Home prices in Longview might be attractive for people relocating from bigger cities in Texas and from other states.
However, a report from HomeArea.com, which describes itself as being a neighborhood and real estate resource for consumers and researchers, ranks Longview 45th in home price affordability of 59 cities in Texas with populations of 60,000 or more.
Pharr, located near Texas’ southern-most tip, ranks No. 1 while the Texas A&M University city of College Station ranks at the bottom in terms of affordability.
HomeArea.com said it based the rankings for Longview and the other cities from the latest estimates from the American Community Survey of the U.S. Census Bureau. HomeArea.com said the median home value is $125,300 in Longview, with the median household income of $43,000.
HomeArea.com also gave Longview a median multiple value of 2.9, with any number under 3 considered affordable.
Tyler, which ranks above Longview at 31 in the affordability ranking, has a multiple value of 3.2. The national median multiple is 3.6.
Mike Alston, a partner with East Texas Homes LLC and First Choice Affordable Homes LLC, was skeptical of the report.
“I’m not sure that I understand or agree with their methodology to calculate what is or is not ‘affordable,’” Alston said.
“I believe median is a midpoint, and you can have a midpoint that greatly skews how many people are being affected,” Alston said. However, he added, “If the norm is 3, then Longview is right up there with the norm.”
Alston said home affordability is based on the price of a house in relation to the income of the buyer. He said First Choice Affordable Homes is building three-bedroom, two-bath homes on Berkley Street and selling them for $115,000 and higher, which is lower than the median home value in Longview that HomeArea.com cites.
HomeArea.com’s figures also differ from data from the Longview Area Association of Realtors, which reported the median sale price for a home in Longview ZIP codes was $152,500 in February. The association reported 54 closed sales, with 45.1 percent ranging in price from $100,000 to $199,000 and 31.4 percent selling for under $99,000.
Longview has 17,796 owner-occupied homes, accounting for 55.22 percent of total homes, according to data from the Longview Economic Development Corp. LEDCO also lists the average household income at $47,376.
Meanwhile, the poverty rate in Longview sits at 18 percent, according to LaJuan Gordon, executive director for Northeast Texas Habitat for Humanity. She said that figure is based on the July 2018 estimate from the Census Bureau and is higher than the statewide poverty rate of 14 percent.
“We work largely within that 18 percent,” Gordon said. She said the availability of “decent, affordable homes is almost nonexistent” in Longview for people in that low-income bracket.
Formerly known as Longview Habitat for Humanity, the nonprofit entity helps people with modest incomes become homeowners through “sweat equity” in which the homeowners help to build their and others’ houses.
Gordon said Habitat has helped to place 105 families in “safe, decent homes” and has repaired 265 homes since 1985.