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Waco After the Crash: Where Are We Today?

The financial crisis slammed just about every community across America in 2008, and the Waco housing market—even robust Waco real estate—was not immune.

Overall, home prices dropped by an average of $10,000 in 2008, according to the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M. Nearly 500 fewer homes were sold in 2009 than in 2006. And 2009 saw 1.2 percent negative growth in employment.

So where are we today?

Thankfully, the Waco housing market has two major advantage perpetually working in its favor:

Prime location:

Midway between Austin/San Antonio and Dallas/Ft. Worth, Waco benefits from the constant flow of traffic moving between these larger urban hubs along the I-35 corridor, which makes for a bottomless well of capital getting poured perpetually into the city. Even though few of these folks are stopping to, say, buy a home, healthy, recession-proof aspects of the economy like this attract permanent businesses and homeowners.

Furthermore, it’s the largest city in a nearly 300 square mile region (further, if you project out into West Texas), which makes it a destination for a broad array of goods and services. The city’s largest employer—Providence Health Center—reflects this.

College town:

Waco is a classic example of a strong college-based economy. It benefits not only from Baylor—the oldest continually operating university in Texas—but also  McLennan Community College and Texas State Technical College.

This matters to the economy for two reasons:

  1. Colleges and universities are largely recession-proof—especially prestigious ones like Baylor, where enrollment doesn’t drop during economic slumps. They create large, affluent communities of faculty with money to spend. Their support needs provide constant sources of lower-skilled employment. And the large student bodies support robust restaurant, shopping, and entertainment sectors. Baylor University will anchor the Waco economy year in, year out without fail for the foreseeable future.
  2. College towns are bursting with real estate opportunities—both directly around campus, and in outlying neighborhoods. Every year, thousands and thousands of new residents arrive, and thousands and thousands of residents leave. This permanently in-flux atmosphere means that homes will always be in demand, and home values will remain strong.

The numbers reflect this:

As rough as 2008 was for the area, the housing market has seen growth over the previous year in every month since October of 2009. And even in 2009, when unemployment ballooned to 6.7 percent, it was still in much better shape than most of the nation (at the same time, Texas was hit with a nearly 3 percent drop in employment). According to Trulia, more than 600 homes are currently for sale, for an average of $158,000 each.

Investing here in college real estate—whether you’re a parent of a student, a college professor, or just a Waco resident looking for a smart real estate opportunity—is a great idea.

Contact our Baylor real estate experts for more information.

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