Mary Wassef Interviewed for Houston Chronicle

Mary Wassef Interviewed for Houston Chronicle

It’s been nearly five years since Andrea and David Gorney bought their home on Bayland Avenue in the historic district of Woodland Heights.

Having rented down the street for a while, the Gorneys, who now have a 15-month-old son, was drawn to the historical charm and character of the older homes in the Heights area and landed a 1,900 square-foot charm.

Built in the 1920s, the foursquare-style structure features three bedrooms upstairs and a bathroom and a half-bath, a living room that was added later, front and back porch and a small back yard.

“We love the personality older homes offer,” Andrea Gorney said. “It’s fun to think about the different families who may have lived in our house over the past century and the other children who may have grown up here.”

Indeed, the Gorneys, as they made renovations to their home, found old newspapers from the 1940s, snippets of original wallpaper and cheesecloth that once lined the walls and glass cabinet doors.

With its many parks, trails, a library that offers an array of resources and free programs for young families, parent and play groups and annual celebrations, such as Lights in the Heights and White Linen Night in the Heights, the Heights area is the perfect place to raise a family, Andrea Gorney said.

Add to that her husband’s short commute to work in downtown Houston, proximity to museums, zoo and great restaurants and wonderful neighbors, who between them offer gardening tips, bring each other baked goods and generally watch out for each other, the community seems ideal.

For anyone wanting a similar set up, it doesn’t come cheap.

The cost of a single-family home in area historical districts such as Woodland Heights and in the Heights itself, which has three historical districts – East, West and South – ranges from $450,000 for a two-bedroom fixer-upper to more than $2 million, according to Realtor Mary Wassef of Circa Real Estate, which specializes in the Heights market.

Wassef, who lives in the nearby historic district of North Norhill, said buyers will get more for their money on the periphery of the historic neighborhoods, where home prices start at $350,000.

“All the neighborhoods that touch the Heights – they’re all exceedingly competitive,” Wassef said.

Situated northeast of downtown, Woodland Heights is one of several historic neighborhoods that date to the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Attracted to the nearby Woodland Park, formerly known as Highland Park, developers created Woodland Heights on 106 acres of high ground within easy access to downtown, connected by streetcar.

Streetcars ran through the neighborhood until 1939.

Many of the historic structures remain and have been restored. The Gorneys’ home is typical of the style of homes being built for middle-class residents.

Homes were mostly bungalows, cottages and four squares in Queen Anne, Craftsman and English style, featuring generous front porches that made life more comfortable before air-conditioning.

Today, the neighborhood encompasses about 2,000 homes in 61 developments.

The neighborhood is bordered by Pecore Street to the north, Studewood Street to the west, Interstate 45 on the east and Interstate 10 to the south.

Having suffered economic ups and downs over the decades, Woodland Heights started undergoing a revival about 20 years ago, which continues today.

While the recent economic boom sent home prices in the area skyrocketing, Wassef said this year there has been “some leveling off.”

“We don’t have extreme multiple bids and houses selling for more than they were appraised for, but we’re still in a strong sellers’ market,” she said.

Wassef said her clients are attracted to the charm, historic flavor and livability of the Heights area, just as the Gorneys were, as well as proximity to major roadways.

Public schools for Woodland Heights are Travis Elementary School, Hogg Middle School and Reagan High School. Other public schools serving the Heights area are Harvard Elementary School and Hamilton Middle School.

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Source: Houston Chronicle By Annette Baird | April 28, 2015

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