Hurricanes typically dampen real estate sales. And although Hurricane Harvey did far more flood damage to the mainland than the island, Galveston still was fighting errant perceptions about the storm weeks after it struck in late August 2017.
Still, 2017 ended strong for island real estate sales, increasing 5 percent compared with the year before.
Last year, there were 885 residential real estate sales compared with 845 in 2016, according to Sand ‘N Sea Properties, which compiled the data with information from the Houston Association of Realtors Multiple Listing Service.
The numbers include all sales recorded in the Multiple Listing Service, not just properties sold by Sand ‘N Sea.
Consumers seeking newer homes are driving lot sales on the West End, which rose 27 percent — 229 in 2017 compared with 181 in the year before.
“People are realizing they would rather build than buy,” said Alison Christensen, a Realtor with Sand ‘N Sea Properties.
Exposure from national reality TV shows featuring Galveston, including on HGTV, has helped, too, Christensen said.
“We are very popular with HGTV shows,” she said. “I think the reason for that is that, relative to other parts of the country, we have very affordable waterfront property.”
Galveston, long popular with Houstonians, is becoming more attractive to people across the state, she said.
Along with private investment, public investment has also helped boost sales by improving the island’s appearance, Christensen said.
The city’s investment in seawall improvements, trees and other public sites appeal to potential buyers, as do affordable properties in the mid-city that buyers are snapping up with plans to convert to vacation properties, Christensen said.
Christensen wasn’t surprised by the rise in real estate sales, even in a year upturned by Hurricane Harvey, she said.
“We did have a setback with Harvey, but I’m not surprised, based on the fact that we’re continuing to see a lot of private investment in Galveston as well as public expenditure.”
Along with the number of residential sales, prices also rose in the first six months last year.
The median selling price in 2017 was $255,000 compared with $235,000 in 2016, a 9 percent rise. Median refers to the price in the middle, meaning exactly half of homes listed are above that price and exactly half are below.