the noisiest city” in the nation, “with a residential section mostly ugly and barren, a city without a single good restaurant and of hotels with cockroaches.”

Turn of fate: now New York City has all the bedbugs. Houston energy investor  L. E. Simmons says that bad rap “keeps the stylish opportunists out. It makes us kind of an urban secret.” That is a nice way of saying, I think, phonies. Anyhow, I have no problem with Dallas surpassing Houston in the population and congestion department. Sooner or later, they are going to have to come here to Dallas for business or shopping or something, and see the light.



Candy Evans

A real estate muckraker, Candy Evans is one of the nation’s leading real estate reporters. She is also the North Texas real estate editor for Forbes.com, CultureMap Dallas, Modern Luxury Dallas, & the Katy Trail Weekly. Candy has written for Joel Kotkin’s The New Geography, Inman Real Estate News, plus a host of national sites. Constantly breaking celebrity real estate news, she scooped former president George W. Bush's Dallas home in 2008. She is the founder and publisher of her signature CandysDirt.com, and SecondShelters.com, devoted to the vacation home market. Her verticals have won many awards, including Best Blog by the venerable National Association of Real Estate Editors, one of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious journalism associations. Candy holds an active Texas real estate license but does not sell. She is on the Board of Directors of Braemar Hotels & Resorts (BHR).

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