On the Move: The allure of Katy draws newcomers

Monday, December 23, 2019

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By: Michelle Sandlin - Houston Chronicle

Katy has long been one of the most popular suburban locations for people who are moving to the greater Houston area. And the allure is simple: Katy offers excellent schools, amenity-rich master-planned communities and neighborhoods, close proximity to the Energy Corridor, and increased access to the many other business centers throughout the region.

Once considered a prominent location for residents who were connected to the oil and gas industry, today Katy boasts of a diverse economy that is fueled by much more than the energy sector.

In recent years, the Katy area has been the recipient of several major hospitals and health care facilities, as well as many other businesses that have relocated or expanded their operations there.

According to Lance LaCour, president and CEO of the Katy Area Economic Development Council, one of the most significant draws for new residents continues to be Katy’s highly regarded school district.

“The school district keeps achieving greatly, and that’s important for attracting people and businesses here,” said LaCour.

He added, “Some other things are important too, such as our transportation access with I-10 and the Grand Parkway, and also with FM 1093 and Westpark Tollway.”

He said that improvements to transportation access continue to make it easier for residents to commute to work and to other areas of the city.

“We also have a lot of speculative buildings and new business parks that are coming out of the ground, and that helps as well, because companies want to locate into facilities that are ready to go,” LaCour said. “So, we have quite a bit of industrial space that is being built right now.”

In looking at the real estate opportunities, LaCour said that the Katy area has a wide variety of homes and housing options for new residents. This includes both new homes and resale properties that are currently available in many of Katy’s established communities and newer developments.

There are also quite a few apartment communities that are being built for residents who prefer to lease a property when moving to the area.

As for quality of life, LaCour said there is much for new residents to enjoy in Katy.

“We have new shopping opportunities. Katy Mills mall is undergoing a transformation with its renovation. We have the Boardwalk District project. There are always new restaurants opening in Katy. Everybody’s pretty excited about In-N-Out Burger. And, there’s also a lot of activity in terms of improving trails and things to allow people to have recreational opportunities.

“I believe that Katy is growing in a quality way, and we have great facilities and great opportunities for companies that are interested in locating here,” said LaCour.

In terms of the real estate market, Janice Ratliff agreed with LaCour as to the many opportunities that exist for people who are moving here. She is a longtime resident of Cinco Ranch, and an agent with Bernstein Realty.

“Elyson is probably the largest master-planned community for relocation buyers who want new construction, but there’s also Firethorne,” Ratliff said. “And, as far as resale properties, there’s Cinco Ranch, Grand Lakes, Cross Creek Ranch, and other neighborhoods.”

She added, “People really do pay attention to location and commute times. So, it just depends on what the buyer wants, and if they want a newer home, they will be willing to go further out.”

As for relocation activity in Katy, Ratliff said that she has noticed an uptick in out-of-town home buyers.

“We kind of had a dry spell for a while, but it’s coming back. It’s always so refreshing when I get feedback on my listings and find out that the people looking are relocation buyers. For a long time, Katy was only oil and gas, and it’s lucky for us that we are so diverse now with other industries moving people here. Any time you have a downturn in the market, you don’t want to have your property values suffer as a result,” Ratliff said.

Another interesting trend that she mentioned has to do with the growing aging population in Katy. She said that many residents who have become empty nesters are selling their larger homes in favor of smaller ones. And, although they often want to downsize, they choose to remain in Katy.

Likewise, she added that older generations of people are moving to Katy in order to be closer to their families.

“I receive calls all the time from people who say that their parents are selling their home in California and moving to Katy so that they can live close to their kids and grandkids,” Ratliff said.

Michelle Sandlin is an award-winning writer, journalist and global mobility industry expert. Follow her on Facebook: www.facebook.com/TheMichelleSandlin and on Twitter: @MichelleSandlin. Also visit “On the Move” at blog.chron.com/onthemove.

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