Looking for a 3 bedroom, 2 bath, 2,000 square foot house in our area in the low to mid $100,000s? That value is what is drawing people like Ollie Perry and Clint Avila to Inwood Forest, originally a 1960s country club neighborhood for oil executives that has seen its fortunes rise and fall over the years. But the neighborhood is on the upswing thanks to a still robust housing market and a big assist from the city with the purchase of the former Inwood Forest Country Club.
Perry and Avila are homeowners who got in ahead of the curve. Living at the Forrest Lake Townhomes in the Greater Inwood area and through Perry’s involvement with the Greater Inwood Partnership, they had a good feel for the area. Better than their first realtor who told them “you don’t want to live in that part of town.”
When the time came to look for another house with more space, they considered Candlelight Oaks, Forest West, Sheraton Oaks, Antoine Estates and Oaks of Inwood.
“After a very exhaustive search we decided to look at a couple of homes in Inwood Forest,” said Perry. “We bought the first one we walked into.” Their home backs up to a little pond and the former Inwood Forest golf course. At night they listen to the toads and in the morning white herons take up residence outside their window.
While they paid $109,000 for the house, it is worth about $150,000 now. Perry and Avila are so enthusiastic about the area they have bought five other properties in the neighborhood which they maintain as rental properties.
“We just happened to get into it, but I’ve been really pleased with our renters,” said Perry, noting that they include a high school principal, an engineer, and an IT executive. “They wanted green space, but they also wanted to be close to work and to town.”
In fact, while Perry and Avila were initially drawn to a good deal, it’s the people they’ve met in the last few years who have reinforced their positive feelings about their area. Perry said more than 70 people recently showed up at White Oak Conference Center for the “New Resident” wine event hosted by the Greater Inwood Partnership and the Near Northwest Management District.
“It’s definitely more social now, and there are more younger people and families,” said Perry. “From my perspective, it’s a very diverse neighborhood as far as what people do, and where they work. We’re an eclectic group.”
One person who has been anticipating the resurgence of Inwood Forest is real estate agent Dennie Hodge, who has been in the business for 40 years.
“I just knew that we would be rediscovered,” she said.
Hodge, who said she’s been selling in Inwood Forest since 1978 when they were building the new homes, now lives there and sells almost exclusively in the Greater Inwood area.
“I know so many people there and it’s only twelve minutes from Garden Oaks where I was raised,” she said.
Hodge remembers when there used to be an airport on the other side of Alabonson.
“The oil executives would fly into the airport and then drive home,” she said.
But with the recession of the 1980s, the neighborhood began a decline which wasn’t helped by Tropical Storm Allison which flooded about 75% of the neighborhood.
Hodge said that there have been several factors that have recently made Inwood Forest an appealing option to new buyers. First is the $27 million Vogel Creek project which has widened the channel, and alleviated flooding in the area. Due to this, the flood maps are in the process of being revised and it’s anticipated that the entire east side of the neighborhood will be removed from the flood plain.
The second was the city’s purchase of the former Inwood Forest Country Club from a developer who certainly wasn’t going to maintain the 223-acre property as green space.
“Having a park there is the most wonderful thing in the world,” said Hodge. “There’s always lots of activity.” The White Oak Bayou Hike and Bike trail which now will extend to Alabonson is also a benefit to the area, as well as something that further raises Inwood Forest’s visibility.
The buzz about Inwood Forest is indeed spreading. Hodge said that she’s had a few clients from Oak Forest who have sold their 2/1 for $300,000, then purchased a $150,000 house in Inwood Forest.
“Recently, there was one totally remodeled home that we got three contracts on right away,” said Hodge. “The winning big went $10,000 over asking price.”
Habitation Realty’s David Hille also sells homes in Inwood Forest.
“It’s very unique, not cookie cutter,” he said. “It was a country club community so there was real thought about what the aesthetics look like.”
Hille said although values there have gone up 20% in five years, it’s a great neighborhood for a first time homeowner. The price per square foot is about $50 to $60.
“Compare that to the $400 per square foot price in Montrose,” he said.