Houston and District Chamber of Commerce manager Maureen Czirfusz is optimistic about this year’s economic prospects. (Houston Today photo)

Economic activity on the increase in Houston

Real estate sales rebound, new businesses opening

Economic activity has been steadily increasing in Houston and area the past several years despite the COVID-19 pandemic, bouyed in part by the Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline construction south of the community but also by a general sense of optimism.

Realtor Jantina Hamelink sees what’s going on first hand in considering property sales — prices — last year.

Multiple Listing Service stats for 2021 list 58 properties carrying a total value of $15.1 million. That includes 37 single family homes with an average price of $248,634.

“That’s pretty close to the averages of 2018 and 2019,” said Hamelink of sales totals. “We pretty much went back to normal.”

In 2020, the first full year of COVID uncertainty, 35 properties sold, 21 of which were single family homes. The total value was approximately $8.2 million.

But while the number of properties selling in 2021 may be back to what they were in pre-pandemic times — there were 52 total sales in 2019 and 42 in 2018 — prices have climbed.

In 2020 a single-family residential home sold for $219,618 while in 2019 the average price was $198,852.

Hamelink says her clients are increasingly coming from places such as the Lower Mainland and Alberta.

“Prices here are affordable compared to elsewhere,” she said. “And with COVID, people looking for a different kind of living. A single family home, one with a backyard.”

Just who they are is a mixture of young families and those who have retired.

“People are also being drawn to the outdoors. This is an amazing place for the outdoors,” Hamelink added.

One thing the area does lack is new and newer housing which would be an added attraction to newcomers.

While selling prices have increased they are not at the stage of construction costs which have also grown during the pandemic, Hamelink said.

“The market is just not quite there yet,” she said of the return on investment from building and then selling new construction.

With real estate sales on the rebound, there has been a growth within the business community.

Last year there were 251 renewals and 27 new licences compared to 232 renewals and 14 new licences in 2020 and 227 renewals and seven new licences in 2019.

The District of Houston sends out business licence renewal notices the beginning of each year and has already received 216 renewals out of 280 notices sent, says District of Houston chief administrative office Michael Dewar.

Some larger businesses take longer to pay while other companies who worked here last year may no longer be in the area, he added.

Houston and District Chamber of Commerce manager Maureen Czirfusz, who also acts as the District of Houston’s economic development officer, adds up business additions and changes over the past two years.

There’s been a new fast food outlet, construction has advanced on a gasbar/convenience store scheduled to open this spring, several existing businesses have opened or will open new outlets to complement or expand upon what they sell now , the local vet is moving to owner-occupied from renting space and a collective of local artisans has banded together in one retail spot.

Specific to food, some establishments have sold while new ones are on the horizon.

Czirfusz’s list hovers in the 15 range and that’s just the ones she’s immediately aware of.

Some of the growth is due to the ongoing Coastal GasLink pipeline construction, but Czirfusz gives full credit to the District of Houston’s nineth street rebuild and rebranding which updated the look of this key section of the downtown core.

“The District of Houston investing money in the community shows the businesses and residents that they have confidence in the community,” she said.

”I also believe that Covid helped as many people are now looking to support local.”

One sign of an expanding business climate can be found at the Houston mall where vacant spaces are being taken up by small enterprises.

“That’s one thing I’ve certainly noticed,” says Patrick Grundle from Hugh and McKinnon Realty from Surrey which took over property management four months ago.

“We’ve also been getting more inquiries,” he said of more potential clients.

“I can tell you it’s been from a broad spectrum of retailers. They would certainly add to the mix,” Grundle added.

Be Among The First To Know

Sign up for a free account today, and receive top headlines in your inbox Monday to Saturday.

Sign Up with google Sign Up with facebook

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Reset your password

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

A link has been emailed to you - check your inbox.

Don't have an account? Click here to sign up