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“Remember the Alamo!” That rallying cry has been associated with the city of San Antonio, Texas for 185 years. It refers to the Battle of the Alamo where the Texian (American) army struggled to liberate their settlement from Mexican control. All the defenders of the Alamo perished in the battle, becoming martyrs to the cause. Since 1836 “Remember the Alamo” has signified bravery, dedication, and determination to overcome. That fighting spirit has served San Antonio well, as it is currently the seventh most populous city in the country, and it is also the fastest growing of large US cities.
Geographically, San Antonio anchors the area between south and central Texas and sits at the southwestern corner of the Texas Triangle – a mega-region that contains the state’s largest population. The Texas Triangle comprises five large cities: Dallas-Ft Worth, Austin, Houston, and San Antonio. The Greater San Antonio and Greater Austin metropolitan areas are connected by Interstate 35, and are expected to merge, forming a new mega-region, possibly within the next decade.
What makes this area so popular? The region’s climate is considered transitional. In general the weather is subtropical humid, but as you move west it becomes semi-arid. July and August are the warmest months with daytime temperatures in the 90s. Although it has been known to snow in winter, that doesn’t happen with regularity, and it can be years between snowfalls. Realm’s data analysis indicates that 99% of the homes in San Antonio proper are not in a flood zone, but flooding has been experienced within the greater metro area. Tornadoes within the city limits are rare.
According to the US Census Bureau, the population of San Antonio has increased 16% since 2010. San Antonio currently has the highest Hispanic population of any US city and 4% of the population identifies as LGBTQ — in fact San Antonio scored 90 out of 100 for its treatment of the LGBTQ community.
San Antonio’s economy is strong, with a low unemployment rate. Robust commercial sectors include military, health care, financial services, oil and gas, and civil service/government jobs. Automobile manufacturing and technology are growing sectors. The area has also seen a sizable increase in US-based call center jobs. Tourism also remains a strong employment sector.
The area receives more than 20 million tourists every year. Many come to participate in some of the 300 events held at the world-class Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center. Others are drawn by the River Walk, a unique park that provides a beautiful walking path along the San Antonio River in a miles-long loop past historical sites, restaurants, a shopping center, and an art museum. Another popular draw for locals and tourists is The Pearl. It was created by repurposing the old Pearl Brewery into a dining and live music venue that is surrounded by boutiques and antique stores. Nearby Natural Bridge Caverns is a geological wonder, a network of large caves underground that are filled with stalagmites and flowstone formations. The quaint hamlet of Gruene, founded by early German settlers, is a delightful warren of vintage shops, an old-time general store, and the Gristmill River Restaurant and Bar, built inside an actual grist mill with a working water wheel. For those who love kitsch, there’s Buc-ee’s, officially the world’s largest convenience store, open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Buc-ee’s is known for having the cleanest restrooms in America, a huge number of gas pumps for quick fueling, and a one-of-a-kind Jerky Bar, which features up to 15 styles of jerky, ready to mix & match.
With its origins dating back 300 years (the city celebrated its tri-centennial in 2018), you might expect a hodgepodge of architectural styles — and you would be correct. There are stately Victorians, Greek Revival mansions, and Italianate grand residences. There are farmhouses, bungalows, and cottages. And of course there are plenty of Spanish-influenced styles. But the predominant choice for homeowners in San Antonio is the ranch-style house.
The ranch home is perfectly adapted to the transitional climate. Usually a single story, ranch-style homes are long and low, with an open interior floor plan that facilitates easy traffic flow between rooms. Frequently there are multiple patios, extending the living space into the outdoors. Not all ranch homes look alike. In recent years, builders have put a new spin on the basic floorplan, using finishes that suggest a Tuscan feel, or adding archways and landscaping that mimic a Mediterranean villa. Underneath the façade, however, is a traditional ranch-style floor plan. Since Realm’s data analysis revealed that most single family homes in the area were constructed in 2006, you are likely to encounter many of these variations during your search.
Realm’s data analysis indicates that the most popular features in homes recently listed for sale reflect homeowners’ preferences for outdoor living. Patios were the most popular amenity in the San Antonio housing market, being mentioned in 8,760 listings. Swimming pools, coveted at the height of Texas summer, occupied the second ranking, with 4,530 mentions. And although temperatures in Texas can sizzle, Realm’s data analysis found that none of the homes in the city of San Antonio were within a designated wildfire perimeter.
Proper maintenance and upkeep factors heavily influence the desirability of a home. So it’s no surprise that paint work (interior or exterior) also cracked the top five most popular features, with 4,504 mentions in recent real estate listings. Roof work was also popular, with 3,855 mentions. And the feature that seems to be popular in every housing market, wood floors, rounded out the top five most popular features, with 3,510 mentions.
Is the real estate market hot in San Antonio?
As of fall 2021, the housing market in San Antonio is very hot! Single-family homes account for 62% of housing units in the city and these homes are in short supply. Low interest rates and the work-from-home phenomenon are inspiring buyers to seek out homes more suited to their lifestyles, reducing available inventory. As of June 2021, the San Antonio Board of Realtors confirmed that there was only 2.1 months of housing inventory available (a balanced market is considered 6 months of inventory.) Therefore the area is experiencing a seller’s market, with homes selling faster and fetching prices far higher than normal. Several online sources note that median home values in the area have increased by as much as 10.5% since 2020. This puts San Antonio in the top 20% for real estate appreciation across the nation.
Are homes in San Antonio expensive?
Despite the white-hot market, as of June 2021, San Antonio had the most affordable real estate market in Texas. Residents pay significantly less for a home here than buyers in other large US metropolitan areas. On average it takes just 21% of monthly per capita income to afford a home in the San Antonio metro area. The general rule of thumb is that no more than 28% of monthly gross income should be spent on mortgage payments. The median price for a single-family home in July 2021 was $292,600. Comparatively, a similar home in Austin (which is also experiencing similar market trends) would cost $369,000.
Is San Antonio a good place to invest in real estate?
In a word, yes. San Antonio is currently experiencing tremendous growth, with many families moving into the area. The job market is thriving and includes a well-educated and productive workforce. Texas is very business-friendly. Many major companies have relocated from other states in recent years to take advantage of what the state has to offer. The presence of five nearby military installations (Fort Sam Houston is within the city limits) means that there is a constant stream of newly arriving personnel, all looking for housing. Most military families are renters because they don’t know the length of their assignment to a particular base. According to the San Antonio Board of Realtors, around 40% of San Antonio residents are renters. This makes investment in rental properties particularly advantageous.
As more people move into the area, construction of in-demand single family homes will continue. At this point, there is a lot of room to expand. San Antonio sits at the intersection of Interstate 10 and Interstate 35, making it a major transportation corridor. As corporations and service businesses set up shop along these lines, residential units are sure to follow. Unfortunately the city has lagged behind in its efforts to meet housing demand after the recession of the previous decade. Housing starts in San Antonio clocked in at 63% since 2011, as compared with Austin, which demonstrated 118% growth. San Antonio now finds itself struggling to meet the demands of a population that is increasing by about 2% each year. These factors contribute significantly to the area’s positive real estate investment outlook.
We currently cover most standalone, single-family homes